Product Review: Page (1) of 2 - 07/12/04 Email this story to a friend. email article Print this page (Article printing at page facebook

A/V Complexity Relief

Turns setup of A/V components into a one-button process By Charlie White

Harmony Multimedia Remote SST-659Are you tired of being the only one who knows how to set up the A/V system for a presentation? Do people come to you when they want to watch a DVD, so you can configure the system for picture and sound? We've found the Harmony SST-659, a remote that will solve the problems associated with a complex A/V system, making it easy for anyone to configure the system for a presentation, DVD viewing, or anything else the A/V system can do. The most intriguing part is, this excellent remote control sets up via the Web and your computer's USB port.

When I received an invitation to review the Harmony SST-659, I wondered what yet another universal remote control could bring to the A/V community that hasn't already been tried before. But I was pleasantly surprised to see what Intrigue Technologies, a Canadian company that was just bought by Logitech a few months ago, has done by marrying a remote control to the Web.  The result of this electronic matrimony is the most useful remote for a complex audio/visual system I've seen.

Although the Harmony SST-659 originally sold for $200, it can now be found on the Web for around $120, which represents an outstanding bargain. The unit works with just about any remote-controlled device on the planet, and if your particular component isn't represented, the thing can easily learn how to control it with a bit of simple (and for me, pleasurable) tinkering. By far the best attribute of this remote is its activity-based controls. What this means is, for instance, you tell the remote you want to watch a DVD, and it sets up your system to do just that, letting you control all the functions of the DVD player, your display device, and the volume level on your receiver. In other words, it gives you one-button setup. Tell it you're going to give a presentation, and it configures your projector input, changes your audio receiver to the right input, controls your computer, and can even dim the lights if you have them set up for infrared remote control. Hit the "Watch TV" button and it changes everything around so that your cable box is the star of the show, with the projector inputs adjusted accordingly, along with audio control staying with the receiver. The thing can turn components on and off, too, and with its SST (Smart State Technology), it's intelligent enough to know if a particular component is currently on or off.  

You don't have to be a gadget geek to have fun playing with this remote, either. Load up the software on your PC or Mac, and then you're invited to Harmony's Web site (see graphic below). When you go to the Web site and sign on, and then plug the USB cable into the remote, that's when the fun starts. It's an unusual feeling to have a remote control sitting there on your desk, talking to the Web in a conversation that involves your audio/visual gear. The wizard-based Web interface asks you which components you have and how you use them, and then groups the commands into distinct activities that you'll access by pushing a single button.


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Related Keywords:Harmony SST-659, A/V system, DVD, remote control, presentation, Web, USB port, Intrigue Technologies, Logitech

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