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Harmony Advanced Universal Remote for Xbox 360
Score: 88%
Developer: Logitech
Device Type: Controller


The aim of Logitech's Harmony line of remotes is to take all of the shuffling and button pressing required when you have multiple components on your entertainment center and condense them into an easy, one button push solution. In other words, its designed to be the last remote you'll ever need; a job that it does so well that it even manages to trump Microsoft's own Universal remote.


Aesthetically, the Harmony Remote for Xbox 360 blends right in with the Xbox 360 system. The white casing and chrome accents match the system perfectly and are topped off by a nice "Xbox Green" glow and the four controller face buttons. The remote features a long, sleek body that puts all the weight on the bottom end that, along with the two form-friendly finger grips, places the remote in a nice comfortable position with your thumb in easy reach of primary function keys like channel select and volume control.

However, the remote is meant to do more than just be nice to look at; it is also meant to serve as the only remote you'll ever need. Placed at the top of the remote is a small LCD screen that will scroll up various functions based on what you're wanting to control. For example, if the device button is switched to DVD, the screen will scroll up all the different DVD commands found in that device's remote, such as adjusting the aspect ratio or ejecting the disc.

I was actually surprised by the number of devices the remote could be used for. The remote comes with Xbox 360 functionality built-in, which allows you to control all of the 360's various functions, including your media center, with one device. What really surprised me was that I was even able to find functions for every device in my setup including the PS2 and my receiver -- two devices that have given me headaches when trying to find a remote that works with them both.

In addition to controlling nearly every device on your entertainment center, the Harmony remote can also be programmed to handle multiple functions through the use of macros. If you want to play Xbox 360 all you have to do is hit the button next to the "Play Xbox 360" macro on the LCD screen and the remote will not only turn on the TV, receiver and 360, but also set the receiver and TV to their proper settings. Turning everything off is just as easy and takes just one press of the power switch.

The concept of programming macros onto a remote isn't all that groundbreaking. Yet, at the same time, no one has even managed to make the process quite as easy as Logitech has with the Harmony. When you first open the package, things look quite daunting ? especially when you see the USB cable and Setup CD. Once you look past the added stuff, the remote is amazingly easy to set up. After installing the remote's hardware and updating its drivers (yes, the remote has drivers), it will take you through a step-by-step process that will ask you a few simple questions about your remote-using habits and how you like things to be set up. The software will even ask you about your electronics skill level in order to adapt the setup instructions to something that is easy to understand.

  • Simple, One-Touch Activity Control
  • Built for the Xbox 360
  • Controls All A/V Brands: Past, Present and Future
  • Easy Set-Up
  • Includes USB Cable
  • Includes Installation CD and Guides
  • 4 x "AAA" Batteries - Included
  • Includes Y, X, A, and B Buttons and Media Center Controls
  • Control of Up to 12 Devices
  • Currently Supports 2,500 Manufacturers and 80,000 Devices

Drawbacks & Problems::

The $129 price tag is obviously the biggest of the Harmony?s drawbacks. Even with the $30 mail-in rebate, the Harmony remote is still a pricey addition to your home theater setup. But, given all the remote's functions, it is really hard to argue against it, at least if you're a serious A/V junkie. If your basic needs don't extend past needing to turn on the TV and 360, then the Harmony is simply too much for your needs.

Aside for the price, I ran across a few minor problems with the Harmony, though none were big enough that I didn?t keep using it. The most persistent of these problems was that I had to go through the setup with my PS2 more than once in order to get the settings to work just right. Even though I programmed it to switch to the player's output channel, the remote insisted on switching to another output when I turned everything on. In the end, all this really had me doing was pressing one additional button, which really wasn't that big a deal, especially considering what playing a PS2 game used to require.

I also hit a few snags when trying to adjust certain aspects using the LCD screen. The writing on the screen is big and easy to read, but at the same time, it does require some deciphering when you're trying to tell the difference between certain functions. I also discovered that some of my receiver's functions weren't on the remote, such as the option of switching to certain sound settings.

Changing channels using the number keys also provided a few problem that I?m still trying to work out. When trying to change to a double (or triple) digit channel using the number keys, the first number would go in, but the second one wouldn't ? sometimes causing the channel to switch from one single-digit channel to another instead of the double-digit one. In other words, when trying to go to channel "25", it would go to "2" then switch to "5". This wouldn't happen all of the time, but enough that it became noticeable. I have discovered that the problem seems to vary with TV, so it could just as well be something with my TV rather than the remote.

The Harmony for Xbox 360 is designed with what Microsoft would label the "HD Era" gamer; the guy who has the big screen HDTV hooked into a surround sound system that's all tied wirelessly into his Media Center PC over this wireless network. So, if you need a remote to just turn on the TV and 360, the Harmony is probably a little too much and probably wouldn't be worth the price tag. However, if you think you fit the above description, the Harmony is probably what you've been looking for.

-Starscream, GameVortex Communications
AKA Ricky Tucker

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Game Vortex :: PSIllustrated