Pros - Ergonomic design
- Qualty and responsive touch screen display
- Good IR performance from main unit and RF extender
Cons - NO SEQUENCES (in Logitech parlance, otherwise known as key macros)
- RF control refers to RF control of an IR extender, not control of RF devices
Summary This is probably my most troubling purchase in a number of years. As your typical techno-junkie, I stumbled onto some marketing materials for the latest line of Harmony remotes; namely the 900 and 1100. Already owning the 880, which I liked but found to bet somewhat uncomfortable in it's ergonomic design and subsequently fell into disuse, I was already set to purchse the next generation of Harmony remotes.As I ran out of space, I wanted to add...
TRAP 1 - The marketing gimmick was to promote these remotes with a higher model number than the prior - namely, I had an 880 - one would assume that the 900 and 1100 are at least a STEP UP. Specifically, I MADE THE ERROR thinking that the new remotes would retain functionality existent within my 880 -- PLUS some extra features like the better LCD, touch screen, ergonomic design, RF (more an upgrade from the 890), etc. NO SO!
There is a key feature which I personally have relied on in all of my previous remotes (Harmony 880, Sony's, Philips Pronto's, etc). Namely the inability to assign a series of buttons to one button. It's rather interesting to note that the Logitech Harmony Product Manager (?!) would actually write a review for his own product here (5 stars of course) and completely substantiate this lacking capability.
Well, interesting in a cynical way. My trust of the Logitech product line was betrayed in this case, because I didn't conduct the normal pre-purchase diligence which I conduct in practically every other purchase. In this case, I looked at the price point ($399!) and find few items at this price point - it's either much less or much more. Since my prior 880 model was about $200+, I figured this new model (900) must be better. Well, mud in my face on this count.
So, back to the Product Manager's statement. After spending hours dredging the forums for information about how to get a sequence on my 900, I came to the sad reality that it didn't exist. Ok, I am still a loyal Logitech customer (3 Dinovo Edges, Z5500 speakrs, Z10 speakrs, Harmony 880, and so on) and will give them the benefit of the doubt to remedy this in some upcoming firmware update. As I dug further in the forums, including a petition on Logitech's own website, it became evident that there was rush for Logitech to remedy this deficit. A call to customer support and finally reading the Product Managers comments sealed this remotes fate.
Unfortunately, to suggest that removing sequences is a design improvement and/or superseded in functionality by "Activities" is ludicrous. Activities as a concept is a basic staple of all good universal remotes. Nothing new and innovative here. It's essentially a complex sequence of steps with an awareness of device state - tracking if a device is already on / off. For example, "Watch TV', "Watch DVD", "Play Games", etc. An activity - simple.
Sequences on the other hand serve a different purpose than Activities. These are like mini-Activities which can be performed within an Activity. Let's say that your Cable Box has 4 fast forward speeds, whereby with each press of the Fast Forward Button (FF) the speed increases x1, x2, x3, and x4 respectively. Who want's to sit there pressing FF 4 times every commercial break?
Of course not, we are willing to dish out $399 for a top-end Logitech remote to simplify these tasks! No problem, go into the remote configuration and program a "new button", we can call it FFx4 which will simulate the pressing of Cable Box remote FF button 4 times. Easy. Go into the Activty, such as "Watch TV" and assign the Next Track (>>|) button to our new FFx4 sequence! Woot! Most all prior Logitech Harmony remotes, at much lower price points, have this basic and fundamental ability.
Back to our Product Manager's comments, essentially dismissing the value of the above capability of remotes in the sub-$100 range. More specifically, he noted that this feature "very few people actually used it". As I read more and more about this remote (and the 1100), it seems the "very few people" are making quite a ruckus about this discarded capability.
Sadly, I suspect this discarded capability might be indicative of a more serious issue in Logitech's business strategy. Being dismissive of the Harmony user base, those who have vocalized great concern about this missing capability, leads me to believe that there are either serious design flaws with these devices or there is a market strategy to offer these capabilities with more expensive models to be released. In either case, this is indeed cause for concern.
Hopefully I will save someone else from this grief. In my case, I have to return not only this Harmony 900; but also the Harmony 1100, 2 PS3 Adapters, and an RF Extender. For those interested, the Harmony 1100 has the exact same problem (removed sequence functionality) as the 900 model. What a huge disappointment, waste of time, and money. For several hundred dollars I expect intelligent devices, not kludges and excuses.
