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Universal remotes with large, PDA-style touch screens

Tablet-style universal remotes have square, PDA-style cases and big color touch screens. They typically come with extra features like charging cradles, macro functionality and customizable commands, which makes them more expensive than most wand-style remotes. They are also bigger and heavier than the slimmer wand remotes. This type of remote was originally pioneered by Philips with its line of Pronto universal remote controls, but that line was discontinued in November 2010. That leaves the Logitech Harmony 1100 (*Est. $250) as the best current touch-screen remote control.

The Logitech Harmony 1100 has a 3.5-inch color touch screen and one-touch activity controls, and it can control up to 15 devices. The lithium-ion battery is recharged with the included charging station. Like all Harmony remotes, the Logitech Harmony 1100 universal remote has a computer-based setup that requires the included USB cable. It uses infrared technology, but you can add radio frequency functionality with the optional Harmony RF Wireless Extender (*Est. $75).

The Logitech Harmony 1100 gets an excellent rating from CNET, and David Carnoy finds it relatively easy to set up and use, although you have to scroll through multiple screens to reach some functions. Danny Phillips at TrustedReviews.com also gives it high marks, saying it's the most user-friendly Harmony remote he's tested. User reviews are largely positive, with happy owners raving about the control it gives them over their home theater. The high price and inability to create custom macros are the biggest drawbacks among those who are less pleased. The Logitech Harmony 1100 allows you to program several preset functions, like "watch TV" or "play music," but you can't create your own customized activity sequence. The wide frame is said to be easy to grasp, but the glossy black coating attracts fingerprints and smudges. Some find the setup a little overwhelming, and some reviewers are annoyed that they can't transfer their settings from an older Logitech Harmony remote.

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