Hating the Logitech Harmony One
The Chromecast is Google’s new “set-top box” for the internet age. It’s a tiny dongle that lets you cast content from your Android and iOS devices or from the Chrome browser directly to your television.
It’s a $35 answer to the Apple TV.
Regardless, I bought one the day it was announced. I love it. I brought it home to meet my parents. They fell in love with it too. And then I took it with me when I moved back onto campus for the school year.
Now it’s thanksgiving break and I’m home again. To my great surprise, my parents bought their own Chromecast. Great! Now I can sit around on the couch and watch Youtube and Netflix all day.
But first I have to turn it on.
Let me explain:
My parents have a full “entertainment center” setup in their living room. This consists of:
A TWC Cable Box
A DishNetwork Satelite Box
An AVC Box
The TV itself
And now the Chromecast
And it’s all controlled by the remote that haunted my childhood- the Logitech Harmony One. Now, don’t get me wrong. It’s a great looking remote. Its touchscreen makes it easy to turn on cable and set the TV’s input with one click. The Help button adequately solves most common problems caused by some device being on the wrong input.
So why do I hate it?
The setup’s a bitch.
However many years ago, my father and uncles set it up. The first page of activites read “Internet, Watch DVD, Home Media.” Two of those three options did nothing at all. Watching cable meant scrolling to the third page, ignoring a half-dozen useless options, and clicking “Watch Warner Cable.”
So here I am, sprawled out on the couch. I ask my mother, “How do I get to the Chromecast?” “I don’t know.”
Whatever. I look at the back of the TV, discover it’s plugged into HDMI 4. Okay. So I need to turn on the TV and AVC (I want sound, after all), and flop that over to HDMI 4.
Watch Warner Cable. Easiest way to turn all this stuff on.
Devices. Mess with the TV settings, right?
SAMSUNG TELEVISION 314890. Here they are.
Next Page. None of the options on this page make sense.
Next Page. Okay here are the HDMI options.
Okay “Ready to Cast.” Not too bad, overall. Took me a minute or two to dig through the menus, but there’s no way my mother’s figuring that out.
I know! I’ll just set up the Harmony One remote to turn this on with a single click. Duhhhh.
“Hey dad, how do I set up the remote.”
“There was a webUI, I think”
Google -> logitech harmony -> setup my remote.
My dad had a password saved.
Oh look, a few logitech remotes we’ve owned. Hmmm, not the one I’m trying to adjust.
“I swear this is how we did it,” says my dad.
I read the small text on the webpage. It lists some remotes the webapp is compatible with. The Harmony One isn’t, but the One+ is. The “+” is too small for my dad to read.
Some more googling leads me to the discovery that there’s an application I’ve got to download. Alright, I say, whipping out my Macbook. Like a caveman, I install the app. Oh look, it’s just a wrapper frame for the older setup web app. There’s absolutely no reason I couldn’t do this in a browser.
And it uses a different login than the webui we’d previously accessed. My father has no password saved for this one, so I go ahead and click the “I have no idea what my login is” button.
This bit, they got right. Plug in your remote. It detects the account the remote is associated with, asks my dad a security question, and now we’re off to the races.
It’s an older interface, but it’s functional. A lot of dropdown menus where I choose what hardware should be turned on and what each button should do. An update remote button that starts the five minute process of pushing the instructions to the remote, rebooting it twice, and some invisible battery of tests.
I can reorder the activities list by moving each option up or down by one. Slowly but surely, I whip this remote into shape.
I shouldn’t feel this triumphant adjusting a remote. It should be…a lot less work.
And guess what, the new webui for the handfull of newer remotes? It’s made of the same five-years-ago web technologies, microsoft silverlight, and a custom logitech plugin for your browser.