Gadgets 1058

Published on May 22nd, 2010 | by Greg


On Remotes and Music: Logitech Has You Covered

One of our biggest pet peeves is the amount of remotes needed to control our home entertainment system. I, for one, tend to lose remotes by my own admission, either stuffing them in the couch cushions or leaving them in odd places like the refrigerator.

After reviewing the Re and i-Got-Control remotes we knew Logitech’s Harmony 300i had large, if not impossible, shoes to fill. But we wanted to give it a fair shot, after all it uses your iPhones capabilities, and you all know how much we love our iPhones.

First, we must digress. The Harmony 300i model is considered the entry-level of remotes (think Toyota Corolla, not Lexus). That means that we highly suggest researching their line-up of models before purchasing. This particular model can replace 4 remotes but other models can handle more and have additional features. With that said, we must soldier on.

What we liked about the 300i was the easy “Watch TV” button and the simple set-up. The “Frustration Free Volume Control” could handle the volume, whether it was to the cable box or DVD player, without having to mess with various remotes. We were able to plug our remote into the computer and the FREE online software programmed our remote for us. We will add that you will most likely need to invest in the Logitech Harmony Adapter sincevmany devices like the PS3 don’t include an IR receiver (keep in mind the receiver costs just as much as the remote).

We were disappointed that more of the buttons weren’t backlit. Four of the buttons were, but we disliked fumbling in the dark for the rest. While memorization might be important for exams, it shouldn’t be for watching TV. If you want a remote with a rechargable battery that can turn on our dining room lights, then we suggest you invest in the Monster AVL-300 remote that operates everything but the kitchen sink. The 300i will only control your TV.

We had no complaints with the actual remote design as the buttons were nice and large, and if you want a color screen it is available on other models. We liked the glossy finish even though our finger smudges showed up more (yes, we’re suckers for shiny here at TO).

Our biggest problem with the remote is considered to be a general annoyance with the Harmony series. We were unable to organize our assortment of remotes under a single online account which caused us the inconvenience of using additional e-mail addresses for every Harmony remote we own. We hope the company addresses this problem promptly as many households purchase models like this to be the 2nd and 3rd helping of remotes for additional rooms and set-ups.

The bottom line: the Logitech Harmony 300i is the bottom of line. For $50 on Amazon, you get a decent remote that can remove the hassle of using 4 separate ones. We suggest using this for rooms that aren’t centered around a complicated home entertainment system. We liked the easy set-up and the price though we were still left wanting more.

We also had the pleasure of reviewing another Logitech product; on the other end of the spectrum we have the Squeezebox Radio that is a virtual Wi-Fi music player. This is for those of us who have separation anxiety when we’re away from our streaming internet music (or don’t want to hear our annoying co-worker tell another story about doing body shots). Those of you who have been with us a while already know how much we love our Squeezebox. New versions can only mean good things, as far as we’re concerned.

We loved the choice of colors- red or black- and the retro look. This model looks like a cross between a 50’s radio and a boombox. Far nicer than a previous retro wi-fi radio we looked at last year. When we first started using the Squeezebox, back before it was owned by Logitech we longed for a more user friendly remote. We got exactly that in the second Squeezebox we tried. Never ones to be satisfied completely, the second time around we hoped for a version that would allow us to sync up our iPods and iPhones- we didnÊ»t get quite what we wished for this time. However, thatÊ»s not necessarily a bad thing, either. What we got instead was internet radio, and a handful of other internet goodies as well. What we lost was that remote we were talking about. The Squeezebox Radio doesnÊ»t utilize a remote control at all.

There were too many FREE internet radio stations to name them all, but you won’t be disappointed in the amount of choices. We tested the primary suspects, like Pandora, Slacker and Lala. We wish they would add more than 6 preset buttons as we feel the love on so many stations, but overall, the sound quality and functionality of moving this from room-to-room or work is an added bonus. We were able to listen to our own iTunes playlist and enjoyed being able to look at album covers displayed on the screen. The screen was an 2.4 inch LCD and allowed for easy navigation, as well as a smoragasboard of apps for Flickr and Facebook. We were able to update our Facebook status and read our wall posts, as well as count how many internet friends we have. (All of this is very important when trying to appear busy at work!) There are a variety of apps available and we were able to suggest music to our friends. The display is remarkably crisp, and can double as a cool place to display photos as well.

We took it work and were able to listen to talk radio and the sound quality was impressive considering how small and compact this is. Keep in mind though this is only MONO sound and you won’t be crushed. There’s only one output, and it’s a 3.5mm jack, in the future we’d like to see more output choices. The Squeezebox itself is a know-it-all, as it automatically sets its own time when connected to the internet. It will stream your choice of morning tunes as you begrudgingly wake up in the morning. There is no red clock display which in our case is fine, but some might find lacking. We particularly appreciated the built-in sound effects like rain or thunderstorms which were enjoyed when falling asleep.

We found the Squeezebox for around $150 on Amazon and feel the price is well worth it. Logitech has filled a niche in the market for streaming music and theyʻre doing it well. We look forward to the next Squeezebox that Logitech dreams up, and until that time arrives weʻll enjoy this new one ever bit as much as itʻs predecessors.

About the Author

Greg dreamed up the idea for the Truly Network while living in Hawaii, which began with a single site called TrulyObscure. In 2010, when advertisers and readers were requesting coverage beyond the scope of that site, TrulyNet was launched, reaching a broader audience over a variety of niche sites. Formerly the head technology correspondent for the Des Moines Register at age 16, he has since lived and worked in five states and two countries, helping a list of organizations and companies that includes the United States Census Bureau, TripAdvisor, Events Photo Group, Berlitz, and Computer Geeks. He also served as the Content Strategy Manager for HearPlanet, a multi-platform app that has reached over a million users and has been featured in the New York Times, Hemispheres Magazine, National Geographic Adventure, Fox Business News, PC Magazine, and even Apple’s own iPhone ads. Greg has written as a restaurant critic and feature journalist for a number of national and international publications, including City Weekend Magazine, Red Egg Magazine, the Newton Daily News, Capital Change Magazine, and an arm of China Daily, Beijing Weekend. In addition, he has served as a consulting editor for the Foreign Language Press of Beijing, as well as a writer and editor for the George Washington University Hatchet, the school newspaper of his alma mater. Originally from Iowa, Greg is currently living in the West Village of Manhattan.

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