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One activity is simply marked “SST Control”. From here it’s possible to directly access all system devices. Select the device, a command category, or pick all commands, and a typically large scrollable list of matching functions is displayed. Commands aren’t completely assigned to the hard buttons in this mode, so its usefulness is limited.
When you have finished using the system, either pick the “Power Off” activity or press the [Power] button twice. A new Harmony feature, pressing the [Power] button once at any time presents a scrollable activity list for super-quick task switching.
This time Neo would want the blue pill!
Another blue button, the [Zap] button, records the date, time and channel you were watching into its memory. The next time you connect the remote to the computer, it uploads this information to HarmonyRemote.com, where more information and web links will be waiting. Even if more information isn’t available, it could be useful as a way to keep track of interesting programs.
I found the SST-768’s general ergonomics to be quite good. My thumb fell naturally on the channel and volume keys, and nowhere on the remote is too far away for bona fide single-handed use. The scroll wheel sometimes miss-sensed which direction it was being turned if flicked too quickly – a quick swipe of the wheel sometimes got nowhere. Otherwise, remote performance is excellent. Navigation is fast, macros transmit quickly, and if you’ve got the device command timings configured correctly it can respond promptly to key presses. If the command interval is left to some of the default timings, the Harmony can feel a little lagged in use – press enough buttons quickly enough and it’ll keep sending commands for several seconds after you stop. Easily corrected, but most devices don’t need a default inter-command delay of 500 milliseconds.
Unlike bigger touchscreen remotes, the LCD screen never shuts off – it’s always active awaiting your command. The backlight has a configurable timeout of 5 or 10 seconds, which can be disabled if battery life is a real concern.
In terms of infrared performance, the Harmony turned in an average performance by just scoring a 3.0 on our Menacing Thick Fluffy Blanket (MTFB) test, blasting commands through three thick layers of mean polyester fluff. I say “just” as the Harmony worked perfectly from our standardized test distance, but just two feet back and infrared strength dropped off completely.
Getting into advanced configuration.
Up until this point, setting up the Harmony has been simple and well organized. But from here on in, further remote customization becomes more complicated. Each activity has two main advanced customization sections related to device commands: “add a menu item” and “change the behavior of buttons”.