Archive for May, 2008

Together In Perfect Harmony

May 25, 2008

Above pictured is the Logitech Harmony One Universal Remote Control

After 8 plus years of using my trusty old war horse, the Marantz RC2000MKII, I finally decided it was time to upgrade my universal remote. I knew I wanted another programmable one, with macros, I just wasn’t sure which. I had heard some good things about Harmony, and decided to take the plunge Friday. I just want to say, that I’ve NEVER had ANY consumer electronic be so intuitive and easy to operate right out of the box! I usually judge how simple a product is to use, by counting the amount of profanities spewed during installation. The more curses, the less usable. Well, I am proud to say, after 3 days of setting up, (which actually only took 15 minutes, I like to tweak) and use of this device, not even a “gosh darnit” has been uttered from me! EVERYTHING, and I do mean EVERYTHING had worked as advertised and has been a joy!

I have had tons of remotes over the years, and all have claimed to have ways to alleviate complicated, multiple button presses. You sit for hours programming each step for a Macro. Turn on this, switch to that input, turn TV to another input, only to hit the button to find NONE of it works because you forgot to add a 2 second pause or some other inane reason. If, after all that, and you aren’t discouraged, you’ll still never use the Macro, because you have to create another one to get out of the first one! Or shut everything off to start over another ma…..AHHHH! See what I mean?!?! Those days are over with the Harmony One. I actually use Macros for the first time in my life, which Harmony calls “Activities”. It truly is as simple as touching on the screen, things like; Watch a DVD or Listen to a CD. You can even customize those labels! For Instance, mine says “watch a Blu-Ray” and so forth. If you are doing one thing, and hit the Activity for something else, the remote KNOWS it, and switches accordingly. Best thing of all, it has a help button that actually helps!

The true test of a remote’s worth is the WIFE test. My wife came up to see what the fuss was about this thing. Guess what? She loves it! She can actually enjoy the best theater in the house now without my help! She loves the feel of it, the fact it has actual nice buttons, is light, and how simple it is to use without having to ask me what input, etc. If you are thinking of getting one, the only thing to keep in mind, is that it is infrared only. No Bluetooth, PS3’s or radio frequencies. But if you are like me, with an infrared system (including climate controls) you are in for a treat. I don’t think I can rate this product any better, I give it a solid A, an A+ if it did Bluetooth or RF. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have some Blu-rays to catch up on this holiday weekend. -C

Taking it all too hard…

May 18, 2008

Well, after months of pondering, and a surprising number of requests to review the second box set, I purchased it. Sadly, I just could not justify spending so much to get the SACD box versions imported, and I wanted the bonus discs. I just don’t see why I should buy some of these albums for the 8th time, and spend 300 dollars plus. I found the sound to be quite good in the DTS 96/24 versions. On the last set, the DTS versions were quite good as well, and I doubt anyone but a nit-picky audiophiles could discern a difference. The best album of the bunch was by far, the 1982 album, simply titled Genesis. It’s quite nice to hear Mama in a version that gives the drums justice. That song was built for surround, and makes me ache for the final set coming later this year. Invisible Touch sounds great, but not the leap forward I was expecting. We can’t Dance (which I’ve always felt kind of petered out in the second half), was good, as was Calling all Stations. but most of these albums are more modern, and truly the surround was the only draw. I haven’t had time to dabble in the bonus disc yet, and from the interview I have seen with Ray Wilson, I remembered why I disliked him. One minute he was Genesis’ greatest fan, and the next, he had never heard of them. Sour grapes I suppose.

There is a new DVD coming of there latest concert reunion, it will be released during my vacation, and I will try to be more timely and post my comments on it. Looking back on this post, I don’t see or feel the same enthusiasm I did with the first box release. I think it’s a combination of lack of SACD, missing the bonus discs from the first set because of getting the SACD single versions, and the sheer number of times I have had to purchase the discs in the second volume. The Peter Gabriel era will cheer me up, regardless of  format I get them on I am sure. The Lamb in surround coming soon!

Well Now…

May 3, 2008

Sorry for the lack of posts lately. An ankle injury, and the release of Grand Theft Auto IV, has had me distracted. Don’t give up on me yet…