Product Review (February 2010)
Logitech® Harmony® 900 Advanced Universal Remote

By Kevin Nakano


Logitech Harmony 900Logitech's Harmony line is by far the most talked about universal remote by consumer's who want to control their entire collection of electronic components. The Harmony line has matured over the years and with the introduction of the new Harmony 900, full RF (radio frequency) capability is now possible on a simple, easy to use design. Harmony remotes are known for their easy programming and excellent support of electronic components from their massive online database. The Harmony 900 looks similar to the already popular Harmony One that was released last year, but has added features that make the Harmony 900 more advanced and better than ever. The RF interface eliminates the need to point the remote directly at the components being controlled. Instead, Logitech includes an RF base receiver with an integrated IR blaster that takes the wireless RF commands (up to 100 feet away) and blasts IR signals to nearby components. In addition, a pair of IR repeaters are also included to provide wired IR signals to other components in the event the IR blaster cannot reach them. This allows the electronics to be hidden away in a cabinet without losing the ability to control the components. The Harmony 900 is designed to replace up to 15 existing remotes, greatly reducing the remote clutter on your table. The “Activities” buttons provide users the ability to create one-touch controls for commonly used functions such as “Watch TV” or “Watch DVD” without the need for multi-step interactions. In addition, the reliable RF interface prevents intermittent problems associated with losing the line-of-sight, which are often encountered with IR interfaces.

The Harmony 900 includes a dock that cradles the remote, making it easy to recharge when needed. The two remote contacts are gold plated to provide a reliable connection to the charging base. The docking station is powered by a small universal AC adapter (100-240VAC, 50/60 Hz) that supplies 5.5V, 800mA to the dock. The power cable attaches to the underside of the base from where the wiring can be routed in a guide to exit the top or bottom, depending on where it is placed. The user-replaceable 3.7V, 950mAh Li-ion battery pack has enough capacity to last for several days under normal to heavy use. The charging base has a diffused white LED at the top of the docking platform that is not overly bright and makes it easy to find in the dark. The remote measures 8.75" x 2.3" (L x W x H) and weighs approximately 6 ounces.

Display
The Harmony® 900 features a high resolution 2.2-inch color touch screen with soft keys surrounding the sides and bottom of the display. The top right of the display shows the battery level and time. The top left displays the mode and page number of the command set. The screen buttons are large for those with big fingers, making it easy to operate. The color screen is pleasing to look at and easy to see thanks to the well designed and evenly distributed backlighting.

Harmony 900 ReceiverRF Receiver
The RF receiver that comes with the remote is capable of blasting a large IR signal to nearby components. The slim low-profile design allows it to be placed in a shallow opening. The Harmony 900 has many of the great features found in Harmony One such as the one-touch activity buttons for simple tasks Up to 15 remotes can be controlled with a single Harmony 900.

 

Harmony 900Setup
The placement of components needs to be considered when configuring the system. If a large number of components are grouped in one location, the main receiving unit works best in that area. Other components hidden away that do not require frequent access such as a DVR can use the IR repeaters. Unlike the Harmony One, The Harmony 900 has the option of using the RF link to command components in the system. This is clearly a big advantage over the well designed Harmony One.

Logitech Harmony 900Programming
We installed Harmony's remote software on a HP Pavilion dv7 laptop running Windows Vista 64-bit. We downloaded the latest software and firmware versions from the Logitech website. The Harmony application can check for the latest updates automatically when it connects to the Harmony server. Harmony's online database, which supports more than 225,000 devices from more than 5,000 brands is most impressive. It is by far the best database we have ever seen and every product that we have ever used is in this system. We were even able to take our existing configuration defined in an earlier Harmony remote and seamlessly target the new Harmony 900. Adding new components is easy with the Harmony website. Setting up the "Activities" buttons such as "Watch TV" or "Watch a DVD" is just as simple and the software helps guide you through them.

