Logitech Closes The Harmony/PS3 Loop

Long time readers will know that I am an avid proponent of getting a good universal remote to control your home theater setup. It's a lot better than a basketful of remotes and it's very likely to make a complex setup usable for somebody other than the person who did all the wiring and can say things like "I don't see the confusion. Look, the PS3 is on Component 2 on the video switcher and the audio comes in on the receiver under 'DBS 2'. What's the problem?" and then you get this Penny Arcade cartoon. So anyway, we've had a series of universal remotes for a bajillion years - I wrote a post back in January 2007 when I got my Logitech Harmony 880 remote and it still stands.

There's one fly in the ointment. Sony made the ... let's call it "awesome" decision that the PS3 would use Bluetooth for remote controls. Meaning the only remote you could get was Sony and it wouldn't control anything else. Yay. Back last February I discovered that Nyko sold an infrared remote that had a little USB dongle to plug into the PS3. Read more about that here, but the short form is that it was better than nothing but still a flawed operation.

As I understand the issue Sony was being buttheaded about licensing any component to use the Bluetooth protocols (at least that is what Logitech said. Sony being arrogant and proprietary? That's unpossible!)

Anyway, somebody finally quit playing chicken and Logitech now sells a little gizmo that is an IR receiver and a Bluetooth transmitter. You plug it into the wall, do some simple Bluetooth pairing with the PS3 and hey presto! The Harmony remote can talk to the gizmo (via IR) and the gizmo talks to the PS3 (via Bluetooth). The remote can even turn the PS3 on and off just like a real component.

I bought one and it works as advertised. It's a little pricy I suppose, but as things have developed the PS3 has become our primary DVD player as well as Blu-Ray so it is useful to make it work just like everything else. Now the only thing that won't play nice with the Harmony remote is the Wii and nobody cares about that because the Wii has no reasonable video playback use. One drawback to this solution is that gizmo will only work with a Harmony remote (it doesn't come with any remote at all and the Harmony remote gets the codes from the internet software you use to program Harmony gear) so if you wanted to use a Pronto or a Crestron automated system or whatever you'd be out in the cold. In theory if you got ahold of a Harmony remote for a few hours you could teach the commands to any learning IR remote. In my case I have a Harmony already so this works great. I don't foresee wanting something other than Harmony during the PS3 lifecycle and if something odd happens I can always use the "old" Harmony to teach the new hotness what to do.