Victim of the smartphone syndrome
Its giant screen (for a remote) gets more than a few pulses racing. However, once you turn it on, it's cold showers all round. Our eyes, used to smartphones and the fineness of their displays, get the complete opposite here.
Resolution is awful (probably 320 x 240 pixels, perhaps worse) and gives a horribly pixelated, charicatured, faded image with particularly narrow viewing angles. It's really disappointing and is even frustrating when you're moving different folders around on the resistive screen.
At a time when capacitive screens (like the HTC Desire or iPhone 4) where a simple stroke is registered by the technology, are all the rage, the Harmony 1100 gives you quite the opposite: you need to press hard, preferably with the end of your nail, if you want to get to the areas near the side of the screen.
Nevertheless, the screen isn't all bad. For example, we liked the possibility of being able to rename the different buttons or change the icons and the order. This is practical for displaying logos of TV channels. You can set up up to 6 shortcuts per page.
While you do most of your browsing via the touch screen, there are also some physical buttons: the directional arrows, the validation key, the volume and channel surfing (+/-). The buttons are good quality but not backlit.
The remote can be charged up using a USB cable connecting it to a computer or a recharging socket. A movement sensor also means you can set it up so that the screen and backlighting comes on when you pick it up. Very practical!
Radio frequencies: yes but on option and not in the way you might think!
The Harmony 1100 remote is supposedly RF compatible. In fact, this feature doesn't allow you to pilot devices using radio waves but rather infra red (IR) ones. The idea is to be able to control equipment that's behind a piece of furniture or in another room.
Explanation: for an extra 80 quid, you can acquire a small RF box, the RF Wireless Extender. This then communicates with your remote via radio waves and sends an infra-red signal to your devices. A costly feature, which can be practical in some cases.
Simple or advanced settings
To set up the remote, you need to use a computer (Windows or MacOS). The basic settings require you to run through a series of questions: you select your hardware from an enormous database - all our devices were listed, even our media centre - , then define various "activities" (see inset).
You can then adjust these settings. For example, if your hardware is unknown, you can opt for a manual set-up. Another solution: set button delays and sensitivity. This is a veritable advantage over the competition as it allows you to control very sensitive devices effectively.
- Set up: automatic (large database) or manual
- Option to set button sensitivity and delay
- Original concept of macros/ "activities"
- Large screen
- Poor quality screen
- Resistive screen
- Configuration software isn't easy to understand
On its release, this remote was out of the ordinary. Now, its screen suffers in comparison with smartphones: resistive, not bright enough and with reduced viewing angles - it doesn't feel as if it should cost this much!