IR Code Capture
While the Harmony database is extensive, it is possible that there will be devices not found in their IR library. This may certainly be the case for some newer products that hit the market well after you install the Harmony into your system. The good news is that the Harmony 900 has a built-in IR receiver designed to capture virtually any IR code from an existing remote. This is a powerful feature that comes for free with this design. A set of commonly used commands are available. However, it is possible for the user to add specific IR commands if needed. This feature allows user to quickly take advantage of new products without having to wait for the IR database to become updated with the new IR commands.

Conclusion
The Harmony® 900 Remote is the latest in advanced remote technology from the Harmony line and offers customers full RF wireless technology for reliable control of their A/V components. Like the earlier Harmony models, the Harmony 900 is easy to program and has the same ergonomic features found in the highly regarded Harmony One design. The new remote includes the colored buttons (red, green, yellow and blue) for interactive Blu-ray menu control. Anyone looking for an all-in-one remote that they can share with their significant other without getting them angry will be pleased with the capabilities and simplicity the Harmony 900 has to offer. Each button is individually sculpted and designed to provide a tactile feel so users can get used to operating the remote by touch. Harmony's extensive database will save users a lot of time setting up their system. The Harmony 900 retails for $400, but has a street price of under $300 making it a great deal.

- Kevin Nakano






OPPO BDP-103 Blu-ray Player




Review System

Projector: Anthem LTX-500v 1080p LCoS Projector
Screen: Stewart Filmscreen 100" FireHawk Screen on a Luxus Deluxe ScreenWall
A/V Receiver: Denon AVR-5308CI THX-Ultra2 7x150W Receiver
Amplification: Parasound HCA-2205AT THX-Ultra Five Channel Amplifier
Front Speakers: Miller & Kreisel S-150THX (L+R) and S-150AC (Center) Speakers
Rear Speakers: Miller & Kreisel SS-250 Tripole® Surround Speakers
Subwoofer: Two Miller & Kreisel MX-350THX MkII THX-Ultra Push-pull Subwoofers
Thermal Management: Active Thermal Management Cool-it II Equipment Cooler
Room Treatments: Echo Buster panels and Bass Buster towers
Set-top Box: Dish Network ViP722 HDTV Satellite and Terrestrial Receiver
Blu-ray Player: OPPO BDP-83 Special Edition Blu-ray Player
HD-DVD Player: Toshiba HD-A1 HD-DVD Player
Game Console: Sony PlayStation 3 with Blu-ray Player
Remote Control: Remote Technologies Inc. RTI T3-V and K4 Controller
Remote Processor: Remote Technologies Inc. RTI MRP-64 Remote Processor
HDMI Cable: Accell Ultra-Run 1.3 HDMI Cable
A/V Cables: Ultralink Platinum and Advanced Performance Series Cables


Review at a glance


Logitech® Harmony® 900 Advanced Universal Remote

Features

  • Large Internet-based component database
  • Windows 98SE/Me/2000/XP or Mac OS X with Safari 1.0
  • 2 Megabytes Non-volatile flash memory
  • Backlit LCD 84 x 48 pixels
  • 56 top mounted hard buttons
  • Infrared sensor
  • USB Interface
  • Speaker
  • Package Contents

  • Harmony® 900 remote control
  • IR blaster
  • Charging station
  • USB cable
  • 2 IR mini blasters
  • 2 AC adapters
  • Lithium-ion battery
  • Installation CD
  • User documentation
  • 1-year limited hardware warranty

    System Requirements

    PC

  • Windows® XP, Windows Vista®, or Windows® 7
  • USB port
  • CD-ROM drive
  • Internet access

    Macintosh® Computer

  • Mac® OS X 10.3 or later
  • USB port
  • CD-ROM drive
  • Internet access

  • Company Information
    Logitech Inc.
    Corporate Headquarters
    6505 Kaiser Drive
    Fremont, CA 94555 USA
    Phone: 510-795-8500
    Sales: 800-231-7717
    Support: 866-826-5722

    Part Number P/N 915-000030
    Source: Manufacture Supplied
    Warranty: One-Year Limited Hardware Warranty
    MSRP: $399.99

    URL: www.logitech.com/harmony


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