I have found a gadget that works as advertised and I love it. It is the Harmony® One Advanced Universal Remote control. If you’re anything like me you have three or four remote controls on the coffee table and you’re the only one who knows how they all work. I’ve grown tired of having to explain which remote does what, and which input setting all of the components need to be set to. So I was excited when I was invited by BzzAgent.com to test the Logitech Harmony — I was told that it was easy to program and it really controlled everything . . . but I had my doubts.

Past experience
In the past I haven’t had much confidence in Universal Remotes. Typically I’d end up spending a lot of time trying to input codes, waiting for buttons to flash, and trying various combinations over and over until things worked. Even then when the programming was complete, I’ve never had the experience of having the remote control do everything I tried to program it to do. Sure, I’d end up with a remote that was able to control some features, but never all features. Typically my remote might turn on my TV and control my DVD player but as soon as I tried to raise the volume on my stereo to control the surround sound, the remote would opt to control TV volume — which I had disabled due to me running sound through the surround sound receiver. My experience with the Harmony One was exactly as advertised.

One-touch, activity-based control
The Harmony One remote provides one-touch, activity-based control. This means when you complete the set up, you’ll only need to press one button to perform any task. For example, if I press the “Watch a DVD” button on the touch screen, the Harmony One remote powers on the TV, DVD player, stereo receiver, sets inputs and even starts the movie. Did I mention there was a touch screen? This is the one feature that really makes everything work — because there is a touch screen there is never a button that is missing from the remote. Every feature from every component will always be able to be added.

Guided online setup, live support
Most Universal Remotes include a printed booklet with codes for specifying which TV, DVD player, set-top box, or other device the user is trying to control. For popular brands, there can be a dozen or more codes to try before you stumble on the right one. And then you have to press strange combinations of buttons to enter the device code. This process isn’t very user-friendly.

The Logitech Harmony solves this challenge with its guided online setup. Create a Harmony account on a computer connected to the Internet and you’ll be guided through the setup process. You specify the exact make and model of every component and, once the remote is connected to the computer, the control codes for those specific devices are automatically downloaded to the remote from the Harmony Device Database.

It’s easy . . . Really
While all of this sounds like it could be complicated — I found set up to be simple and easy. It was so simple that I didn’t need to open the instruction book once. There is a small printed getting started guide that came with the remote which had a few steps in it telling me what to expect. After reviewing the guide I let the wizards in the software take me through the whole process.

I found that the Logitech software had uncluttered screens, used non-technical language, had helpful tips, and progress indicators to let me know where I was in the process. It was simple enough so that even the most techno-phobic consumers would be capable of setting up their remote quickly right out of the box.

If you just take a few moments before you get started to write down all of the manufacturers’ model numbers of the components you own, you’ll be in great shape. And, if any questions arise the Harmony Customer Support call center is staffed by friendly, knowledgeable people who are ready to provide answers.

The suggested retail price of the Logitech Harmony One advanced universal remote is $249.99 (U.S.).