Talk about "attack of the clones." Months before Logitech brought out the Harmony 720, a color-screen remote based on the new, slim chassis that the company was using for its 2006 monochrome-screen models, Harman Kardon was serving up a very similar color-screen remote that was also powered by Harmony software. To make matters even trickier, both remotes cost about the same--slightly less than $200--despite the fact that the TC 30 carries a higher list price of $300.
Essentially, the Harman Kardon TC 30 has the look and feel of an elongated Logitech Harmony 550 paired with the better features (color screen, rechargeable battery) of the Harmony 720. The TC 30 is about half an inch taller than the 720, measuring 8.5 inches long by 2.1 inches wide and less than an inch thick. On a more tangible level, that extra space translates into an extra set of two contextual icons on the remote's color display. The Harmony 720 has six contextual icons, corresponding to adjacent hard buttons, while the TC 30 has a total of eight. That's a nice plus in favor of the Harman Kardon, but it's worth mentioning that even with all that extra length, the TC 30, like the 720, doesn't have the Harmony 550's extra row of four buttons--directly below the numeric keypad--that can be mapped to corresponding functions (sound, picture) or specialized keys that relate to your cable or satellite box. (For instance, DVRs such as those from Scientific Atlanta often require confirmation keystrokes for playback and recording.) The TC 30 also shares one of the few features we didn't like about the latest Harmony models: the 12-digit numeric keypad buttons are a just a bit too tiny for adult fingers.
A further examination of the TC 30's face reveals a few other points of differentiation. For example, on the Harman Kardon, the video-transport buttons are placed higher on the remote; we prefer their lower placement on the Harmony 720, but this is a relatively minor quibble. The Harmon Kardon also has a Glow button that toggles the screen's backlight on and off. This button is missing on the 720, but that isn't a big deal because, with both models, the backlight turns on when you pick up the remote and automatically turns off after a few seconds when you set it down or stop pressing any buttons. The Glow button does give you a little bit finer degree of control over the backlight, but that doesn't constitute a major selling point.
Like Logitech's color-screen Harmony models (the 720, the 880 and the 890), the TC 30 includes a docking station for juicing up the included rechargeable lithium-ion battery; you simply place the remote in its cradle. Not only is it nice to have a recharging option to save dough on batteries, but if you're good about leaving the remote in its cradle, you'll always know where it is when you need it. If we had complaint, it's that we wish the remote would lock into the cradle a little more securely. As it stands, the remote looks attractive sitting in the cradle (the dock and remote mesh well together and keep a low profile), but if you jostle the dock--beware of the curious child--the remote ends up dislodging from its charging connectors a little too easily and thus fails to recharge.
As noted, this model features a motion sensor, so that when you pick up the remote, it automatically turns on. You can also easily add your own digital images as backgrounds and screensavers--there's a slide-show feature--though we found that we had to crop our images into vertical shots or they'd appear hideously stretched on the screen. And it really isn't a good idea to have a picture as a background because it makes the icons difficult to read; you're better off sticking with the default blue background.
In terms of programming the remote, the TC 30 works the same way that other Harmony remotes do, with one significant difference: you can use only Harman Kardon's "skinned" version of the Harmony desktop software, which works with Windows and Mac machines--but not Logitech's Web-based application. When we tried to log into Logitech's Web-based app with our Harman Kardon user name and password, we were redirected to a special Harman Kardon Web site.