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Logitech Harmony Remote Control for Xbox 360 Review
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Logitech Harmony Remote Control for Xbox 360 Review

Having too many remotes is a common problem in a normal household. With VCRs, DVD players, audio systems, and of course the TV, remote controls start to pile up quickly. Now with the Xbox 360 media remote, that adds one more remote into the mix. The perfect solution to this remote mayhem is the universal remote. The universal remote isn't that new of a concept, but Logitech has recently developed a universal remote specifically designed for the Xbox 360. The Xbox 360 Logitech Harmony remote is a slim monster that will control anything with an infrared receiver and has dedicated Xbox 360 A, B, X, and Y buttons.

Universal remotes are great because they can be programmed to control almost any device. Because these remotes are so powerful and can control anything, they don't come cheap. Normal universal remotes can cost anywhere from $30 to $300 depending on what you are looking for. The Xbox 360 Logitech Harmony remote weights in at $130, but is it worth it?

The entire package contains the Harmony remote, USB cable (for programming), installation CD, installation booklet, and four AAA batteries. The only other thing you need to get rolling is a PC and an internet connection. The setup process is all done through your computer with the use of USB. There is a port on the front of the remote that will allow you to do this. After installing the software, connecting the remote, your adventure begins! You get the find the model number of every electronic unit you plan on using with your remote. This usually involves digging through old boxes for instruction manuals, or moving furniture to read the fine print on the back of the TV.

After getting the model numbers for everything you want to control, you are ready to start programming. The remote can control up to 12 different devices, so you could even program your remote for multiple TVs if you really wanted to. By entering the model numbers during the setup process on your computer you setup specific activities that you want to do. The basics are watch TV, play Xbox 360, and watching a movie, but you can have up to eight activities, so there is room for everything else.

The Harmony remote will also work with any setup you have. For example, if in order to play your Xbox 360 you have to turn on your TV, set your TV to a special mode, turn on your audio system, and set a bunch of other devices, the Harmony can handle it all. This is all configured when you are setting up the remote. Logitech also has a huge database of electronics that is continually updated and if you want to control something that isn't in their database, the Harmony remote can actually learn how to control new devices on its own! There is an infrared receiver on the back of the remote that can pick up the signals of other remotes and actually learn how to send out that exact signal. The Harmony remote can truly control anything that can be control via remote.

The Xbox 360 Harmony remote is sleek, slim, sexy, and glows bright can't get much better than that. The remote was designed to flow well with the Xbox 360 console and it definitely does. The bottom portion of the controller is almost the same white color as the 360 and the top silver portion and trimming is very similar to the chrome DVD bezel. The very tip and entire back of the remote is black and flows well with the remote. The three Xbox 360 buttons are near the center of the remote and are like miniature versions of the actual buttons.

The best part of the remote is the LCD screen located near the top of the remote. The screen lets you know what activity you are doing, displays the devices you can control, can offer help if something is working right, and a number of other functions. The screen has two buttons on each side that allow you to select something the screen is displaying. Also, below the screen are two buttons that act as scroll buttons that will let you navigate through the different pages if there is more than one. For example, the screen can control functions that the remote doesn't have buttons for. Most TVs have specific buttons that are unique to that TV or that brand and the screen on the Harmony remote will let you use these functions.

One of the few drawbacks this remote has is the size of some of the buttons. Total, there are approximately fifty different buttons, which really isn't a boat load, but many of the buttons are relatively small or extremely flat. This is most evident at the bottom of the silver area on the remote (see image to right). These set of buttons (Vol. +/-, Chan. +/-, Glow, and selection pad) are extremely flat and close together. If you are trying to use one of these buttons in the dark, (especially if you have fat fingers) it is very hard to know what you are pressing and pressing more than one button at a time is very easy to do. Because the buttons are very small when compared to a normal remote, it’s pretty hard to find the button you are looking for, without looking at the remote or if you are in a dark room. Luckily there is actually a glow button on the remote that will light all the buttons up. This is a very neat feature, and is extremely helpful. The remote also lights up every time you press a button, so if you need to press additional buttons you can easily see what you are pressing.

Another slight drawback with this remote is sometimes it is easy for it to get confused, especially if you continue to use normal remotes. The Harmony remote memorizes the state of each device (whether it is on, off, and what it is set to). If you start changing settings and turning things on and off without the Harmony remote, the Harmony remote gets confused and probably won't make the proper changes when switching activities. This is however, an understandable problem since the Harmony has no real way of knowing the current state of devices. The best way to avoid this problem is to simply hide all your old remotes so you don't accidentally use them.

Overall, the Xbox 360 Logitech Harmony remote is an amazing remote at a reasonable price. This remote can control anything in Logitech's massive database of products and can even learn how to control devices that aren't in the database. The razor thin style and Xbox 360 theme looks awesome and makes it the ultimate remote for the Xbox 360. The remote is outstanding, but before purchasing you need to know if you will really use it to its full ability. If you don't already have a problem with too many remotes, or just have a TV and an Xbox 360 to control, the remote won't be worth the $130 price tag. However, if you have a full home theater system with dozens of devices and a remote for each one, you should be rushing to the store to pick one of these things up!

Final Rating: 8 out of 10.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

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