Logitech introduced its first Internet-powered universal remote control since the company acquired Intrigue Technologies in May. Like its predecessors, the new Logitech Harmony 676 solves a problem that plagues most modern homes -- too many complicated remote controls.
The Harmony 676 is affordable, easy to set up and simple to use. It can control any electronic component that uses an infrared receiver, and each remote can control as many as 15 devices. Harmony remotes are designed for the way people think, with buttons that reflect single activities -- such as Watch TV. With one touch, these buttons can establish the proper state of all components involved in that activity rather than requiring people to push an elaborate sequence of buttons on multiple remotes. All Harmony remotes are Internet-powered -- they are easily programmable through a shared, online database containing information on tens of thousands of component types and brands. The Harmony 676 is the first Harmony remote to include interchangeable, colored faceplates -- in silver, red and blue -- designed to suit individual tastes and match the decor of any living room. The available buttons include enhanced control for satellite television and personal video recorder (PVR) devices such as TiVo, the Harmony 676 makes it easy to take complete control of an entertainment system.
"People want a single device that can help them conquer their entire entertainment system," said Bryan McLeod, vice president of Logitech's Remote Control group. "They want a remote that anyone in their family can understand and use. They want one that is easy to update and won't ever be outdated. The Harmony 676 remote does all that, but also allows the home-entertainment enthusiast to configure the remote with advanced commands. And with the changeable faceplates, it provides the versatility to create the right look."
Harmony remotes are able to combine multiple infrared commands into one command, with the push of a single button. For example, to watch TV on a satellite system with a personal video recorder (PVR), the TV, receiver, satellite, and PVR box may all have to be powered up and set to the right inputs -- which could require pressing 10 or more buttons on several remote controls. With the Harmony Remote, one activity button -- such as Watch TV, Listen to Music, or Watch Video -- can be programmed to launch all the correct components with the correct input settings in the correct sequence. Both Harmony remotes include dedicated activity buttons and six extra customizable buttons tied to the remote's LCD screen. It's possible to set up as many as 255 activities.
Logitech Harmony remotes are able to control entire activities thanks to patent-pending Smart State Technology. Smart State Technology allows the Harmony remote to always know the state of each component. When the user selects an activity, the Smart State Technology immediately evaluates the current state of all the individual entertainment devices and then sends the appropriate commands for the activity. Thus, Smart State Technology enables the Harmony Remote to quickly and easily turn on the TV, DVD and receiver, set the inputs, and even start a DVD movie -- all with one touch of a button.
All Logitech Harmony remotes are programmable based on a shared customer online database that includes profiles of tens of thousands of electronic components. During setup, customers simply answer a series of questions about the setup and models of their entertainment system. The remote is then configured by downloading all instructions for that unique mix of components via a USB connection. This online community of Harmony users constantly updates the database, ensuring that even the latest and greatest components will be included in short order. To make installation easy, a setup wizard poses questions in a natural language format. And because there are intricacies with everyone's setup, Logitech maintains a toll-free tech support line available seven days a week and a quick response e-mail support system.
Typical universal remotes are restricted in what they can control based on the information stored when they were manufactured. If a new component is added to an entertainment system, the universal remote may not be able to control it. Because the Logitech Harmony remotes are Internet-powered, they can always be easily updated -- and are never out of date. Each customer's setup is maintained in a Web page -- when they want to make a change to their setup, they simply log onto the Logitech Harmony site and make the change.
The Logitech Harmony 676 will be available in the U.S. and Canada beginning in October for a suggested retail price of U.S. $229.95.