Logitech has quietly begun shipping its latest universal remote control, the Harmony 720. Currently available exclusively at Costco for $180, the 720 is the North American version of the Harmony 785, a European model that Logitech announced at the CeBIT show in March.
The Harmony 720 is a step up from the recent entry-level, , and models. The new remote shares the same basic flat design as those models (as opposed to the peanut shape of earlier Harmonys, such as the and ) but with a new button layout and a more upscale look. Notably, the 720 includes some key features missing on the cheaper models: a color LCD screen and a rechargeable battery with charging cradle. Like all Harmony models, the 720 utilizes activity-based controls (Watch TV, Watch DVD, Listen to Music) and needs to be connected to Windows or Mac via the included USB cable to program via Web-based wizards.
We'll have a full review of the 720 soon, but it looks to be a formidable competitor to the 880 model. In fact, the two are so well matched--on paper, at least--that, because the older 880 is widely available for well below its $249 list price, the choice may come down to aesthetic and ergonomic preferences of the user. It's also worth noting that the, which is really just a Logitech Harmony sold under the HK name, is also available for less than $200. Like the 720, the TC30 features a color screen and a rechargeable battery/cradle.
We're unabashed fans of the Harmony remotes, so more affordable models and varied design choices are always welcome. But they're far from the only game in town. Forthcoming universal remotes such as the Acoustic Research Wi-Q line and the OpenPeak SimpleRemote--not to mention the already available --are skipping the need for PC-guided setup and instead connecting directly to Wi-Fi home networks, enabling such features as media streaming, real-time news and weather reports, and program guide updates. Likewise, Universal Remote Control continues to crank out some great remotes, whether you're looking for a basic model or need some serious high-end power. We'll continue to keep tabs on all your best options in our universal remote roundup.