Editors' note: The Logitech Harmony 600 has been discontinued, and is See CNET's Which Logitech universal remote is right for you? for updated comparisons and recommendations.
Logitech's line of Harmony universal remotes includes more models at more affordable price points than ever before. For 2010, the lineup includes the $50 Harmony 300 and the $100 Harmony 650. Directly between those two models is the $80 Harmony 600, reviewed here.
At first glance, the Harmony 600 is a near duplicate of its slightly more expensive big brother. The overall design and button layout is effectively identical to that of the Harmony 650 (and, indeed, the $150 Harmony 700). But the Harmony 600 is silver instead of gray, and it offers a simple text-based LCD screen instead of the 650's more colorful version. Both the 600 and the 650 can control a total of five devices, and--like all Harmony remotes--these models are programmable via a Mac or Windows PC, and use activity-based commands such "Watch TV" or "Listen to Music" to control a home AV system.
The remote is roughly segmented into three main areas. The top section is dominated by the aforementioned black-and-white LCD screen; it's a square 1-inch-by-1-inch display. It's not a touch screen--you'll need to spend at least twice as much to upgrade to a Harmony One for that--but there are five buttons (two on each side, one on the bottom) for choosing contextual items on the screen. You can also page through additional screens, multiplying the available choices. The middle section has a five-way directional pad, channel and volume controls, and some standard DVR keys (Menu, Guide, Info, Exit). On the bottom third of the remote, you'll find standard video transport controls (play, pause, rewind, etc.) and a 12-digit keypad.
The setup process is identical to that of previous Logitech Harmony remotes. You connect the 600 to your Internet-connected Windows PC or Mac with the supplied USB cable, install the model-specific version of Harmony software (downloaded from Logitech's Web site), and answer a fairly simple online questionnaire. You simply choose your home-theater components from a list, explain how they're connected, and define their roles in activity-based functions, such as "Watch TV," "Watch DVD," and "Listen to music." For each function, you specify which devices and inputs the remote must enable. You can also choose which keypad functions will "punch through" to which specific devices--always having the channel buttons control the cable box or the volume controls dedicated to the TV, for instance. After you've completed the questionnaire, the software uploads all the relevant control codes to the Harmony 600.
The software will automatically map obvious function to the default keys--"pause" to "pause," "2" to "2," and so on--but you can customize and change anything you'd like. You can also map specific functions to the colored buttons on the remote, as well as the contextual areas on the LCD screen. The LCD can also be used for channel favorites, but--unlike the step-up Harmony 650--you can't include custom icons and logos, only text.