December 04, 2009
| by Stephen Hopkins
The Harmony One was extremely well received when it was introduced more than a year ago. Its smooth lines, higher-resolution screen and touch-sensitive operation took the popular Harmony line to a new level of sophistication.
The only missing piece was radio-frequency (RF) capability. Enter the new Harmony 900, which fills that need and then some.
Other improvements over the Harmony One are a sharper screen and color themes for quick customization, as well as a row of colored hard buttons for things like DVR thumbs up/down and lighting control.
Comfortable Ergonomics, Easy Setup
The 900 retains the best attributes of the One, namely the comfortable ergonomics, light weight and ease of setup. It’s well built and solid, though it doesn’t have the heft and robust feel of some higher-priced offerings. The gloss black on the top surface is both eye- and fingerprint-catching.
And, thankfully, the 900 retains the One’s deep and wide charging base that securely engages the contacts without slipping.
Online Setup a Breeze
Harmony’s online-based setup is extremely straightforward. After a quick survey about what equipment you have, how it’s connected, and how you use it, the software automatically takes care of 90 percent of your setup in 30 to 45 minutes, even for complex theaters including multiple sources and displays.
You can customize things like IR delays, activity macro ordering, power on/off settings, touchscreen icons and favorite channels. You can also set up complex IR-based home automation.
Unfortunately, the Harmony 900 doesn’t integrate with any home automation systems using its RF capabilities, so IR still has to be part of the mix. This is actually a downgrade from the Harmony 890 and 1000, which can integrate with wireless Z-Wave-based lighting control systems.
Flaws in Daily Use
The 900 works well in day-to-day activities, and the odd misstep is easily rectified by the help function within a couple of button presses.
Stephen Hopkins is chief technology editor for EH Publishing. He writes product reviews, features, and focuses heavily on 3D TV, iPhone and iPad apps, and digital content.