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The screen and buttons glow subtly, approving of your entertainment choices. You can almost hear it say, “Pass the popcorn.”
How many remotes does it take to watch TV? It sounds like the setup for a cruel joke about our entertainment system. Just to watch a television show, we have separate remotes for the TV, TiVo, audio receiver, and HDMI switch. The universal Harmony One is nearly perfect to replace these and other controllers, combining all your devices into one sleek, adaptable remote.
We actually had fun configuring the Harmony One—forget matching your device to an arcane numeric code, like the cheap universal remotes of the ’90s. After installing the software and connecting the Harmony One via USB, we entered information about our components into the Mac. The software referenced its database of 225,000 IR devices (IR is used by the vast majority of remotes), from which it can add the functionality of up to 15 individual remotes to the Harmony One. Best of all, the software guided us through a few simple questions in order to create the macros required for our particular setup. For example, since we set it to control an Xbox 360 and a PS2, it asked which device we use to play DVDs. Then, when we’re ready for movie night, we will just tap the “Watch a DVD” option on the touch-sensitive LCD, and the Harmony One will send out all the needed commands to turn the on TV, audio receiver, and Xbox.
The Harmony screen changes contextually, displaying custom keys that don’t fit on the physical buttons, like the TiVo thumbs up and down. But after launching an activity, we used the physical buttons more often—they feel great under the fingers. Subtle shape and positional differences identify the important keys so you don’t have to look down at the remote. The Harmony even lights up when it’s moved—a huge help in the dark.
Once you can control your entertainment center with a single remote, world domination is only a click or two away.
REQUIREMENTS: Mac OS X 10.3 or later, USB port, Internet connection
Software knows how to control 225,000 devices. Touch-sensitive screen buttons change in different contexts. Recharges when placed on its cradle. Comfortable shape and physical buttons.
Like the traditional remotes it replaces, requires line-of-sight, IR pointing versus multiroom-spanning RF commands.