It's been a while since I reviewed anything, let alone here, so let's see if I can still manage to properly cover everything.
Logitech Australia, courtesy of their Facebook page, invited followers to participate in a product testing of their Harmony One Advanced remote, and I am one of these lucky product testers. I'm sure they'll have more opportunities or freebies come up soon, so if you like the idea of this jump on board and like their Facebook page. Logitech wants me to let you all know that I'm LPT10177, which is how they keep track of this review.
The Harmony One Advanced Remote is a universal remote used to replace up to fifteen devices in a home theatre (or anywhere really).
After unpacking it all, the first piece to grab anyone's attention will be the remote.
Personally, I found it larger than I expected, but only marginally. Immediately, I noticed my finger prints. It's black and glossy, and hence, a perfectionists nightmare. Logitech provides a microfiber cloth if you can be bothered, but our just sits there messy, taunting me. So, first up, a big shout to all companies who make touch and hand held devices. Not just Logitech, but Apple, Nokia, heaps of laptop vendors and anyone else considering a glass/glossy surface - don't! It looks great on promotional material, but it will forever need a clean from then on.
Ideally, the whole remote would have a matte surface - just like Logitech's mice. The remote's buttons are matte, as they should be, but the space between the buttons is not.
Next to grab my attention was a big blob of black with curves. The remote stand, like the remote, is mostly gloss. The remote sits in the stand very discreetly, and charging is indicated by a white glow from the top (like an Apple product - but without the brushed aluminium and more curves). Knowing the battery length of Logitech products, this device may end up collecting a lot of dust, as you may forget to charge the remote most of the time.
Alas, I have no doubt that in the remote's later years, it will need constant charging though, as the Lithium battery will deteriorate over time. Removable, but not appearing to conform to any standard, it does present an issue. When I do want a replacement battery seven years down the track (that's how long my last Logitech mouse lasted before the battery needed to be on the charge twice a day) will Logitech still be offering this part at a decent price? Or will they just want us to upgrade? Rather than a Lithium battery pack, Logitech could have opted for high yield AA rechargeable batteries. Yes, it probably won't last as long between charges, but swapping out the batteries can be done for little cost at any time.
And my final little (and it's only a very very small one) niggle about the remote is the choice of computer connector you use to plug into the computer. It's your standard mini B USB plug. That's not the issue. The issue is the inconsistency with other Logitech products. My Logitech M950 Performance Mouse uses a micro B USB plug. This means, for two devices that spend almost no time plugged into the computer - never at the same time, I still need two cables. If the remote had used a micro B USB plug (which has been tested to be more durable anyway), it would eliminate a cable on my desk. All companies should stick to one cable for all their products and stick to it. Don't ever make a proprietary connector, I hate companies that feel the need for that… (Not that Logitech does, just a general no-no).
But I can't stress enough that these issues are only really small ones, and I really had to think negatively to think of them. With those additions, the remote becomes perfect, and they're certainly easy changes for Logitech to make. The remote feels light, but not cheap - even grandma will be able to lift it, but you can still hold it like a man for the big game. Which brings me to my next point. After programming, it is incredibly easy to use. I handed it to mum for the first time and said "Here you go!" After explaining what it was and why we needed one, she had a go. Not that watching TV is hard once it's set up. Your first press will turn everything required on and set them to the right settings (TV on, set to Digital TV; Receiver on, set to receive digital input from TV for surround). Your second press is your channel, which if you set it up right, will have pictures. So ABC1 has the ABC1 logo, ABC2 has ABC2, etc. For mum, that's easy. For grandma (providing she has glasses on - there is no way to change font size), it should be fine too, once she's used to it.
All in all, the remote itself gets 9.5/10.
And from here it's all downhill. The Harmony software is where this product falls apart. Thankfully, it's something you only have to use occasionally - once setup is done and remote runs as intended you may as well just uninstall it.
Installation is easy, but is doesn't let you chose what driver you place the software on. For those of you with a SSD as your OS drive, this is annoying. Personally, I prefer my programs separate from my OS. I'm sure is not too hard to fix, just an oversight.
Software requires an internet connection to run, but you should one of them anyway.
Second of all, and this is simply a recommendation from me, make sure you're using a Logitech mouse with Hyper-Fast scrolling, cause never have I ever needed it more. Excel spreadsheets and long webpages are no issue for this mouse, but the drop down lists in Logitech's own Harmony software give it a workout.
Once you're in the software, lots of pages seem to be redundant and unnecessary. For instance, I tell it to download the software to the remote, and it tells me to plug it in. Rather than checking to see if it's already plugged in (it is), it just asks me anyway. Not too much programming effort to check if it's plugged in and flag an error if it's not.
The entire software has an unrounded feel to it. Like it was made, but not tested. It works, but slowly, difficultly, and painfully. There is a vertical scroll bar, and a horizontal scroll bar, but changing the size of the window (maximized for instance) changes nothing, there's just a mass of unused black.
Creating settings and such can be fiddley, the exact layout of the software pages isn't correctly shaped. Often you're asked to save something and you have no idea what you have even changed. The software will lock you within a set of menus until you find a correct combination to escape. The software is one big maze of confusion.
Updating the remote is a slow affair. Once is starts, you may as well go get a coffee and start dinner, it won't be done in any great rush. To write 2Mb (guess, high end maximum) of firmware to any device shouldn't take more than 2mins.
Overall, I've spent two and a half hours in the software getting the remote set up. I was expecting 45 mins.
It's unfortunate that the software here is this bad, as it's the first thing you have to use. Early on, I hadn't even attempted the remote yet, yet I was ready to send the whole package back to Logitech. I fear for my mental wellness after I have an addition to our home theatre. The software is *that* bad.
How to fix it? Well, that's a complicated issue.
First of all, I'd like to see all of Logitech's software conform to the standard Windows GUI. Yes, I get that plonking a picture of your product on the screen lets people know what they've opened, but that means you constrain your window size, and the maximization of the windows achieves nothing (same goes for SetPoint and all the other Logitech software here). Drop down lists for this remote are long, so why constrain us to a tiny part of our high resolution displays? By using a full screen the drop down lists would be manageable, and hence, you could actually manage with a standard scroll wheel.
Next, the software is used *maybe* once every six months. Therefore, it has no need to boot at every Windows start up. There does not need to be a background application, waiting to pop up for when I plug in the remote. When I want a program, I call for it, not expect it to already be there.
And finally, the actual software interface. At least one page in this software has two buttons, and both buttons take me to the same next page. This software feels like it's a PowerPoint presentation with buttons. You can't "skip" to the page you want, you have to click your way there. Why not have a standard screen which shows your remote and the functions mapped to each button (cause presently, there isn't) and a range of wizards for users to add functions accordingly, opening a second window (which can be cancelled and closed at any time) over the top of the first. Or tabs like most browsers. Or any other possible way than how they have done it. A command line interface would be preferable, because, quite simply, it is faster.
Overall, this is a fantastic item of hardware let down by its software. That's an issue Nokia had with their phones and the software on the computers. Millions owned the phone, all hated the software on the computer. Now Nokia suffers against giants that have actually made similar devices with better user interfaces (both on the phone and on the computer).
Thankfully, the Harmony software can promptly be removed as soon as you have the remote set up. You'll never go back to the software until you add more hardware or realise you forgot to add an eject DVD function.
I weighted the remote 90% and the software 10% of the final mark. Hence, the final result for the Harmony One Advanced remote and software is 86%.
Hopefully Logitech can improve this software and made the grade even higher.