Written by: Kirsten Richards
How many remote controls are floating around your living room? If it’s anything like my house, you’ll have one for the TV, the DVD player, the cable box, and the audio receiver. Learning to operate each one is a hassle; locating them is sometimes an even bigger hassle. If you want to watch a movie, you might have to use three different remotes! How ridiculous is that? The Logitech Harmony 550 Universal Remote Control makes operating multiple machines a breeze. You’ll never have to search for a remote again!
The Logitech Harmony 550 offers a sleek, easy-to-handle design. It can control up to 15 devices at the same time using its patented Smart Start Technology. Programming the remote is simple. Instead of searching through a list of programming numbers, just plug the remote into your computer, and use the online wizard to link your devices to the remote.
The Harmony 550 comes with all the standard remote control buttons. But what makes this remote control special is the way it’s designed to help you access your machines. The first step is to press the “Activities” button on top. It will then give you a few options: Watch TV, Watch a Movie, or Play a Game. There might be other options, depending on what you have programmed it to do. The “Watch TV” button will turn on the TV, the audio receiver, and the cable box all at the same time. Incredible!
Another great feature of the remote is the “Help” button. If for some reason a device does not turn on, a press of “Help” will send the remote through a series of troubleshooting moves. First, it will ask, “Is the TV on?” You’ll respond with either “Yes” or “No.” Then, it will ask, “Did that fix the problem?” Again, you’ll respond, “Yes” or “No.” It will continue this process until the problem is solved.
One more selling point: if you use a video gaming system to watch movies or stream Netflix or Hulu, this remote control functions as a regular DVD remote. When I want to pause a movie I’m streaming on Netflix on our PS3, I can press the pause button on the remote. I don’t have to use the PS3 controller or do something special to switch from PS3 controls to DVD controls. So, you can count your game system controller as another remote the Harmony 550 can replace (when you’re not playing a game).
One downside of the Harmony 550 is that it is pricey. I was skeptical about buying such an expensive “toy” when we first got the remote. Now that I’ve used it for a year, though, I would never go back. It’s just too convenient. You can also buy a refurbished Harmony 550 that is considerably cheaper than a new one.
Another problem can be the setup of the remote itself. Some people complain that it takes a long time to get the remote configured exactly the way they want it. But even if it takes over an hour to setup, the reward in lack of frustration in the future is worth a little time investment on the front end.
Logitech also offers a variety of other universal remotes that provide additional features like touch screens and super strength signals that can go through walls or cabinets. Of course, these are more expensive than the 550. If you have a modest home theater system, then the Logitech Harmony 550 Universal Remote Control will definitely meet your needs, and it will make you wonder why you waited so long to buy it in the first place.