Accessory Reviews

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Kris Deering  |  Sep 23, 2020  |  1 comments

Harmony Elite

Harmony Pro 2400
PRICE $350 (Harmony Elite), $550 (Harmony Pro 2400)

Easy setup and system integration
Cloud-based control and backup
Controls via IR, TCP/IP, and Bluetooth
Lacks Apple Siri support
Pro 2400 limited to custom installation channel

Harmony remotes offer the convenience and customization options of high-priced control systems, but without the intensive support requirements that come with them.

The biggest complaint I hear from clients when I'm out in the field doing video display calibration work involves problems with remote control systems. You'd think this would be because they have a stack of them to shuffle through, or they had bought some cheap off-the-rack universal remote at Walmart. On the contrary, the complaints are always about some high-end home automation system. As a happy Logitech Harmony remote control user, I've managed to avoid that direction. For the last few years, my remote of choice has been the Harmony Elite, which this review will focus on alongside its new cohort in the custom installation market, the Harmony Pro 2400.

Adrienne Maxwell  |  Apr 01, 2004  |  0 comments
The Harmony SST-659 universal remote—smart, so you don't have to be.

Programming a universal remote is, to put it mildly, unfun. About 10 more-colorful adjectives came to mind before unfun, but this is a PG-13 magazine—and I'm a lady, after all. If you're financially well endowed, you not only have the luxury of buying one of the higher-end A/V controllers that can control your gear and do your taxes at the same time, but you probably also have a custom installer who can handle the joys of programming that controller all by his or her lonesome.

Darryl Wilkinson  |  May 21, 2005  |  0 comments
Sometimes, solving a problem is as simple as knowing the right tool to use.

Gustave Flaubert was a realist and a perfectionist. No wonder he came up with this gem: "Happiness is a monstrosity! Punished are those who seek it." This might well be the mantra of anyone who seeks to put together a high-performance home theater. Unless you start with a set of blueprints and a lot of expertise, you're going to run into a few punishing problems on your way to home theater happiness. Fortunately, Wilkinson's First Law of Home Theater (mine, not Video Technical Editor Scott's) states: "There ain't no problem that can't be solved by throwing large amounts of money at it."

Bob Ankosko  |  Oct 14, 2014  |  0 comments
Build Quality
Price $40

At A Glance
Stupidly simply setup
Multiroom music on a shoestring

Doesn’t work with landline, DSL, or Internet phone service
Limited by the number and location of phone jacks in the house
Subject to the vagaries of existing wires running through the walls
A less-than-hi-fi solution

The Verdict
Moxivo provides a low-tech, down-and-dirty way to shuttle music through dormant phone lines, but don’t expect audiophile quality.

In “A New Use for Old Wires” we described Intellegg’s Moxivo multiroom music kit, which is nothing more than a set of inexpensive cables that lets cord cutters use dormant phone lines to spread music around the house. It sounds great in theory but I was curious to see how well the “system” actually works, so I sought out a cord cutting household (I have Internet phone service at home, which is a no-no). As a new homeowner, my twenty-something son has no intention of signing up for traditional phone service, so his 18-year-old two-story home offered a perfect environment for the test.

Scott Wilkinson  |  Feb 06, 2005  |  0 comments

When I reviewed two of the Harmony universal remotes, then offered by Intrigue Technologies, in the "Cross Currents" column of UAV's July/August 2004 issue, I was thrilled with their many important innovations. However, I was less than thrilled with their design and button layout, which prevented my unreserved recommendation.

Kim Wilson  |  Apr 30, 2012  |  3 comments

Price: $99 At A Glance: Control A/V gear from an iOS device or Android smartphones • Access to Logitech Harmony’s vast database of IR codes • Simplified setup of complex macro commands • Exclusive iPad feature offers logo-based TV guide

There are plenty of universal remotes to choose from, but my favorite has always been the Harmony line of remotes from Logitech. Their seamless integration with an online database offers fast and simple end-user programming. Knowing this, I was really looking forward to reviewing the Harmony Link, which provides the same simple programming as all other Harmony remotes. The big difference: Instead of programming an actual remote, the Harmony Link accesses your home Wi-Fi network to allow control of your A/V gear with an iOS device (iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch running iOS 4.0 or later) or Android smartphone (running OS 2.0 to 2.3.4; not tablets, yet).

Scott Wilkinson  |  May 27, 2008  |  2 comments

Perhaps the most important aspect of any home-entertainment system is how you control it. What good is a pristine picture and sublime sound if members of your family—or even you—can't easily enjoy it? Each device has its own remote control with a different layout, making it nearly impossible for anyone to operate the system effectively.

