Logitech Harmony One remote

It just occured to me that I never posted about our new remote (did I?)  Our new remote that controls everything (even the air conditioner) and is ridiculously easy to use.  I’ll warn you that, like the Sonicare toothbrush, I received the remote as part of a BzzAgent campaign and didn’t pay for it (doesn’t that make you want to join?)  According to Amazon.com, it’s a $200 remote!  I don’t know that I’d pay that much for it, since I’m not that picky about the remotes we use in the house.  We don’t have a bunch of game stations and the receiver is the same unit at the DVD player, so it’s not like we have piles of remotes getting in the way.  But, if I were looking for The Universal Remote to control every appliance within IR range, I think the Harmony One would be it.

A while ago, my dad bought me a very cool universal remote from Sharper Image, after I oohed and aahed over his (I think it’s this one).  It was actually really easy to set up and it got most of the basic functions right.  There were a couple I had to “teach” it using the original remote, but that was it.  But, T didn’t like the touch screen, it wasn’t easy to teach my mom how to use it, and inevitably the taught functions had to be redone.  Because T kept using the original cable and DVD remotes, we always had them all out anyway.  Eventually, we used the universal one less and less.

When I heard about the Logitech campaign, I was actually very skeptical.  I honestly didn’t think we’d end up using this universal remote.  I thought we’d get this fancy, expensive thing (although I had no idea how expensive it was!) and I’d try to convince T to use it and it would end up in the remote pile while we continued to use the cable remote.  Even T was skeptical when it arrived and I oohed and aahed over it.

In a nutshell, you use your computer to set it up.  It works best if you know your component model numbers, but there’s such a huge database that it can also find a suitable model that would work just fine (to program in the remote functions).  You set it all up and then update the remote via USB cable (included with the remote).  What makes this remote so easy is that you can set up “activities” as one-button commands.  Being boring, our activities are Watch TV or Watch DVD, plus Turn on AC.  But, I’ve set up the Watch TV activity to turn on the tv, turn on the cable box, turn to Input 5 (the cable input)and set the channel to the Food Network.  To watch movies, you hit the Watch DVD button and the cable box turns off, the DVD player turns on, the tv is tuned to Input 6 and you can either put in a DVD or it will play the one that’s in the player.  Each activity shows you the controls for all devices being used, but you can also switch the remote to act like a single-device remote if there’s a specific function you’re looking for.  You can also update and add functions to the remote by programming it with the original remote (I had to add the Disc Change function for the DVD changer).  The only function I’m having trouble with is changing the tv aspect ratio.  I can do it through the tv setup menu, but the “aspect” button isn’t doing what I want.  The fact that the remote can tune to the different Inputs without me pushing the “input” button all the time is probably my favorite part.

We had the remote for about a month now and I’ve been able to put the other remotes away.  I do leave out the cable remote because it’s a little easier to use when I’m on the elliptical. 

One unexpected bonus that came from playing with the Logitech remote is that I discovered the cable box has its own volume control.  I turned it up and now you can make the tv really loud.  Before, I’d have to use the surround sound to be able to hear the tv while on the elliptical, but now the volume settings are perfect and I can just turn the tv up!

Like I said, it’s not a cheap remote, but it does control everything.  I don’t think there’s a limit to the number of devices you can control and I’m pretty happy with the few that we do use.  It’s pretty awesome and I’m really glad it works as well as it does.

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