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Some of that functionality could be reproduced by using what are known as “discrete codes”. Discrete codes are infrared commands that tell a device specifically what to do, such as “turn on” or “go to input 4”, instead of the generic codes that typically come with original remotes that tell a device to “turn on if you’re off / off if you’re on” or “toggle to the next input”. Still, the Harmony can work much better with devices that don’t include full discrete codes and, more importantly, does so automatically.
Finally, the Harmony is a true internet-connected remote, complete with a downloadable electronic television program guide. Indeed, absolutely everything is done over the internet – which can be either good or bad, depending on your point of view. Regardless, it’s unique!
From 1980’s retro to 2000’s chic!
After a physical redesign that goes far beyond the superficial, the newly curvaceous $299 Harmony SST-768 scarcely looks related to its boxy predecessor. It’s amazing what’s been done in a year!
Let’s start off with the Harmony’s physical design. The old SST-745 measured in at a remarkably compact 2.0" wide, 5.25" long and 1.25" thick (5.08cm by 13.34cm by 3.19cm). The new model, although larger, still measures only 2.10" wide, 6.09" long and 1.23" thick (5.33cm by 15.47cm by 3.12cm). Don’t let its diminutive size fool you: the Harmony is a real powerhouse inside.
The black-and-white LCD screen remains the same as before at 1.25" wide and 0.75" high (3.18cm by 1.91cm), with a diagonal measurement of 1.35" (3.43cm) and a somewhat coarse resolution of 84 by 48 pixels. Contrast is excellent, as are most 2-color screens, with good visibility under a wide variety of lighting levels. The screen’s placement is a conversation starter in itself, nestled at the bottom of the remote. Almost everyone who picks up the remote for the first time turns it upside down, expecting the screen to go at the top!
Everything about the new Harmony is curved. First, the face of the remote is domed slightly, rising to a high point around the top of the numerical keypad. Second, the remote tapers ever-so-slightly inwards at the midpoint by 6%, from the widest sections at the semi-circular top and bottom halves. Third, the sides curve smoothly around the back for a comfortable grip. Finally, there’s a sizable finger groove on the rear, positioned directly below the [Volume/Channel Up/Down] keys (though my large hands would have preferred it under the scroll wheel).
Other, more subtle design touches give the Harmony a flowing, organic appearance. There are the fully rounded buttons, a slightly curved bezel around the LCD screen, the raised bevelled design that extends over the whole remote and crosses through the [Record] and [Stop] buttons, plus horizontal grooves along the edge at the bottom that echo from the original Harmony’s Nokia cell phone roots.
The quality and fit-and-finish of the SST-768 is top-notch, far surpassing that of the SST-745, which exhibited curious moulding lines and other irregularities that detracted from a proper high-tech impression. I cannot emphasize enough how much the new Harmony has improved!