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Logitech Harmony Remotes and the PS3

July 26th, 2009

First things first: If you’re only minimally using your PS3 as a multimedia device, the Logitech Harmony remotes and Playstation 3 adapter are not for you. If you use your PS3 as a media hub, then it is a must have item.

My experience started when I realized my cable box DVR remote didn’t have a 30 second skip feature. I figured if I was going to buy a universal remote, it needed to be universal. After a bit of research, I ended up with the Logitech Harmony 880. From Amazon, with the PS3 adapter, it was about $180.

My first instinct was “Did I really just spend $180 bucks on a remote control.” Yeah, that’s a good chunk of change. If you’re looking for a cool toy to play with, I recommend it, but if you’re trying to save money, having a few different remotes and/or using the PS3 controller isn’t that big of a deal.

So if you were to ask me if I got my $180 bucks worth, my answer would be, “no.” However, that doesn’t mean that this thing isn’t really cool.

Instead of the standard style of universal remotes, Logitech has given us “activity based” universal remotes. Depending on the activity that you choose, the remote buttons react differently. For example, with a standard universal remote, if you want to switch from your DVD player to your cable box, you push the TV button, select the appropriate input, then push the cable button to control the cable box. If you have a receiver/amplifier that needs to change, you push that button and change the inputs as required.

With the Harmony remotes, you select an activity. For example, this video shows me switching from watching a show on a cable box to moving to my movie collection streamed from the PS3 (requires Firefox 3.5):

The important part to note is that I’ve only pressed one button. I set up the remote with a “Watch Movies” button. I push the button, it turns on the PS3, switches the TV input, and automatically navigates to the movies in the PS3 XMB. If I want to go back to watching TV, the remote turns off the PS3, switches the input back to the cable box, and brings up the guide.

Of course, all of this is configurable and you can create whatever macros you want. All in all, it’s a nice device. If you’re a fan of a single remote, this is a must have item. If you want a cool toy to play with, this is a must have item. If you just use the media features occasionally, skip it.

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