Logitech Harmony 600 review:

Logitech Harmony 600

As easy as the remote generally is to use, some users may encounter a few snags when initially setting up their remotes. Often, this will be because of the hardware limitations of older AV equipment. We've had problems in the past with TVs or AV receivers that don't offer discrete input commands, as well as gear with old HDMI connectors that don't easily "refresh" the video connection when switching inputs. Still, we were able to get the 600 to ably control a living room system with a plasma TV, an AV receiver, an HD DVR, an Xbox 360, and a Sony PS3. (Because that last product doesn't include an IR receiver, you'll need to invest in the Logitech Harmony Adapter for PlayStation 3; it works perfectly, but costs almost as much as the Harmony 600 itself.) Those with larger systems should take note, however: that represents the Harmony 600's (and Harmony 650's) maximum of five devices. Anyone with additional gear should opt for the Harmony 700 (six devices), or make the leap to the Harmony One (15 devices).

As we said in our earlier reviews of Harmony remotes, if you have a complicated system, you can expect to spend some time fine-tuning the remote to get it to work just right. A certain amount of trial and error is involved. You must verify that the commands work with your equipment as intended, then modify them as necessary. The Web site provides advanced, macro-style options for delay times, multistep commands, and other functions. Also, the remote's Help key helps in troubleshooting by asking natural-language questions on the LCD. For instance, the screen might read, "Is the digital set-top box on?"

That said, the "classic" Harmony software now feels outdated after you've used the "My Harmony" software that comes with the entry-level Harmony 300 model. That one streamlines the process even further, and adds an interface for drag-and-drop button programming. We hope that Logitech eventually adopts the "My Harmony" software for the rest of its remote line, including the Harmony 600 reviewed here. On the positive side, expert users will be happy to hear that the Harmony 600 (unlike the luxury 900 and 1100 models) does support the programming of custom "sequences," or multidevice macros of up to five steps.

Though there's still no way to manage multiple Harmony remotes on the same account (you're required to create separate user accounts, with separate names and passwords, for each of them), Logitech has made it very easy to swap in a new Harmony remote for an old one and transfer in that remote's system setup. For example, if you already had an older Harmony that you use with your main living room system, you could quickly swap in the Harmony 600, and then set up a separate profile for the old Harmony, which you could then use in another room.

In the final analysis, the Logitech Harmony 600 is a superb universal remote that's being sold at a very competitive sub-$80 price. If you need to control only five devices or fewer, and you don't need a color LCD screen, it's an easy recommendation. That said, just be sure to check the price of the Harmony 650 or Harmony 700 first; if you can afford the extra $20 or $30 to upgrade, it's worth it.

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