Tag Archives: Logitech

Logitech Harmony One

Harmony OneBack in 2006, I raved about how much I loved my Harmony 525, and I stand by it. The Harmony range is miles ahead of most other universal remotes, and I’ve used the trusty 525 almost every day since I got it to control my growing army of devices, with even sticky tasks like substituting in a new TV being quick and painless.

My only real concern was the build quality – I called it “acceptable for the price”, and the fact that the 525 now goes for £45 should tell you what that’s euphemistic for – and that’s turned out to be what necessitated an upgrade. It’s survived being sat on and thrown across rooms without increasing in creakiness, but heavy use of the colour buttons (they’re my ad-skip hot keys for my DVR) has left every rubber button on the thing requiring a painful degree of force to activate, if it decides to activate at all.

The 525 and its cousins are a holdover from before Logitech acquired Harmony, so in an effort to get something with the tank-like build of my other Logitech products, I went for a more recent design in the form of its flagship, the Harmony One. One may be a lower number than 525, but it’s spelled out so that you know that it’s better.

The first improvement is in the build quality, which is great. It’s solid, without creaking when you manipulate it, and the buttons are a huge improvement. Gone are the frankly rubbish rubber keys, replaced with ones that feel solid and all have a satisfying click to them so that you’re not reliant the glow of the remote to know if you’ve registered a press. The way that just the white button text glows looks a hell of a lot nicer than the cheap blue glow of the 525, which was itself an improvement on the old-school orange and green glows of the other models.

I’m kind of ambivalent about the touch screen. It allows for cool features like custom channel icons – although, disappointingly, no custom activity icons (yet), so no 360 logo on my ‘Play Xbox 360’ activity – but the screen with mappable buttons on the old one was much easier to use blindly, without actually having to look at the screen. Maybe it’ll come with practice, but it’s not as intuitive. Continue reading Logitech Harmony One

Logitech Z-5400

Logitech Z-5400

I’ve got a decent TV, a decent DVD player, and decent cables connecting everything into it, but the slightly incongruous link is my sound system, an Interact DSS-900, which has served me well enough for a few years but just isn’t that great. It only cost me as much as three of the digital coaxial cables that I use though, so I suppose it’s been good value.

It’s been loud enough to annoy my parents on a regular basis (late night Call of Duty 2 is a particular sore point) but it only supports Dolby Digital and Dolby Pro Logic II which has left DTS on DVDs inaccessible and it doesn’t have a remote which means that even with my lovely Harmony I have to get up to turn it off with the rest of the system unless I want a low hum 24/7.

Anyway, with a student loan to blow I decided it was time for an upgrade, so I went for the Logitech Z-5400. It has a remote and supports DTS which is two of the criteria down immediately, it’s more powerful and so can keep family members awake even more effectively, and it has support for seven devices at once (up from three) while negating the need to flick an optical/coaxial switch hidden away on the back when I want to change between DVD and 360. At a shade under £150 I’d say it’s even better value than the £100 spent on the old one, and just look at the white-on-black LCD. Look at it. That’s worth the money alone. Continue reading Logitech Z-5400

Logitech Harmony 525 Impressions

Logitech Harmony 525

The need for a universal remote became apparent to me recently because when I’m juggling so many devices it’s a real pain to change all the inputs and switch everything on with five different remotes, but research taught me that they can be really expensive if you want one with the ability to do more than switch between the TV and VCR.

Well I just bought the Logitech Harmony 525, the cheapest of the Harmony series which can be had a little under £50. It lacks the colour screen (a real necessity on a remote control), favourite channel memory, rechargeable battery/dock, motion sensor, and extra buttons of the more expensive models but otherwise is functionally identical. Plus it has one of those snazzy blue backlights of which I’m such a fan.

The aesthetics and build quality are acceptable for the price, if a bit creaky sometimes, but what I really like about these remotes are how they’re set up and keep the functionality updated. The remote connects to a computer (Windows or OS X) via USB and setup is done through the Logitech site. It asks you to select the make and model of all the devices that you want it to control – if it has an IR port, chances are it’ll be compatible – and then makes programming macros (called “activities” here) almost automatic.

Without me doing anything it had set up hotkeys to watch TV, watch a DVD, listen to a CD, play the 360, play the PS2, and watch a Laserdisc, and any of these could be tweaked further. The programs are just downloaded straight to the remote and it’s ready to go. Almost. Mine had some problems changing to the correct inputs because the TV requires you to either go through a menu system or press a button to cycle through inputs, but will skip certain ones if nothing active is connected to them, meaning that the number of button presses to a certain input is rarely the same. A little digging around showed that the TV actually does have IR commands that skip straight to a certain input that aren’t present on the standard remote, so with a bit of testing I programmed those in and it works perfectly now. It was also set by default to send a stop command to the DVD player before switching it off which would stop it saving my place in the movie, so that needed solving too.

Something that gets the thumbs up from me is that it’s infinitely better laid out than the horribly convoluted remote that came with my DVD player, which still has me pressing the wrong buttons two months after I got it. It does a great job of acting exactly how you’d expect it to, switching inputs and button functions and turning devices on and off when they’re needed. It’s very intuitive, and can all be customised if you want to change the default functions. I’ve also heard great things about the free support line, but I (thankfully?) haven’t had the need to use them.

If you’re a perfectionist it can take a while to get them set up exactly how you want, but the setup process is one of the best I’ve seen for a remote, and it’s superb once it’s working right. Definitely recommended.