Remote Control of Sanity

Growing up, my experiences with “Universal Remote Controls” were probably very typical of many others.  You spend a few bucks on a device that promises to control your TV, stereo, VCR, CD player, and… well I guess that was about it at the time.  You buy the remote, take it home, unpack it from the hard plastic casing, and take out the small piece of paper that unfolded into something the size of a page of the New York Times.  Printed in small font was a list of all devices that universal remote controlled, along with a list of between 3-10 codes that could potentially program the remote.  After meticulously going through the coding that involved some seemingly random string of buttons on the remote, then typing in the device code, you’d then hit the power button, say a short prayer, and hope that the device turned on.  You’d repeat this process for hours until you could control each device.  But inevitably there was always that one device that didn’t work with the remote.  The “Universal Remote” was an elusive concept that never seemed to conceptualize.

Today, the scenario isn’t all that different.  Today I have a TV, DirecTV receiver, DirecTV DVR, Stereo Receiver, Mac Mini, Wii, and Blu-Ray Player that all need to be controlled.  Just to watch TV two remotes are required for the TV and stereo.  The situation gets more complicated with each component you want to interact with.

For several years now, I’ve heard glowing reviews for the Logitech line of universal remote controls.  I’ve never really given much thought to them because of the price points.  Many can go for a few hundred dollars or more.  Recently, I began pricing the remotes, as I could no longer resist their melody of home theatre component harmony.

This Christmas my wonderful wife bought me one.  A Logitech Harmony One.  Of all my fantastic presents she got me, the universal remote was the one I was enamored by. (Yes, I’m that guy).  That morning I took it out of the box.  The unboxing experience was similar to that of Apple.  It was packaged well and laid out to highlight the product.  Made you want to savor the experience of starting it up and seeing what it can do.  There was no huge paper of codes.  It had a CD with software for your computer and a USB cord to attach the remote to your computer.  After about 15 minutes of set up, it was done.  Everything was programmed and seemed to be working wonderfully!  Then I tried to switch to my Mac Mini.  The input on the receiver did not go to the correct input that.  It seemed that something was not programmed correctly.

To make a long story short, after some troubleshooting, I found that the software from Logitech had an issue.  My 12 year old, obscure Pioneer receiver, had 7 inputs, but the Logitech software listed 8, which resulted in the remote flipping through the inputs too far and over shooting by 1 every time.  I thought for sure this was going to result in my having to return the remote.  What company, especially one the size of Logitech was going to listen to my call to correct their software?  I even expected it.  If I was the only one complaining, why wouldn’t they assume I was doing something wrong and that their software was correct.

I sent an email through their website and less than 48 hours later I had a response.  Much to my surprise, not only did they recognize my concern as valid, but also they had gone into the software and changed the inputs to what I had said they were. They’re response to me was “plug in your remote and let it update with the new settings. Let us know if this corrects the issue.”  It did!

Wow!  Not only did they respond and meet my expectations, but they went far beyond.  They took my concern as real, investigated, corrected, and communicated.  I can now say that I’m a loyal customer of Logitech and another raving fan of their products.

Not only did they sell me what is truly a universal remote, but they sold me simplicity.  They sold me a product that allows not only me to enjoy my home theatre, but allows my wife to simply hit a single button and be able to watch a movie, listen to iTunes, watch a DVD, or record a TV show.  No need for multiple remotes, or even to know what input to set devices to.  She quite literally hits the button that says, “Listen to iTunes” or “Watch a DVD” and the remote takes it from there.  What else can I ask for?  What price will consumers pay for this product… this experience?  It’s not a remote; it’s the experience of simplicity, harmony, and organization. I can tell you that I know that feel that I got more than my money’s worth and then some.  Thank you Logitech!

**I received no compensation for this post from any parties mentioned.  I purchased and use this product personally and received no benefit in return.

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