Editor's Note (February 19, 2009): The rating on this product has been changed due to competitive changes in the marketplace. Readers interested in this product should compare it to the more recent Logitech Harmony One.
Most of the Logitech Harmony universal remotes we've seen in 2006 have sported a flat, wedge-shaped design. They look slick, but apparently quite a few users are still pining for the textured feel of Logitech's older, peanut-shape clickers. Logitech has answered with the Harmony 670, a $150 model that utilizes the "classic" rounded design of past models, paired with some notable design tweaks and--of course--the latest Harmony software.
From a distance, the Logitech Harmony 670 could be confused with earlier 600-series Harmony models. It measures in at 8 inches long, 2 to 2.5 inches wide and 1.5 inches deep. While we prefer the slim and sleek design of the 500-series Harmony models, the peanut style--very reminiscent of the TiVo remotes--is a bit more comfortable in hand, with finger grooves on the back of the remote. The silver-and-black motif of the remote allows it to blend with most home-theater devices, but the silver finish scuffed quicker than any Harmony remote we've seen before.
The Logitech Harmony 670 crams an astounding number of buttons onto its frame, including a complete numeric keypad, full video-transport controls (play, record, rewind, pause, and so forth), a four-way directional pad, and hotkeys for DVR use as well as quick jumps to the most-used activities (see below). The functional highlight of the Harmony remote series, however, is the LCD screen. Flanked by programmable keys that you can label differently on separate pages, it allows the Harmony to emulate even the even the most esoteric buttons as well as engage activities and macros. While the LCD display works well most of the time, we prefer the one used on the 500 series. With smaller text and fewer buttons by the LCD--four to the 670's six--you're able to read the functions on the screen much more easily. (The 670's default mode actually uses only four of its six contextual buttons, with the top two reserved for the device or activity name, but you can easily toggle the preferences to use all six.) While we were testing the remote, we ran into a few instances where text from the upper-left corner crowded in on text from the upper right, with important text being obscured--the 2 in Input Component 2, for example. Besides the tricky LCD and a difficult-to-find backlight button, the layout for the 670 is pretty good. The buttons on the 670 are placed well, and all consist of the same responsive, hard plastic, which works much better than the mix of rubbery and nontactile metal buttons on the 500-series remotes.
What differentiates the 670 from other Harmony Remotes are the DVR-specific buttons on the center of the unit, encircling the four-way directional pad--by contrast, they're higher up on the 500 series, and lower down on the 720. All of the standard DVR buttons are included--Menu, Guide, and Info, for instance, and while the buttons are made for today's top boxes, they're pretty useful for DVD or VCR playback as well. A new feature that should appeal to HDTV enthusiasts is the breakout sound and picture controls, which, when pressed, list only audio- or visual-based commands on the LCD and allow you to tweak settings (contrast, tint, treble, and so forth) with a dedicated up and down key.
Moving around to the back, the Logitech Harmony 670 uses four AAA batteries. While our Harmony is still running strong, the amount of power needed to run the LCD and the backlight will drain the batteries faster than your average remote's power requirements. The 670 really could have benefited from a recharger dock like the one found on its big brother, the Harmony 880. Instead, you'll probably want to invest in a set of third-party rechargeable nickel-metal-hydride batteries.