In a wasteland of remote controls we strive to find an all in one solution for controlling our AV set up. Universal remote controls are the most obvious answer but the bargain store versions have always been fairly poor at steeping up to the plate and delivering a truly ‘universal’ experience.At The premium end of the spectrum, The Logitech Harmony range has always been one of the best on the market at giving the user a comprehensive solution but while they have been better than others, they still aren’t perfect.  The Harmony 1100i is the best model yet, but it still falls victim to the fundamental flaws of the technology.

The most obvious issue is the automation – there is no intelligence within the remote.  It is not a flaw of the product but more of a limit of what a universal remote can do.  It can only perform a series of commands.  If you want to watch a DVD the remote can turn on your television, your DVD player and your home theatre system.  However, what if the TV is already switched on?  Since it sends a series of commands, it will invariably turn the TV off while turning the rest of the devices on.   The illusion of automation is what is on sale here, but if you are willing to accept that there are certain caveats to a universal remote, then the Harmony 1100i, is definitely one of the best options around.

It is a touch screen remote which gives you the freedom to fully customise the on-screen display via a PC.  Unlike basic universal remotes, the Harmony is actually rather easy to set up and the range of supported devices is extensive to say the least.  Some of our AV equipment has popular in the time of Vanilla Ice and Happy Pants but the remote was still able to control them with ease.  Setting up the remote is an online process via the Harmony website.

Rather than have to fiddle with the device itself, all you need do is plug it into your PC via USB and log on to the website.  Following a series of wizards you can set up all your devices, which you want to display on screen at certain times, what buttons to show and best of all, your profile is saved indefinitely.  If you upgrade to another Harmony remote down the track, or if you lose the one you have, all you need do is log back in and upload your profile to the new device.

This iteration of the Harmony is very similar to previous models, in fact it is almost identical to the 1000i.  It has been given a polish and works a little better but it is essentially the same remote.  The most noticeable change is that the touch screen is much more responsive this time around and far more forgiving if you don’t quite hit a button dead centre.  The one thing we found is that unlike the Xbox 360, the remote won’t work with the PS3.  That isn’t the fault of the remote though, as the PS3 uses Bluetooth rather than infra-red for its remotes.

We found the Harmony 1100i to be fairly easy to set up, easy to use and on the whole, a pretty cool little device.  It certainly has its limitations but if you are willing to overlook them, it is easily one of the best universal remote control solutions on the market.  That being said, it is difficult to recommend it based purely on its extravagant price tag. At nearly $900, unless you have the money to burn, you are better off just putting up with the mountain of remotes on the coffee table.

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