Logitech announces Harmony Touch remote

On Wednesday, Logitech added a new member to its family of programmable remote controls with the $250 Harmony Touch.

The Logitech Harmony Touch is an infrared (IR) remote that features a 2.4-inch color touchscreen. While that may sound a lot like the company’s $200 Harmony One, the design and functionality are actually rather different.

The Harmony Touch adds support for scrolling and swiping on its touchscreen for quicker access to your pre-built activities and other features; and you can now add, remove, and re-order up to 50 favorite channel icons from your cable or satellite TV service.

The Logitech Harmony Touch in its charging cradle.

Compared to the Harmony One, the screen moves from the top of the remote to about one-third of the way down, and core media controls (play/pause, record, stop, forward, and backward) and the Off button sit above the screen. All buttons are backlit so you can use the remote in a dark environment.

The remote can control up to 15 of your home-entertainment devices (TVs, DVRs, set-top boxes, and so on) and the setup software provides access to a database of more then 225,000 devices from more than 5000 companies. You can create macros known as activities that let you, say, turn on your HDTV and set its input, and then turn on your DVR, with a single tap of the finger. (In my experience with past Harmony remotes, this activities-based approach works well, but the downside is that you must set them up on your computer. The process requires you to make additions or changes in the software, plug the remote in via USB, update the remote, then test the functions to see if they work as expected. From what I can tell, the process doesn’t change with the new Touch model.)

The Harmony Touch uses a rechargeable battery, and uses a vertical charging station that’s more like that of a cordless phone than the flat charger of the Harmony One.

The Harmony Touch should be available in the U.S. and Europe later this month. It requires a Mac running OS X 10.5 or later, or a PC running Windows XP or later, for setup and configuration.

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