Updated on Oct 27, 2009
TRAP 2 - "RF controls out-of-sight devices" (from box cover, similar language elsewhere) gives the impression that remote controls RF devices - at least it gave me that impression. The reality is that this only controls an RF module, which in turn sends IR signals to devices "out of sight". Really not much different than buying those IR extenders which send an RF signal from transmitter to receiver for in-cabinet systems.
To put this in perspective, had Sequences been available I would have given this remote a 4.5 star rating. I would have dinged it for the misleading RF. Yes, a 1 star rating is all this gets due to Sequences. Because a fundamental need of mine, which I've relied on in the past and continue to, is not available in the remote. Another vendor will get my business for remote needs.
Updated on Aug 24, 2010Unfortunately, I got stuck with the remotes and accessories as my hesitancy passed the return period. After many months giving up on them, I thought I would follow up and see if by some chance with enough time passed they would have an update. Nope. The petition is still running on the Logitech site. So, if you are thinking maybe a "firmware update" will come at some point, you are likely "wishful thinking". Logitech has no intent to resolve this. Lesson learned : Think long and heard with community feedback to support future Logitech purchases. Hope other vendors see this opportunity to fill a major gap in the marketplace. Till then, caveot emptor!
Pros Great Form Factor
Great touch screen
Great button layout
Cons NO MACROS OR SEQUENCES!!!
This totally cripples the remote. $400 for a remote without macros? INSANE!
Summary Shame on CNET for not mentioning the removal of macros on this remote. Even their cheapest offering has macro capabilities (Sequences in Harmony-speak). This is NOT a successor to the Harmony One. Looks are deceiving. It uses the same codeset as the Harmony 1100, not the Harmony One. Such a shame. Besides the Harmony 1100, this has to be the most expensive remote on the market which lacks basic macro capability.
Pros Simplicity and user friendliness. Once you get it set up, your 5 year old can use your system.
Love being able to control zone 2 upstairs with no extra remote sensor installation.
Cons If you want to go deep into menu functions or button functions of complex pieces of gear like a $3000 receiver, the process is a pain. User friendly usually means poweruser-unfriendly--and that is the case here. But everyday use is still a joy.
Summary This thing is too expensive for the kind of consumer who will love it.
For the consumer who will spend this much for a remote, it's too locked down.
Once you get above about $300 I encourage you to explore custom remote systems properly set up for your home. You'll have much more control, operation will be even more simple, and the frustration level of a 'one-size-fits-most' product that doesn't quite fit will go away.
Speaking as somebody who had (and liked) the H1 but needed RF control, this remote mostly works well for me, and I've now got it set up so it's mostly perfect for both zones it controls. So I'm one of the few who considers this item a good buy.
The Wal-Mart shoppers squawking about price here aren't the target market for this thing. For Logitech's sake, I hope there are enough consumers like me who are willing to deal with the shortcomings of their approach to save a few hundred on a custom control system.
Pros Nice screen
Cons No sequences. Logitech has inexplicably remove sequence (macro) capabilities from this and the new 1100.
Summary I can't believe the cnet review didn't even mention the most glaring omission in this product. Removing core features like sequences is a very disturbing trend. Even a $20 remote has macros. Even most of logitech's other remotes have sequences, albeit only 5 steps. It's truly shocking that one of their flagship models and probably all new models in the future won't have them. This product is certainly worthy of a boycott to send a strong message that destroying such a great product is unacceptable to consumers.
We had to beg and plead for years to get sequences. Then they finally relented and gave us 5 steps. Pathetic, but better than nothing. I'm flabbergasted by this latest move to take them away.
Imagine paying $400 for a remote, getting it home and trying to program a simple macro only to discover it can't be done.
Pros Controls hidden devices
Works without pointing
Easy RF setup
Cons Confusion over sequences
Summary Regarding sequences, or macros...
The most relevent use of 'sequences' are Activities, which is the core feature of every Harmony remote. When you want to watch a DVD for example, you push a single button to turn on your TV, your DVD player and your AV receiver and switch each device to the correct input. If you desire extra functions as part of an activity, such as switching to a certain sound or picture mode, or enabling closed captions you can include those commands right in the activity. Another common use of sequences are favorite channels, where a single button press will send the 1-2-3 commands in order to tune to channel 123. Favorite channels are fully supported. It is also possible to assign individual commands to a hard button within an activity. For example, I use my Clear and Enter buttons to control my picture-in-picture functions.
At Harmony, our preference is to automate the creation of sequences by baking them in to other features based on how people actually use their remotes. Above are a few examples of sequences but with different names. Where we have offered the ability to program full command sequences as a unique feature in other remotes, very few people actually used it.
Hope this helps,
Ian Crowe, Product Manager, Harmony Remotes