We're normally a bit critical of busy remote controls, simply because extra buttons usually mean a much tougher learning curve, along with the distinct possibility that you've got a remote with buttons that you'll never conceivably use. We'll give Logitech's Harmony 700 something of a pass in this regard, simply because as a universal remote, there's a few more buttons on it that you might actually want.
The latest in Logitech's long-running Harmony remote series looks very similar to existing models. A small 1-inch LCD screen sits at the top, but unlike models such as the, this isn't a touchscreen, it's just a display for showing two TV-centric activities at a time. Above the screen are dedicated buttons for the kinds of activities Logitech presumes most TV fanatics will want to engage in — Watching TV, Movies, Listening to Music and a button labelled "More Activities" that acts in much the same way as the "Activities" button on previous Harmony remotes have done.
We've always rated Logitech's button-based Harmony remotes well at CNET. The same isn't entirely true of the company's entirely touchscreen-based models such as the, which have always hit a difficult price and usability point. Still, the engine that makes the entire Harmony range sing is still very much present in the Harmony 700, and that's the simple web-based interface for setting up the remote itself. The Harmony database claims it knows the IR codes for around 225,000 devices, and it's possible to add more if you've got the original remote for a model it doesn't know to hand.
The Harmony remote software may be the same, but it's tough to look at the Harmony 700 itself and not view it as the rather stupid cousin of existing older Harmony models. It's only capable of controlling a total of six devices, compared to 15 for older models such as the Harmony One or Harmony 785. Obviously home A/V set-ups vary and six may be more than you personally need, but it's a pretty hard limit, and we're not even sure why it's a limit in the first place.
Unlike other Harmony remotes we've looked at in the past, Logitech's opted to go for rechargeable AA batteries for the Harmony 700, rather than Lithium-ion. This has some usefulness if the batteries are flat — you can always chuck in another set — but it also means that the charging is purely from a microUSB cable rather than a handy charging dock.