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Logitech Harmony 1000 Universal Remote
The remote control hasn't been around long in the overall scheme of life on Earth, but its evolution over the past thirty years has mirrored that of human kind in an eerily similar way.
From its humble sonic-click hunter-gatherer-like beginnings, the remote has spread steadily like a virus, multiplying in numbers. Once you'd count yourself lucky if you had one. Now living rooms across the globe are drowning in a deluge of them. It can't be long before they start to reproduce - and global meltdown will surely not be far behind.
Melodramatic metaphor aside, however, the proliferation of remotes is a growing problem. It's why the universal remote control is an increasingly popular device, and why many manufacturers are beginning to ship remotes with some sort of multi-device capability in the box.
As a technology journalist, I'm afflicted by a particularly virulent strain of remote control plague. At the last count I had seven remotes in, on and around my sofa at home, not counting the stuff that I'm reviewing at the moment - and though not life-threatening it's getting to be a real pain.
I'd love a decent universal remote that does away with the need for so many button-festooned slabs of black plastic, but the problem with many of these is that they rarely duplicate your other remotes perfectly. And this means you have to keep the other remotes handy in case you need to access some obscure menu that isn't on your universal unit - or you have to 'teach' them laboriously, button by button, the functions you want.
It's a problem Logitech aims to solve with its Harmony 1000. And it looks to have impressive credentials. The manufacturer claims that it has more than 175,000 products in its remote control database, and these are constantly updated. And because the Harmony 1000 is managed via your PC, this in theory, means that the remote will never go out of date and will always be able to cope with your ever-expanding hi-fi and AV system.
It certainly looks and feels the part. It's slim, clad in brushed silver aluminium on the front with blue-backlit buttons, while the rear is rubberised to help you grip it. The remote doesn't just have hardware controls - for common stuff like adjusting volume and changing channel - but also a touch screen so it can emulate the operations of even the most obscure buttons. Other neat touches include a lithium-ion battery, which recharges when you drop it into the supplied cradle, and a motion sensor, which turns the remote on whenever you pick it up.