The standard universal remote has been getting a lot of competition lately from smartphone (and tablet) app. There are plenty of arguments for both (and you can read some here), but for most people, a dedicated remote is still going to provide the best all-around experience for controlling a complex entertainment system. Logitech just released its newest Harmony remote which combines the best features of it’s line of programmable remotes with some of the things people like about apps.
The Harmony line of remotes have been favorites among DIY home theater enthusiast, and for good reason. They let users ditch all their other remotes, use an intuitive activity-based system and are easy to program with a PC. The Harmony Touch now makes all of that even easier. The Touch features a 2.4-inch color touch screen so you can tap and swipe through your favorite movie. Want to fast-forward? Just slide your finger across the touch screen. You’ll notice that the remote doesn’t have a lot of physical buttons because much of the operation is centered on the screen. Commonly accessed buttons, such as volume and channel, are provided, and some are even offered both as a touchscreen option (such as fast forward, pause/play) and as a physical button, so you can use the method you’re most comfortable with.
A close-up of the Harmony Touch screen
An improvement to the standard favorite channel list allows you to add favorite channel icons (up to 50) and then tap a channel to not only change the channel but also turn the whole system on at once. Essentially the system adds a favorite channel layer onto the “Watch TV” activity so you can sit down and immediately Press the CNN button without bothering to turn your TV and sound system on or switch inputs.
Once the remote has been initially setup, you can do a lot of customizing with in the remote without having to reconnect to a PC. The Touch communicated via IR, controls up to 15 components and sells for $249. Electronic House will be doing a review of the Harmony Touch soon, so keep and eye out for it.
Grant Clauser has been covering home electronics for more than 10 years with editorial roles in several consumer and trade magazines. He's done ISF-level damage to hundreds of reviewed products and has had training from THX, the Home Acoustics Alliance, Control4 and Sencore. His latest book is Necessary Myths. Follow him on Twitter @geclauser.
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