Logitech Harmony 1100i
Logitech’s Harmony 1100i looks like a tiny tablet device. In a way, that’s not far from the truth. You can’t play Angry Birds on it, but you can control just about anything in your house with an infrared receiver.
Harley Ogier | Monday, August 01 2011
Product type: Universal remote
RRP incl GST: $700
- Activity-based remote control
- 3.5-inch colour touchscreen
- Docking station recharges battery
- Pricier than some televisions
A flashy way to control your home theatre, but suffers from the same downsides of every activity-based universal remote.
Logitech’s Harmony 1100i looks like a tiny tablet device with its 3.5-inch full colour touchscreen, few physical buttons and rectangular form factor. In a way, that’s not far from the truth. You can’t play Angry Birds on it, but you can control just about anything in your house with an infrared receiver.
The Harmony 1100i ships with a docking station to recharge the remote, which is just as well given the huge colour touchscreen. Like the 1100i’s appearance, its battery life is more in line with a tablet device than a traditional remote. Keep it in its station when not in use.
Apart from its unique form factor and touchscreen, the 1100i works exactly the same as any of the recent Logitech Harmony remotes, including the far less expensive ($100 RRP) Harmony 600 I use at home.
To set it up, install the software that ships with the remote. Grab it from the web, rather than using the provided DVD.
Then sign up for a mandatory Logitech account (used to store your remote settings online). If that doesn’t put you off, you then enter the make and model of all the devices you want to control. Once you’ve done this, the software will take you through all the scenarios it can envisage based on the devices you’ve selected: watch a DVD, watch TV, play a game, et cetera.
The software asks you simple questions to determine how everything is going to work. Do you want to control the volume through your TV or hi-fi system when watching a movie? What input does your Playstation use? That sort of thing – if you can operate your setup as it stands, you can go through the Harmony setup process without any trouble.
When you’re done, the settings are downloaded to the remote, and you’re set to go. Then, in theory, you just point the remote in the vague direction of your entertainment system and press ‘Watch TV’.
The problem with the Harmony 1100i, and in fact any activity-based universal remote, is that devices don’t send any feedback to the remote. The remote has no way of knowing, for instance, that your TV is already on when you press the ‘Watch TV’ button. So it turns on your Freeview decoder, your sound system, sends the ‘power button’ signal to your TV… which, already being on, promptly turns off.
Unless all your equipment starts in a predictable state (e.g. all off) each time you begin an activity, this is always going to be a problem – no matter how much you spend on a universal remote.
I have this problem with my Harmony 600, and had the exact same problem with the 1100i. In fact, that’s not the only similarity.The form factor is markedly different, but the setup software, user interface and operation of the Harmony range are all exactly the same.
Using the 1100i felt just like using my Harmony 600, without the comfort and familiarity of a normal remote control. Adding a touchscreen and colour graphics to something don’t automatically make it more ‘user friendly’ – they just make it more blingy.
The only real advantage is that the Harmony 1100i can control up to 15 devices, whereas the other models in the series, mine included, can only control up to 5. That’s it. More bling, more devices.
If you want a universal remote that shows off your socio-economic status, the Harmony 1100i is a great bet. If you actually want to watch TV and DVDs easily, a Harmony remote is a good investment – but choose one that doesn’t cost as much as a basic LCD TV.
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