Submission by Nick Shore – Eh whats that, yet another programmable remote control, and for under £50, (see the link at the bottom) but is it any good ?
A quick install of the software from CD, plug in the USB cable, and away we go, the configuration is done online on the harmonyremote.com website, you can even register and login for a Test Drive of the config even before you have the remote.
I had actually registered and listed my devices before the remote arrived, and I had a basic setup up and running within 20 minutes of unpacking it, including upgrading it to the latest firmware.
How it works – First of all you add your devices, listing by manufacturer and model, this database is being added to by other Harmony users all the time, and all my devices were easily found. Then we get to the clever bit, the remote features activity buttons, Watch a Movie, Watch TV, Listen to Music and More Activities can be set on the soft buttons next to the LCD screen.
The web configuration wizard takes you through the activities, asking which device should be used for watching and which input/channel to select, what device for sound, and which input should be used on the amp etc. building a macro set which will trigger when you hit the button. This means it is very easy to set up activities for all the family to use.
If the remote should get out of sync with the actual state of the device it is controlling, a quick press of the help button will take you through and set the devices to the right inputs etc.
Tweaking – Having got the configuration on the remote, you might find that something doesn’t work quite how you want, the configuration can be tweaked on the website and then downloaded to the remote. Once you have finished the configuration a file is downloaded and the installed config utility programmes the remote via the USB cable.
LCD Screen – As each activity is selected the LCD screen is used to set up 4 or 6 soft buttons depending on your preference (the first line can be configured to show the name of the activity rather than being used for buttons) I can hear the Pronto remote owners moaning at the thought of the only 4 soft buttons, but coupled with the “Next”, “Sound” and “Picture” buttons below the screen you can page throught many pages of buttons.
Hitting the “Device” button takes you to the list of devices and once you have chosen one you can then page through all the functions available. Coupled with the 51 keys on the remote, this functionality gives the best of both worlds, hard buttons for most functions plus soft buttons avoiding the need to remember that eg red button on Watch TV means switch Aspect.
Conclusion – This is a great family friendly remote, it takes a little tweaking to get it perfect, but once set up it is easy for anyone to control even the most complex of AV setups.