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Brier Dudley offers a critical look at technology and business issues affecting the Northwest.

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March 24, 2008 12:43 PM

More details on Harmony, top-selling remotes

Posted by Brier Dudley

Here are a few tidbits supplementing today's column on the Harmony One remote.

Since it was released in February, the One has become Logitech's best-seller and the best-selling remote in the U.S., according to NPD data provided by the company. The top-selling remotes:

1. Logitech Harmony One
2. Logitech Harmony 890
3. Logitech Harmony 550
4. Logitech Harmony 670
5. Logitech Harmony 1000
6. Jasco 24991 Universal Remote
7. RCA RCR31
8. Philips PM435
9. Sony RMEZ4
10. Sony RMVL600

Logitech's Lloyd Klarke said Harmony spent 20,000 hours of research to come up with the One's design, particularly the usability of the buttons. A goal was to have a layout that can be memorized easily, so you don't have to glance at the thing when doing routine things like changing the channel.

That "thumb memory" doesn't work with the One's touch-screen, since you have to look before you tap it, but Klarke said the screen still adds to the usability of the device.

"We found that more and more even the words 'touch screen' are synonymous with simplicity in the customers' mind,'' he said. "It's not only perceived simplicity, it is easier to use with bright icons together with text and the very flat architecture so they can find they're way to get through to the commands they want very quickly."

I asked if the approach was influenced by the iPhone, but Klarke said design work on the One started before Apple's phone came out. He didn't say it, but it seems like a bigger influence was the shiny black plastic style of consumer electronics that you also see in Sony's PlayStation 3 and Hewlett-Packard's last generation of consumer PCs.

Klarke said the company isn't likely to use Windows Sideshow anytime soon on its remotes. The Vista information-sharing feature is the basis of new Media Center remotes such as Ricavision's new Vave 100. Klarke said "it's something we're watching" but it's "only applicable when someone uses a Media Center inside the living room connected to their television."

An alternative remote for those who have taken the plunge with a Media Center PC is the DiNovo Mini wireless keyboard that debuted at CES alongside the One and went on sale a few weeks ago. The $149 gadget is a palm-sized remote with media controls and a flip-top cover.

Here are a few pictures of the DiNovo Mini, which I may have to compare with Microsoft's entertainment keyboards one of the days:

DiNovo - orange.jpg DiNovo Mini Hand2.jpg

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Gadgets and games | Fun stuff I've written about lately includes Apple's iPhone, Hewlett-Packard's HDX laptop and Microsoft's Halo3. Also on the radar are new digital video boxes such as the Tivo HD and the Vudu.