The remote control you can't find is always the one you need. Gadget fans' living rooms are often so laden with cables, power supplies and remote controls that losing one or two is a veritable inevitability. Remotes like the Logitech Harmony 200 seek to bring a zen-like simplicity to your home. And this cheapest-yet model retails for under £20 too.
Logitech's Harmony series has traditionally offered relatively high-end remotes for home cinema fanatics, offering a way to meld a half-dozen remote controls without losing - and even enhancing - functionality. The Harmony 200 is the cheapest and most accessible entry to the series yet.
Build quality hasn’t suffered, though. The remote feels very tough, with creak-free plastics and a solid, weighty frame. Unlike more expensive remotes, it doesn't rattle when you shake it either - something caused by the accelerometer of smarter models. Although we haven't put the Harmony 200 through any harsh trials, it should survive being lobbed around by a four year-old in a tantrum a few times.
The handset's ergonomics are great. There are two sweeping ridges on its back, designed to sit underneath your first two fingers. In our hands, it fits with a heart-warming familiarity. Your thumb then naturally rests onto the D-pad, the essential playback buttons also within easy reach.
We're not so convinced by the dual-tone finish however. The curved back of the remote is matt textured black, while the front is very glossy. It gives the Harmony 200 a snazzier look than the all-matt 300 model, but the effect hasn't been perfectly executed here. In the high-end Harmony One, Logitech makes sure that, from the front, it appears all-glossy. Two-tone is all good, but the glossy-matt divide doesn't quite work in our eyes. As a device primarily of function rather than form, this is a minor niggle that will soon be forgotten in use.
The Logitech Harmony 200 features a very similar button layout to the series's top-end models, intended to cover the main functions offered by the most popular living room devices. The numerical keypad and playback buttons are obvious inclusions, but things like the Info and Guide buttons demonstrate closer consideration of what we, as gadget-loving punters, need.
There remain some curious omissions, though. What about a discrete Library button to access the recordings on the PVRs so many of us own? As we'll learn later, the potential for customisation dilutes this problem.
Above the "standard" buttons are the three white device selectors. These switch the functions of the buttons below - and yes, this means that the Logitech Harmony 200 can only emulate three remotes at once. However, this will be enough for the living rooms of many - and at £19.99 it's cheap enough to buy several for different rooms of the house.
Right at the top is the one, lone, yellow macro button, dubbed "Watch TV". It may have couch potato overtones but comes in very handy, once setup. On the top edge of the remote is a miniUSB slot, used to connect the Harmony 200 to a PC to setup, while the IR transmitter is on the back.
The batteries - two AAs are supplied - fit into the "standard" remote battery cubby hole on the back. There's no facility for battery charging within the remote itself, but if you already own a charger and some low self-discharge rechargeable NiMH batteries, you're laughing.