So I decided to finally do something about the clutter. But where does one start? Organization? You bet! I sat down and created a short-list of what features were important for me to get based on my previous experiences with poorly-designed universal remote controls. The "must have" features I came up with are:
- Learning mode for atypical control codes (use the existing remote to train the new remote)
- Long battery life (possibly rechargeable)
- User friendly and intuitive (MUST have an ultra-high spousal-approval factor [aka SAF])
- Small, preferably controllable from one hand
- Does not forget its programming when quickly changing batteries
- Capable of controlling both IR and RF gear
- Easy to program
- Easy to access repetitive functions
- Does not require any device to be network connected
- Best bang for the buck (read under $300, preferably under $100)
The problem with remote controls is that there is no standard. Unlike HDMI, USB, and other interconnects, remote controls use a variety of digital command sequences based on a slurry of methods prepared by a variety of engineers from a plethora of manufacturers, none of which are involved directly in the industry to which the remote is used. For example, one manufacturer creates a remote control device that is used on a toy car and this same electronic device is used on a television or personal media streamer without conflict by just tweaking a design parameter. Convenient for equipment designers, yes, for consumers, not so much.
And there seems to be no relief in sight...or is there. Logitech, a company who first entered the consumer market with its computer mice, has grown its product family in many ways, each with its successes and failures. But this market seems to need someone to take the reigns and get a hold of simplifying complicated issues and they have done a decent job. After evaluating the higher-end offerings, I decided to spring for their more budget-based product, the Harmony 650 available for well under $100.
On the rare occasion that is does remember to turn everything on properly, accessing a device to perform another function (like changing the source of the OPPO) forgets the mapping to the volume control on the preamp (duh!). So going back-and-forth between devices becomes essential but again for a remote of this level it should not be unnecessary.
So, the bottom line is this: the Logitech 650 has the right idea but the sample I received did not work as advertised. For this reason, I am going to give these folks the benefit of a doubt that for some unknown reason I received a lemon (lemons happen). However, for this same reason I cannot give this remote a glowing review.
Until Logitech steps up to the higher-quality-control plate, I would look elsewhere for an under $100 universal remote control.
Yours for higher fidelity,
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Copyright © 2015 by Philip Rastocny. All rights reserved.