Unlike many remote controls, especially universal ones, Logitech's latest remote, the Harmony One requires little brainpower to use - once you become accustomed to the touchscreen and are past the setup process.

The Logitech Harmony One, like the Logitech Harmony 880 it replaces, fits comfortably in the hand and has a charging cradle. Its bright, 2.2in colour touchscreen has innovative navigation controls around its edges that make it easy to move up, down, and around the various options.

The Logitech Harmony One's navigation controls are a huge advance from the 880's screen-side buttons. So is the new push-button area below; the new buttons have distinct sizes, shapes, and placement, making the remote easy to use by feel alone (it is also backlit).

The Logitech Harmony One's touchscreen shows commands and icons for common activities that initiate macros; touching 'Listen to Music' can turn on your stereo and media centre extender, for example.

Once you've started an activity, such as 'Watch TV', you can touch further selections such as 'Favourite Channels', then use the Logitech Harmony One's standard push-button controls for changing volume or pausing playback as you would on any TV remote. It all works together intuitively.

While using the Logitech Harmony One was a joy, setting it up was not as much fun. You start the process on your PC or Mac by plugging the remote into your USB port and connecting to Logitech's online database of more than 225,000 devices.

I threw every home-theater device I had at the Logitech Harmony One: a Sony HDTV, a Sony DVD disc changer, two satellite TiVo DVRs, a Linksys Media Center Extender, an Apple TV and even an old Sony VCR. The database had information for the Sony devices and the Apple TV, but the Linksys DMA-2200 extender was too new and I had to set up the two TiVos manually because they had different channel arrangements.

The remote has a Help button to aid in diagnosing and fixing setup issues, but after going back and forth with the Logitech Harmony One's Setup Wizard, I decided to contact Logitech's tech support. I should have done that right off the bat.

Its reps can interactively solve the thorniest problems - they have direct access to your device list in their online database. They can make changes to your devices and activities, which you can then sync to the remote and test in real time. They added the new Linksys commands to the Logitech Harmony One's database for me, and explained how to handle the two TiVos.

Logitech Harmony One universal remote control: Specs

  • Windows 2000/XP/Vista or Mac OS X 10.3 or later
  • USB port
  • CD-ROM drive
  • internet access
  • package includes: charging station, lithium-ion battery, USB cable, AC adaptor, installation CD and guide
  • two-year limited hardware warranty
  • Windows 2000/XP/Vista or Mac OS X 10.3 or later
  • USB port
  • CD-ROM drive
  • internet access
  • package includes: charging station, lithium-ion battery, USB cable, AC adaptor, installation CD and guide
  • two-year limited hardware warranty

OUR VERDICT

The holy grail of truly universal remotes is still elusive, but the Logitech Harmony One is your best option right now.

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