Darryl Wilkinson  |  Jan 26, 2009  |  0 comments
Price: $250 At A Glance: Exceptionally intuitive • Web-based setup procedure • Help function uses questions and answers to fix system problems • Programmable power-on, inter-key, inter-device delays

Pretty and Pretty Smart

I don’t know what they put in the water cooler at Logitech, but I want to start drinking it. The Harmony One is another in its long list of affordable universal remote controls. It looks great, is easy to program, and is sweetly simple to use. The Harmony One is as narrow as most single-device remotes, but it’s thinner and surprisingly light. It’s even easier to hold and use. At the business end is a bright 1.25-by-1.5-inch color touchscreen with enough resolution that you can easily recognize the tiny DVD logo on the DVD player icon. The backlit hard keys are distinctly grouped together by function (transport, numeric keypad, etc.). Although the individual keys are only slightly larger than those on an average remote, each has its own unique shape and is spaced far enough apart so that you can easily use the remote for basic operations without looking at it. The Harmony One includes a built-in motion sensor that’s supposed to wake the remote when you pick it up. It’s not super sensitive, though, so sometimes you’ll need to give the remote a quick shake to bring it to life. To recharge the battery, just place the remote in its horizontal charging cradle. My older Harmony 890 is sometimes finicky and refuses to make contact—and therefore doesn’t charge—when resting in its cradle. This one has a deeper well that ensures a solid connection between the contact points on the remote and the charging cradle. By the way, the rechargeable battery is removable and replaceable, much like a cordless phone’s battery. This makes it environmentally friendly, and it won’t force you to buy a new remote when the battery finally expires.

Darryl Wilkinson  |  Dec 30, 2014  |  1 comments

PRICE $350

Color touchscreen with vibration and gesture support
Emits IR from remote, hub, or blasters
Integrates with multiple home automation hubs
Inconsistent performance with SmartThings Hub
No remote control locator feature
Limited external IR emitter outputs

The apply named Harmony Ultimate Home Control is the ultimate home and AV controller you can buy, program, and use without the help of a professional integrator.

It was January of 2013, and Logitech, in an effort to “refocus its strategic direction,” announced it would divest itself (by end of the year) of several non-core product categories—among them speaker docks, digital video security cameras, and, notably, its Harmony activity-based universal remote controls. Unfortunately, by that time, short of the fancy installer-only control systems from the likes of URC, Control4, and others, Harmony had pretty much eliminated the competition for remote controls selling for more than $50. So a dim, non-Harmonious future looked imminent for DIY home theater enthusiasts wanting more than the standard, three-in-one, el-cheapo universal hanging on a peg at Walgreens...

John Sciacca  |  May 05, 2020  |  0 comments

PRICE $1,999

Solves major TV installation issue
Solid build quality
Out-of-the-box automation
Limited horizontal swivel range
Awkward power/cable routing
Professional installation highly recommended

The MM860 costs more than many TVs, but it solves a common installation issue, performs reliably, and looks cool.

As long as architects design houses with a fireplace as the focal point of the living/family room, people will continue to mount their TVs above the fireplace mantel. But a problem with that location is that it situates the screen too high for comfortable viewing. And even though people know that height is going to be an issue, they often have no other obvious installation choice and are consequently forced to suffer life with TVOF (TV Over Fireplace) syndrome.

Adrienne Maxwell  |  Mar 10, 2008  |  0 comments
Lighting control for cowards.

When selecting products to review, I like to tackle new categories. Every new genre I explore provides the opportunity to better understand the industry as a whole. There is, however, one category that I've avoided like the plague: lighting systems. Why? Because my mama taught me never to stick fingers, screwdrivers, or any other conductive material into a wall socket. I have a healthy fear of my mama and an even healthier fear of performing any task that might lead to electrocution, fire, or total protonic reversal.

John Higgins  |  Apr 12, 2006  |  0 comments
This Isn't Your Grandfathers Remote Control.

Say the words "universal remote" to some, and disturbing visions of programming a remote button by button fill their minds. Quite often, after these long, intimate sessions between you and your remotes, the universal remote doesn't perform exactly as expected, and you find yourself keeping the old remotes within reach in case something doesn't work as planned. After some time passes, the old remotes are used more often and the universal remote eventually disappears beneath the couch to be forgotten. So, why bother with another remote that supposedly does everything?

Darryl Wilkinson  |  Dec 01, 2003  |  0 comments
The best thing to happen to home theater since the DVD.

Quick, what do your home theater system's remote control and your underwear have in common? (If your answer is that they both require batteries, I don't want to hear about it.) The correct answer is that they both need to be a comfortable fit (physically in the case of the underwear and ergonomically/functionally in the case of the remote) or else they'll annoy the hell out of you all evening long. Unfortunately, while the standard remote controls that come with most home theater components may be able to control multiple devices, when it comes to using them on a daily basis to operate an entire home theater system, they're usually about as cozy as a tight pair of burlap boxers.

Darryl Wilkinson  |  Sep 18, 2006  |  0 comments
Is it possible to improve the greatest invention since the wheel?

If I needed any additional proof of the iPod's ubiquitous nature, I found it the other day when my son pointed out a state trooper with an iPod stuffed into his uniform shirt pocket and telltale white earbuds popped in his ears. I'm sure the trooper was perfectly capable of doing his law-enforcing job whilst enjoying a tune or two, but the thought of state troopers packing iPods gave me pause. What's next? Carthusian monks contemplating God's gift of the click wheel while rocking out to some Gregorian chant?