If you've lost your TV remote and are looking for a replacement then this is probably not the handset for you, sure it has a huge database of devices it can control, but frankly if that's all you're after then you probably want something that works out of the box and that is not the case with this.
If on the other hand you have a pile of remotes to control up to 15 devices and a partner who is always complaining that they can't use the home cinema then this is the perfect device for you. The Harmony 555 will replace up to fifteen remotes and has a library of over 10,000 devices, these are set up using a simple web based interface and then downloaded to the handset via USB, between the comprehensive but uncluttered key layout and paging 4-way soft button screen all original functions are avaliable, infact functions such as direct access to specific inputs and screen ratios were avaliable from this device which are not on the original remote! Key and softkey setups are fully customisable within the software.
The really clever bit though is the 'Activities' based organisation of features, by setting up an activity the Harmony remote takes away the necessity to understand how a complex home theatre is set up inorder to access it's functions, when an activity is selected the 555 will switch on all the required componants (and switch off unneccessary ones that are on) and switch to a seperate, customisable control set specifically for that activity. All the functions for all the active componants are selectable and activity specific macros can be configured saving the necessity of switching between 'devices', for example in a 'Watch Television' activity the remote can turn on TV, AV receiver, Sky box and HDD recorder automatically, set the inputs for all devices (even where multiple source switches are used) and switch to a control set in which the volume and mute buttons control the amplifier, the colour buttons control Sky and FF/RW/Skip/Pause/Play/Stop buttons control the HDD recorder and all the options for the Sky program guide and TV picture functions are avaliable on soft buttons meaning that the user doesn't have to know what device is used for what function, the process is completely transparent, select 'Watch DVD' and the HDD and Sky turn off, the inputs on TV and Amplifier changed and the Play/Pause/Rew etc keys remapped to control the DVD player, no searching for remotes or switching devices required.
Naturally, this kind of simplicity in use indicates a great deal of sophistication in the setup and you do need to be methodical and have a good understanding of your home theatre system. Setting up this device is not a short job, the basics can be done in 20mins, but if you have a reasonably complex setup expect to spend several hours as you start to realise how powerful it can be and decide to ad more and more features.
Construction is good, styling is expensive and hi tec in appearence and the device feels well made although it does have a slight flex when pressing buttons at the far end. The buttons themselves are responsive and the matt grip finish on the underside is highly tactile.
In conclusion, this is the best universal remote I have ever tried, the activity based arrangement is hugely successful removing the necessity to switch between devices and meaning that the user only has to know what they want to do, not what devices and settings they need. In the past mutli device remotes have always been a compromise with convenience compromised to reduce the clutter, this is not the case here and for once I won't be keeping the originals closely to hand.