Booze, Baseball, and another "B"

Monday, July 28, 2008

Sword of Kings....

After much consideration and deep thought, I bought myself a Harmony One.

Originally I was going to get myself the Harmony 890, but decided that it didn't have enough advantages over the 880 to justify the price. Then I moved to considering the Harmony 880. I've spent plenty of time with the 880, and it's a fine remote. On top of that, it can handle most of the gear in my setup. After thinking I had settled on the 880, I started looking more at the One.

In considering the 880 vs the One, there were a few things that swayed my decision to the One. For starters, I like the raised buttons on the One. I usually watch TV and movies in low-light, so I generally depend on tactile feel to use remotes. While I could do that with the 880, the One is much more suited to the task with its raised and rubberized buttons. In addition to the buttons, I like the touch screen quite a bit. Not only does it look nice, but it adds tons of customizable functionality to the remote. I also liked the design of the One better than the 880. I don't think that the One's design is substantially better, but for something I'm going to be looking at everyday, I gave the edge to the One. After that, it was mostly small stuff. I liked the cradle better for the One, as it's recessed and designed to hold the remote better than the cradle which comes with the 880.

Since getting the remote, I can verify that it's totally awesome. I spent a good amount of time yesterday playing around with it, and it's totally cool. I downloaded some channel icons, and set up the remote to switch to those channels with a touch of the touch screen. It's awesome. On top of that, like all Harmony remotes, the thing controls everything.

I've seen some criticism of the Harmony line, saying that the batteries don't last long enough. With the One, it fits well into the recharging cradle, and the battery is removable, and thus replaceable (because someday it's going to stop working). I don't see the battery complaints being valid. I was happy with the battery life; if you're having trouble with the battery dying, put it back on the charger. I had mine off the charger and in use for a good portion of the day yesterday, and it fared just fine.

From my use so far (which isn't yet enough for a comprehensive review) my only two complaints are that the remote attracts fingerprints very easily (but the remote comes with a microfiber cloth to clean it with) and it's having some trouble powering on my Xbox 360 during the "Play Xbox 360" activity cycle. I think I have the Xbox problem figured out, I just need to get it resolved. The other problem I have with it isn't so much a problem with the remote itself as it is with Sony and the Home Theater market. I can't control my PS3 with the Harmony. The PS3 uses Bluetooth for its controllers and remotes, and there are no universal remotes out there which integrate Bluetooth, since there just isn't a reason to do so, other than the PS3 (which isn't a big enough reason). There is technically a workaround, but I haven't used it as I'm not convinced that it gives me the same functionality that the Sony Bluetooth remote does. So I keep the Sony Bluetooth remote next to the Harmony, and when I decide to watch Blu-Rays on the PS3, I just use that Sony remote for PS3 functions.

After I've racked up some more time with the remote, I'll post a review, but so far things are looking good. If you're in the market for a Harmony remote, Amazon has a very good sale going on right now on many of them, including the Harmony One.

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