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Logitech goes for broke with $50 Harmony remote

At just $50, the Harmony 300 will be the most inexpensive Logitech universal remote to date.

Logitech Harmony 300
The Harmony 300 is Logitech's most affordable universal remote to date.

Just four weeks ago, Logitech unveiled two new entry-level models in its popular universal remote line, the $80 Harmony 600 and the $100 Harmony 650. Apparently, though, those models just weren't cheap enough for Logitech. The company has now taken the wraps off the Harmony 300, which will retail for just $50--making it the most affordable Logitech remote to date.

To hit that ultra-affordable price point, of course, there had to be some compromises. The 300 controls only four products, it lacks the LCD screen found on the step-up 600 and 650 models, and most of the buttons aren't backlit. It also has only a stripped-down version of the activity-based control functionality that Harmony models are known for--there's just a "Watch TV" button to fire up your TV and cable/satellite box, and switch the TV to its proper input.

Otherwise, the general design of the Harmony 300 is very similar to that of the 600, 650, and 700. Device buttons and channel shortcut keys fill the space at the top of the remote where the LCD screen would otherwise be. DVR-friendly "list" and "live" keys are also included.

Logitech Harmony 300 setup screen
Logitech/screenshot by John P. Falcone

The Harmony 300 includes an updated version of the Web-based programming found on its brethren. Logitech has streamlined the setup process (which works on Macs and Windows PCs): just type in your product model names, click the "sync" button, and the proper codes are uploaded to the remote via the included USB cable. You can return further customize the remote using a drag and drop template for each device. We ran through the process, and think nontechies will find it even more approachable than the software on other Harmony remotes.

When the product ships in April, there will actually be two slightly different versions: the Harmony 300 (matte black) will be sold through Best Buy, Amazon, and Logitech's own Web site; the Harmony 300i (glossy black) will be sold through Target, Wal-Mart, and other retailers.

I'll follow up soon with a more in-depth review of the Harmony 300, but my first impression is that it'd be well-suited to a bedroom or den with a simple AV system (TV, DVR/cable box, DVD player, and/or game console).