Logitech Harmony 1100 Universal Remote Review

Posted in Review by Shane McGlaun on April 24th, 2009

harmony-1100-logitechI talked about the Logitech Harmony 1100 universal remote control back in February when we learned that the slick tablet style remote would sell for about $500. Today we are going to take a hands on look at the Harmony 1100 and see if the touchscreen beauty is worth all that cash. If you are in need of a universal remote for your complex home theater and those cheap, checkout line remotes can’t handle your gear, this may be just the product you need. Read on for all of the details on the Logitech Harmony 1100.

Features & Specifications

The Logitech Harmony 1100 is a rectangular remote with a 3.5-inch touchscreen and a backlit screen and keys. Dedicated keys for channel and volume along with other functions are integrated and the remote supports RF devices with an optional RF Extender. Power for the remote comes from a rechargeable lithium ion battery and a charge station is included. The Logitech Harmony 1100 can control up to 15 devices, including home automation gear and programs via a USB connection to your PC.

In Use

The first thing most people notice about the Logitech Harmony 1100 is the price. At $499.99 MSRP, it is not cheap and is not something that the average person with a DVD player and a cable box will want to buy. The Logitech Harmony 1100 is a remote for the home theater and home automation enthusiast that needs a remote that is easy to program for lots of components and makes using a complex home theater easier — something the Logitech Harmony 1100 offers in spades.

Programming the remote is very easy and requires software to be installed on your computer and a USB connection to the computer. The software works with Windows and Mac computers. To program the remote all you need to know are the brand and model number of your components. You enter the brand name and model into the software and the software programs the remote for the device; you don’t have to enter any numerical codes.

Once you program your devices (up to 15 of them) into the Logitech Harmony 1100, the real beauty of the remote is ready to happen. Where the remote really pays you back for the hefty investment is in the activities that you can set up. Anyone with a home theater using multiple components that require several inputs to be changed on the TV, receiver, and cable box knows that while you might be able to run the system, your spouse or a visitor is hopelessly lost.

The activities set up of the 1100 lets you set up simply one-button macros to do everything for activities you would do with your home theater like watch TV, listen to music on the radio, listen to a CD, play a game and any other task your home theater will do. You go through an easy to follow set up process where the software asks you what components your activity uses, what inputs need to be used, and what components will control the volume. Once programmed all you (or a visitor) needs to do is point the remote at the home theater and press one button for the activity. The inputs will be changed automatically and in a short time, you are ready to do whatever you wanted without having to use more than one remote or change anything manually.

One thing you will quickly notice if your wife and kids are like mine is that they often stand right in front of my home theater while the remote is doing its thing. This results in the remote thinking that you are on the right input, but you may not be. This is easy to fix with a help button on the remote. You press it and the remote walks you through a set of questions that will find what exactly is wrong. Once you find the problem, for instance the TV is on the wrong input, you hit the button telling the remote that the input is wrong and it will change the inputs until the right one is selected then you press yes the problem is fixed and you are golden.

You may find that some of the functions for your components are not automatically installed on the Logitech Harmony 1100. This can be fixed easy enough if you have the stock remote thanks the ability for the 1100 to learn commands simply by aiming the stock remote at the 1100 and pressing the appropriate button.

The large touchscreen of the remote is customizable with icons for specific channels and a customizable layout. The rectangular form factor can take a bit of getting used to and thanks to most functions being controlled by touchscreen buttons you will always be looking at the remote when you are using it. Most users learn the placement of buttons on normal remotes and can operate components without looking at the remote, this won’t happen with the 1100.

Pros

  • Looks cool
  • Automates tasks common to your home theater
  • Easy to program

Cons

  • Expensive

Verdict

Overall, the Logitech Harmony 1100 is fantastic for users with complex home theaters and home automation gear. The remote is expensive, but it’s cheaper than most other remotes in the same capability class from other manufacturers. If you want an easy to use remote that makes using a complex home theater easy for the non-enthusiast, it’s easy to justify the asking price for the Harmony 1100.

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