August 23, 2006
I have a really sweet Logitech Harmony 880 remote control that I use to control all of my home theater components (HDTV, HD Cable Box, SD Cable Box, Series 2 Tivo, XBox, Denon Receiver, Sony DVD Player). The Harmony replaces all of my individual remotes and provides "activity" based control over my equipment. This makes it dead easy to do things like watch Tivo, listen to Internet radio, watch DVD's, etc, without having to know anything about how each piece of equipment works, what order it may need to be turned on in, or specific remote control functions.
Last week, unfortunately, my Harmony stopped working. I was fairly sure that the IR transmitter was shot, but I wasn't 100% sure. It wasn't until I spoke to Logitech tech support that I was reminded of a little trick for diagnosing a dead IR remote. You see, if you point a digital camera at an IR remote control, you can see the IR transmitter(s) light up via the LCD screen on the digital camera. The picture above illustrates what a typical functioning remote control's IR transmitter looks like. In the case of my Harmony, the IR transmitter was completely dead. Logitech's sending me a new remote which should be here in a few days.
One other really cool feature with the Harmony 880 is that you program it over the Internet. So, when my new remote arrives, all I need to do to set it up is to log into the Logitech web site, connect my remote via USB, and click the Update Remote button. 1 minute later, my new remote will have all of the programming of my old remote. Now that's slick!