The Logitech Harmony 1100i is a capable 3.5-inch touchscreen universal remote that isn't very complicated to use. It has a design that separates it from the rest of the remotes. While not everyone may be comfortable with it, the touchscreen bit is fun to use. However, the price is a bit too steep, and the consumer demographic will be limited to those who have a high-end home theater setup, and/or want an equally snazzy remote to complement it.
In most homes, a universal remote makes a lot of sense. The coffee table, or the side table in the bedroom is usually cluttered with lots of remotes. Replacing all with one remote is ideal. But, the question still remains - is it a utility or a luxury? In the case of the Logitech Harmony 1100i, I am strongly leaning on the side of luxury.
Look & Feel
This is a universal remote that bucks the trend when it comes to the design. The square design houses a 3.5-inch touchscreen (320x240 pixel resolution) display, that allows a whole lot of traditional buttons to be done away with. The touchscreen is the resistive type, by the way. Next to it is a bunch of hardware buttons - volume, channel, mute, navigation, select and return. Quite welcome, since using the touchscreen to control the most critical tasks like changing channels of controlling the volume would have been a pain. However, you will have to use the display to select the activity, and any advanced tasks/ features that may be applicable to any individual device that you may have configured. Since there is limited space on the screen, you are talking about 3-4 layers on an average, and can even go up to 7 screens like it did for our LED TV. Going forwards and backwards on them is a bit of an exercise, and by the end of it, you do tend to lose your way a little bit. In such a scenario, calmly work your way across, and not press the Activities button by mistake.
On the sides of the display are tactile guides that attempt to guide you as to where the keys are on the display. But we don’t really see any purpose of that, since we are dealing with a touchscreen here. No amount of guidance will help, you will have to look at the display when using it.
The wow factor is the most loaded thing about the Logitech Harmony 1100i Advanced Universal Remote. The square design is finished with the glossy black colour on the front and a rubberized finish at the back. This is the biggest difference when compared its predecessor, the Harmony 1000, which had a silver body and had blue backlighting for the buttons instead of white. A part of the rear panel slides out completely, allowing access to the battery bay. This remote uses a rechargeable lithium-ion battery. There is the neat charging dock that the 1100 can recline on to, and takes about 2 hours to fully charge a completely drained battery.
While this form factor will grab attention siting on the coffee table in the living room, it is certain that using the Logitech Harmony 1100i Advanced Universal Remote will be very different from the usual conventional remotes. And will take some getting used to.
Features & Performance
Setting it up can be a bit tricky, particularly if you have a lot of gadgets on the menu. You need to install the Logitech Harmony Remote Software, which is available for both PC and Mac. This remote cannot be configured online on myharmony.com, which is surprising. The predecessor wasn’t supported for online configuration, but with a wider range of remotes now compatible, we believe this top of the line model in the series deserves that goodness as well. Coming back to desktop software based method - once the software is installed, plug in the remote. It is critical that you keep the names and model numbers of the gadgets that you will configure. With over 250000 gadgets compatible with the remote, Logitech have listed the manufacturers across multiple device categories. However, you will need the model number to proceed beyond that. For the purpose of testing, we configured a Samsung LED TV, Denon AV receiver, Tata Sky HD and WD TV Live HD media player. Incidentally, there is no separate category for the ever growing in popularity HD media players, but they can be found in the Media Centre PC category.
The configuration took about 10 minutes, and the devices were set up in two categories - Watch TV and Watch Movies. The difference being (and this can be modded in the setup as per your need) that Tata Sky HD would turn off when shifting to Watch Movies and WD Live would do the similar thing when you switch to Watch TV. There are a whole host of other activities as well - listen to radio, listen to music, watch DVD etc., which can all be programmed individually with the components registered. When you select any activity, Harmony remembers, from the time you configured the options, to switch on and switch off the gadgets accordingly. For example, for Watch TV, we had the TV, the AV Receiver and the Tata Sky HD box running, while WD Live was off. For Watch Movies, we had the Tata Sky HD box off and the WD Live powered on.
If you have the habit of leaving all the home theater gadgets on standby, this remote will perform seamlessly. If however, you have the habit of turning things off, you will realize that the likes of the WD Live media player and Tata Sky HD would start straightaway at full power, and not on standby mode. While it isn't the fault of the universal remote, this tends to confuse the Harmony more often than not, when switching activities. A device that is supposed to remain off turns on, and vice versa. Using the Assistant feature solves the problem, but manually. Since I personally use a Harmony 650 remote at home, I had noted that the 650 realized this problem after a few times and automatically fixed it for subsequent use. On the other hand, the assistant on the Harmony 1100i didn’t do any automatic configuration of that sort, even after a week of use. And we had assumed that the feature set on a considerably more expensive remote would be more intelligent than the one that is a basic model.
With sensors on two sides, you can be sure that this remote will make the gadgets respond to your command, no matter what the angle. No need to point directly at the device that you need to control. From a distance of about 3-4 feet, and not even straight line, the Harmony 1100 did well to get the gadgets to respond.
However, let us make one thing absolutely clear - you will have to take your eyes off the TV screen to use this remote, particularly if the touchscreen is to be brought into action. Not many people will be comfortable with this idea, or with the scenario of a touchscreen display’s lights ruining the movie mood! Make sure you are comfortable with both, before splashing the cash. After all, it is a lot of cash!
Most Logitech Harmony remotes have the motion sensor, and this one is no different. Pick up the remote, and it automatically switches itself on, expecting a command. Leave it unattended for 1 minute, and it goes into sleep mode again.
Surprisingly, there is no RF module being bundled with the Harmony 1100i, which considering the price is a huge letdown. Incidentally, the same module is bundled with the slightly lower priced Harmony 900 remote. Had that been there, this remote would have worked well even when devices weren’t in the line of sight. As of now, you will need to manage without that somehow.
The fact that the Harmony 110i Advanced is powered with a rechargeable lithium-ion battery, negating the need to run to find a pair of AAA batteries! However, thanks to the big-ish touchscreen display, battery life does take a hit. You will need to charge this baby about twice a week, with the usage limited to 3 hours a day. Turning off notification beeps will help quite a bit, since a beep at every selection drains the battery considerably.
This one costs a lot of money, to say the least. And we would have appreciated the RF module being included as a part of the package. Buy this if you really need to have a remote that looks brilliant, and don’t really care how much it costs. Having said that, we must appreciate what the Harmony 1100i brings to the table - wide compatibility with gadgets, easy to set up, a form factor that I comfortable to use and a charging dock that can be used for safely storing the 1100i when not in use. The touchscreen interface takes some getting used to, but once you do, the usage speed will improve quite a bit. Mostly, someone with an expensive home theater setup at home will buy this remote, to perfectly complement it. We believe that control speed does slow down a bit with the touchscreen interface, something that is much faster on the traditional universal remote design with physical buttons.
Price: Rs. 27,995
Contact: Logitech Harmony Support
Phone: 000 800 600 1133