Logitech Harmony Advanced Universal Remote for Xbox 360 review: Logitech Harmony Advanced Universal Remote for Xbox 360

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MSRP: $99.99

The Good Better shape than previous Harmony remotes; strong backlight; choice between device or activity usage; intuitive, Web-based programming.

The Bad No rechargeable battery option; numeric keypad buttons are too small and grouped too closely together; Web interface might intimidate nontechie users.

The Bottom Line A sleek design, an impressive feature set, and a manageable price tag make the Logitech Harmony Advanced Universal Remote an excellent choice for Xbox 360 owners.

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7.7 Overall
  • Design 9
  • Features 8
  • Performance 6

The idea behind the Logitech Harmony Advanced Universal Remote for Xbox 360 (LHAURX360) is a bit contradictory. It's a device that's designed to operate almost every electronic product that can receive an infrared signal, yet it's built with one particular component in mind: Microsoft's Xbox 360. At $130, it falls squarely between its two nearly identical sibling models, the $150 Logitech Harmony 550 and the $100 Logitech Harmony 520. However, the LHAURX360 has a few extra Xbox 360-flavored buttons that will come in handy for accessing the media functions of the game console--or for whatever other function you see fit to program them.

The Logitech Harmony Advanced Universal Remote for Xbox 360 is certainly one of the sleekest universal remotes around. It measures 8.25 inches long, 2 inches wide, and 0.75 inch at its deepest. It has a slim and straight design, which we prefer to the "skinny in the middle, fat on the ends" shape that most of the other Harmony remotes have adopted. The LHAURX360's white, silver, and green motif may match the 360 but will likely stand out on a coffee table or next to a black TV set, too.

The Logitech Harmony for Xbox 360 crams an astounding amount of buttons onto its modest frame, including a complete numeric keypad, full playback transport controls, a four-way directional pad, and four Xbox 360-specific buttons (see below). For the most part, the button layout is pleasure to use, but we lamented the somewhat mushy rubber buttons and felt those on the numeric keypad were a bit too tiny and grouped too closely together, which sometimes caused us to misdial our channel changes. The functional highlight of the remote, however, is the backlit LCD display. Flanked by four programmable keys that you can label differently on separate pages, it allows the Harmony to emulate even the most esoteric buttons as well as engage activities and macros.

What differentiates the LHAURX360 from other Harmonys, aside from coloring, are the four Xbox 360 face buttons at the center of the remote; color-coded to correspond to the X, Y, A, and B buttons on a 360 controller. While they can be programmed via the remote's update software just like any other keys, the horizontal alignment makes them less than intuitive to navigate for seasoned users of Xbox controllers. If you're already comfortable navigating the 360's dashboard interface with a control pad, the 360-specific buttons don't provide as much of an advantage over the Harmony 520 as you might think. But if you prefer to set the controller aside when using the 360's media functions, you may find the buttons a welcome addition.

Moving around to the back, the Logitech Harmony for Xbox 360 uses four AAA batteries. With the energy-sapping neon-green backlight left on--completely on purpose, we might add--it ran for a little more than a week. While that's an extreme case, it highlights one of the remote's biggest flaws; it really could have benefited from a recharger dock such as the one found on its big brother, the Harmony 880. Instead, you'll probably want to invest in a set of third-party rechargeable nickel-metal-hydride batteries.

The remote comes preloaded with full 360-enabled functions; in order to add any more devices, you have to use the Web-based software, which is Windows and Mac compatible. The box boasts compatibility with more than 100,000 devices, and when we fired up the software and scrolled through the company list, we didn't see any reason to argue that bullet point. The scope can be a bit daunting for beginners, since there are a few dozen component types, such as TV, A/V receiver, and DVD player, and hundreds of manufacturers within each one of those. Thankfully, the software is pretty forgiving, and as long as you have the company name and model number, it should be able to cull the commands for your product. All told, we tested roughly 25 components--TVs, A/V receivers, DVD players, video game consoles, cable boxes, and home-stereo systems--and we could not find a remote-enabled product that was not listed or would not work once we uploaded the profile to the remote. It can hold a maximum of 12 devices in its memory, which should be plenty for any one entertainment center.

Along with the ability to control devices individually, the remote includes the Activities function that we liked so much in previous Logitech Harmony remotes. In essence, it allows the LHAURX360 to control different components simultaneously, and it works more intuitively than a standard device-centered remote. For example, you can program a Watch DVD activity that turns on your TV, A/V receiver, DVD player, and speaker system; sets them all to the correct channels or inputs; and even starts playing the DVD. While the movie is playing, the controls you designate will "punch through" to the appropriate device--the DVD controls and the numerical keypad to control the DVD, the volume up/down buttons to control the speakers, and the power button to turn the whole thing off in one fell swoop. With a little care, we were able to get all of the important functions incorporated into the activities that we programmed; for those that we missed, we simply toggled back to the Component Control mode.

As far as PC-programmable universal remotes go, the Logitech Harmony Advanced Universal Remote for Xbox 360 stands in a unique position. From a design standpoint, it's much better than the majority of the remotes on the market. Its functionality is top-notch as well, and we found its ergonomics to be an improvement over the more expensive Harmony 880. In fact, with the addition of a color screen and a rechargeable battery, the LHAURX360 (or its twin brothers, the Logitech Harmony 520 and 550), would give the 880 a run for its money. Given the more affordable price points, all three models are an easy recommendation for anyone looking for a great universal remote. But with its extra buttons, the LHAURX360 may very well be the pick of the litter.

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