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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.