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Logitech Harmony 1000 Universal Remote - Logitech Harmony 1000
In practice I was impressed with both the size and breadth of the Harmony's component database. Much of the setup takes place at the installation stage: with the remote fully charged, you simply connect it to your computer or laptop and install the Harmony client software, which then asks you to enter the model names of each item of equipment you want to control.
Not only did the database recognise my relatively new Samsung plasma TV and Denon 1920 DVD player successfully, but it also picked up two rather obscure and esoteric high end hi-fi components - a Primare A30.1 stereo amplifier and Unison Research Unico CD - which is a mighty impressive feat.
The next step is to set up what Logitech calls 'Activities', which are designed to simplify certain tedious tasks by linking control sequences together and assigning them to one button. When I change from watching TV on my Sky box to watching a DVD, for instance, I normally have to turn the DVD player on, then switch sources on the TV manually, switch the amplifier on and flick that to the correct source so I can experience that big movie sound. Finally I mute the volume on the TV and turn off the satellite box. It's all a bit of a pain.
With an activity set up on the Harmony 1000, the idea is that these operations become simply a matter of clicking one on-screen button. It's amazingly simple to set up - you just answer a few questions, in which the software asks you what source you want the TV to switch to, which component you want to control the volume with and whatever other commands you want to send. You can even have it automatically turn off devices that aren't in use, which will certainly help your electricity bill and reduce your carbon footprint.