Jay Harris is Cpt. LoadTest

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Last weekend was the wife’s birthday. She hates having 14 different remotes to control the entertainment center; none of the “universal” remotes that came with any single component are really universal. The Comcast PVR universal remote cannot change inputs on the receiver. The receiver’s universal remote cannot access the PVR functionality of the Comcast box. So, for her birthday I got her a Logitech Harmony Advanced Universal Remote for Xbox 360. She loved it—or at least, the idea—but it sucked, so we returned it the same day.

I have heard great things about the Harmony remotes. The Harmony 360 is just another choice in the product line, with a few modifications:

  • It controls the Xbox 360, out of the box
  • It contains Y, X, A, B buttons to ease use of the Xbox via the remote

The Harmony 360 is nearly identical to the Logitech Harmony 550, except for different colored display (green vs. blue), different color casing (Xbox White vs. Black / Grey), and a few button changes (Y, X, A, B replace the Info / Guide buttons, though Y is sub-labeled ‘Guide’ and B is sub-labeled ‘Info’).

This is, or was, my first experience with the Harmony remotes. I am not a fan of this remote. Most of my distaste lies from the programming / editing software for the remote that is installed to your computer.

The interface is unbelievably slow
After all, performance is important to me. The installed application (not a browser application) would regularly take 5+ seconds to switch between screens.

The “future proof” codes were incorrect
For my A/V Receiver, my Comcast PVR cable box, and for my TV, the codes were incorrect. Though it identified my receiver, a brand new Panasonic SA-XR57 released only a month ago, it didn’t even know the receiver had a DVR input. As the only other component-video-equipped input on my XR57 besides TV, I use it for my Xbox. The problem here is that the software forces you to choose an input for the Activities macros, after which you can specify additional custom commands. My “Play Xbox” activity macro included ‘Turn on the Receiver’, ‘Set the Receiver to TV Input’, then a custom ‘Set the Receiver to CustomInputDVRCommand’. A kludge. A hack. I’m not a fan.

The “smart help” wasn’t so smart
The remote comes complete with a Smart Help feature via a Help button right on the remote that assists you when things go wrong. Because of my incorrect codes, the remote would do things wrong, but the Help would retry in an infinite loop. “Is your TV on?” No. [Sends IR command] “Did this fix the problem?” No. “Is your TV on?” No. [Sends same IR command] “Did this fix the problem?” No. “Is your TV on?” …
It is quite annoying.

The remote went back into the box after 2 or 3 hours of trying to get it set up correctly. It was more hassle than the 14 other remotes. It was not worth $129.99. I am just going to save some cash, and pony up for a Pronto TSU7000. Touch screen, configure my own button layout using my own bitmaps (for the UI side of me), more programmable interface (for my Developer side of me), and a lot more control over how I want my remote to be.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006 9:03:56 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [1] - Trackback

Wednesday, June 28, 2006 7:20:00 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
I did the same thing. I bought a different version of the remote after all the hype and I just felt that for the $100+ I spent on it, it didn’t do a good enough job. Really they need to define a standard protocol for 2 way communication with remotes. My remote needs to know the state of my tv,stereo, etc. Until that happens, I just don’t think there will ever be a very good remote.
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