Things were much simpler back in the old days. You had one TV, one remote and probably, a video recorder. Two remotes. Life was simple and we were happy.
It’s all different these days. As well as our TV, we have Sky + boxes, Freeview boxes, DVD recorders, Media Center systems, separate surround sound systems, and Scart switch boxes. Nightmare. The remote controls take up so much space we’ve got nowhere to sit, and its all so complicated that it’s usually easier to go read a book than work out how to watch the news.
This is what spawned the concept of the universal remote, the idea being that instead of having to take your pick from a table full of remotes you could have one to rule them all. Your 'precious', so to speak. Of course not all universal remotes are born equal. While some are relatively simple others are huge and complex and usually sport large full colour LCD screens, which tends to bump the price up somewhat.
Logitech however, has a range of more accessble universal remotes under its Harmony brand and the 525 is its most affordable unit yet.
It sports quite a different look to the other remotes in the range, but despite its price it's arguably the smartest of the lot. Certainly it looks eye catching lying on the coffee table. When you pick it up it has a good weight in the hand and is balanced well by the battery compartment at the base, which contains four AAA batteries. A set is already housed inside the unit and a spare set is included too, which is generous. The inexpensive nature of the product is only apparent once you start pressing some of the buttons, most of which are soft and spongy. Some are better, notably the direction control in the middle and perhaps most crucially, the volume and channel changing controls.
There is a backlight so you can see what you’re pressing in a darkened room, but only once you’ve found the ‘Glow’ button in the dark. Not surprisingly at this price there’s no motion sensor to activate it automatically when you pick it up.
There’s a small LCD screen towards the top. Inevitably, not all of any given device's controls can be mimicked in the hard buttons, so you’ll need to use the arrow keys beneath the screen to scroll to the control you need, selected by corresponding butotns round the screen. A USB port sits at the top centre, while at the opposite end is the learning infra-red port used for capturing any commands not in the Harmony database.
To start off you need to install the software supplied in the CD and connect up the device to your computer via USB. The software then connects to the Harmony web site so a convenient and fast broadband connection is something of a prerequisite for this device.