Hardware

Geek Gifts 2010: Logitech Harmony 900 universal remote

Even though Logitech's Harmony 900 replaces up to 15 remotes, comes with RF wireless capability, and supports more than 5,000 brands and 225,000 devices, would you pay $300 for a remote?

In our home, we have more electronics and gaming consoles than we have time to use. This also means that we have a lot of remote controls. The Logitech Harmony 900 universal remote allows us to control all of our devices (except the Wii) with one remote. Plus, since the Harmony 900 comes with RF wireless capability, we can put our electronics in a cabinet and still use the remote up to 100 ft. away.

Specifications and features

  • RF wireless capability
  • IR blaster
  • Charging station
  • USB cable
  • 2 IR mini blasters
  • 2 AC adapters
  • Lithium-ion battery
  • Full-color touch screen
  • Ergonomic design
  • Backlit buttons
  • Replaces up to 15 remotes
  • Compatible with Windows 2000, XP, Vista, or 7 and Mac OS X 10.3 - 10.5
  • Where to buy: Logitech site and various online retailers, including Amazon.com, Office Depot, and Newegg
  • Price: $299.99 USD

What I like

  • Easy to program: You can even program some advanced features.
  • Connection: You don't have to connect the RF Blaster to the computer.
  • Device support: It supports more than 5,000 brands and 225,000 devices, including TiVo, Roku, cable DVR, and much more.
  • Doesn't stall during upload: The 900 hasn't stalled when uploading, which was a frequent problem that we experienced with the Harmony 880 and the Harmony 890.
  • Fits perfectly in cradle: The fact that the Harmony 900 fits perfectly in its cradle might seem like a given, but neither the Harmony 880 nor the Harmony 890 fit well in the remote cradle.
  • Intuitive: Once it's programmed, the remote is intuitive to use.
  • Display: It's easy to read.

What I don't like

  • Stops working sometimes: Every once in a while, the remote seems to stop working, and we have to remote the battery power. This has only happened three or four times in the seven months that we've had the remote.
  • Doesn't support PS3 out of the box: We purchased an adapter to connect the PS3 to the remote.
  • Touch screen's responsiveness: Sometimes the touch screen seems to be not as responsive as the buttons on the Harmony 880 and the Harmony 890, and other times it seems to be too responsive.
  • Doesn't display date: This is minor, but it doesn't display the date like on our previous universal remotes.
  • Price: My boyfriend and I have different ideas about whether this remote is a good value. Even though he only paid $200 for the remote (we had a 50% off coupon because we had problems with the Harmony 890, and he bought it when it was still selling for $400), I still think that is too much money to spend on a remote control.

Geek bottom line

If you want a universal remote with RF capability, the Harmony 900 is a good choice, as long as you're willing to spend $300. If you're thinking about buying the Harmony 900 for a gift, you'll definitely want to consider whether the recipient would be willing to do some programming to get the remote to work the way they want it.

Also read our Geek Gift reviews of the Logitech Harmony 650 Remote and the Logitech Harmony 1100 Advanced Universal Remote.

Geek gift score (out of 5)

  • Fun factor: ***
  • Geek factor: ****
  • Value: ***
  • Overall: ****

Want more reviews of tech gadgets and gizmos? Download the PDF of TechRepublic's Geek Gift Guide 2010.

About

Mary Weilage is a Senior Editor for CBS Interactive. She has worked for TechRepublic since 1999.

5 comments
kcboyette
kcboyette

I have the Logitech Harmony One and this is probably on my top 5 most useful gadgets that I have in my house. The customization and setup involved is GREAT and easy; all the way down to the icons for the touchscreen buttons, down to which device turns on in what order, down to the theme of the remote, down to putting in family pictures as a remote control screen saver. BALLIN!!! It feels great in your hand and best of all its GIRLFRIEND FRIENDLY!! On the downside though it doesn't have the feature of button learning/cloning as previous A/V all-in-one remotes did. This is a pretty basic feature that Logitech overlooked, but EH WELL. I LOVE this remote. I will definitely buy one again.

Stalemate
Stalemate

My Harmony ONE (the 900 without RF) controls the TV, cablebox, receiver, XBox360, VHS and soon a Blu-Ray reader. I love the control it has given back to us. Oh, and for giggles I programmed our mobile air conditioner into it. The ability to access (and update / upload) a huge selection of devices via the Harmony Remote software is such a useful feature that it should be highlighted on its own. The one-click activity selection makes things so much easier for my wife and kids than having to use 2-3 different remotes to get things going. I've updated my Harmony remote recently and took the opportunity to add some channel icons as well, so now the users no longer need to scan the guide or channel surf to find their shows (http://www.iconharmony.com/icons/home)

The 'G-Man.'
The 'G-Man.'

I'm sure they announced they are going to stop making these.

The 'G-Man.'
The 'G-Man.'

to run around and turn the channel, volume and so on cheaper that way...

Oz_Media
Oz_Media

I got a bulletin this time last year they always talk about end of life, perhaps to boost sales or make people wait for a new, upcoming and more expensive release. I've sold them for around $180 (channel sales/distribution) but clients usually go for the 7" touch screens or the Harmony 1100 (not as popular as an HID system)now instead of the hand held remotes for complex structured wiring installs. It's an excellent remote but unless you have a more intricate IR system throughout your home for multi-room access of the AV system, a cheap universal usually does the job just as well.