I love my Logitech Harmony remote

Last year the welcome screen on the TiVo was about this fancy-pants remote called the Harmony remote, made by Logitech. They had a little video about it, and then said “go to our website and enter to win a Harmony remote!”. So I went to the TiVo site and entered to win, and then promptly forgot all about it. A few months later the remote arrives in the mail. Congratulations to me! (It retailed at the time for $199, though this particular model can now be had for $99 from Amazon.com ). I didn’t have all of my stuff set up so I didn’t unbox it at that time, and it kind of got forgotten.

When I bought my house and moved all my stuff and actually set up my entertainment system, I went to get the remote but couldn’t remember which box it was in. Actually, I did remember, I just didn’t realize that the box was as deep as it was–because my boyfriend found the thing at the bottom of a box I’d already looked in several times. It was under some stuff which I had thought was the stuff at the bottom of the box. DOH.

The point of this, though, is that a few weeks ago I finally got this fancy remote all set up and I’m so hooked on it! The gist of it is like this:

You go into a web-based program on your computer and enter in all the stuff you have, by model number. Then you set up “activities” that you do, such as “watch a DVD” or “Listen to CD Jukebox*”. The program walks you through something like this: “to watch a dvd do you use your…” and then it lists your tvs (long list of one for me) and you select. Then it asks what you use to control the volume (tv or receiver in my case) and so on. Then you plug in the remote via a USB cable and it programs your remote. You can also fine-tune things by reassigning any task to any button. I mean ANY button. You can even do something like make the 3 button really an 8 and the 6 be rewind and the rewind button be pause… you have total control. And if you need more functions, you can add them to the remote’s on-screen menu, which you can have pages and pages of if you need to. Any functions that aren’t listed can be learned from the device’s remote by pointing the remotes at each other and hitting the applicable button. Oh, and when you’re setting it up, it will have some options in bold and say “(recommended)” because since it is web-based, it learns from other people’s setups and can guess pretty accurately how yours should be configured. Most of the configuration process for me just involved hitting “next” a bunch of times and not actually making any changes.

The end result is this:

I want to watch TV, so I press the activity button at the top of the remote that has the picture of the TV on it. The remote sends out a signal that turns on my tv, turns on my receiver, and sets the receiver input to “video 2”. I just pushed one button. At this point, my remote’s buttons control various things. Buttons related to things like brightness or whatever are sent to the TV. Volume related buttons send signals to the receiver. Fast-forward, pause, up/down/left/right/enter etc all go to the DirecTiVo box, and there are all the TiVo-specific commands as well.

The “Off” button turns off every component all at once, unless you’ve programmed it to leave certain things on all the time, which you can do if you like.

Now I want to watch a DVD. I press the activity button with the little movie icon on it. The remote turns on the DVD player, TV, and the receiver, and sets the receiver to “DVD” input. Volume-related buttons control the receiver. play/stop/ffd/pause and navigation, etc go to the DVD player.

Oh, but it’s a DVD recorder, and I want to record a show from my TiVo! Well I set up an additional custom activity for that, “Record a DVD” because I use different commands. When I choose this activity (there is no button for it, I have to go to alllll the effort of clicking the “other activity” button and choosing it from a list on-screen) the remote turns on the same stuff as for the “watch a DVD” activity, but sets the DVD input to Input2 as well, and the buttons function differently. Record/Stop and some other buttons send commands to the DVD recorder, but Fast forward, rewind, etc go to the TiVo instead. There are also buttons for things like “set chapter mark” and “recording options” and other things that I wouldn’t use if I was just watching a DVD.

The most complicated activity we have is “play a game”, which causes the remote to turn on the TV, turn on the receiver and set the input to “VCR”, turn on the VCR and set its input to “2” and turn on the Playstation2. Our PS2 goes through the VCR, you see.

The remote could also control various computer things, if I had them, or even those systems you can install in your house to control your lights and so on. It is endlessly configurable and ridiculously simple to use once it’s programmed. And it’s so easy to program with the software… I’m totally hooked. All of my other remotes are now in a drawer. I showed it to my 10-year-old son, and it took him all of 30 seconds to completely understand and be an expert with using the new remote for pretty much everything. It’s that intuitive.

Anyway, mine is the Harmony 676, but there are a bunch of them, with several even fancier than mine (with much fancier price tags, natch). I’d never own the thing if I hadn’t won it, but I highly recommend it for anyone who has a lot of components or has to swap between several remotes to use their entertainment system.
*which Jonathan Chance gave me when he moved to Ohio–thanks JC!!–but which I’d never been able to use until now because I had misplaced the (totally necessary) remote!!

Wow, that sounds very cool … and like something my father could use! Now I just have to decide whether he gets one first or I get one first. :wink:

We’ve had ours for a little over a year now. Love it.

The one additiional thing I wish it’d do, and maybe it can but I’ve just not figured it out, is to select the stereo receiver’s specific sound styles to the different TV channels… THX for movie channels, 7 channel or Concert Hall for music channels, etc.

Other than that, it’s one button heaven.

I got a 676 a week ago, and I guess I’ve just got some wierd stuff that it has problems with.

It took two or three update cycles for it to finally put gude page up/down functions onto the A/B buttons at the center of the keypad to run my DishPlayer 508 (a satellite receiver with PVR built in) and there’s just no good button to assign “PVR” to (this opens a menu of all the shows that are on the drive)

There are three buttons you just can’t change - Sound, Pic and Media. Sound and Pic are dedicated sub-menu type buttons, and I have no idea what Media is for. I’d love to be able to use that for the PVR function.

I’m still having trouble begging it to drive my old (about 14 years old) Onkyo amp’s volume properly - it sends out these microscopic nudges and doesn’t seem to have the ability to hold the volume up/down button and run the volume up or down like my geriatric Marantz RC2000 did. It’s almost enough to make me want to get a new amp that’s in the database. Almost - I’ve got better places to spend $700. I’m going to try teaching it the volume commands from the original remote, and if that doesn’t help, I’ll call the tech support folks.

On the other hand, it knows what a Squeezebox is with no problems.

So far, I’d give it a 4 out of 5 rating. The concept is slick, but until it does the volume properly and until they make it so truly every button other than the top-most ones (activities, Off, Help and Next) are programmable, I’m witholding the final star.

Oh, if you have a new Mac with an Intel processor, this just won’t work at all, and you’ll have to find a Windows PC or PowerPC-driven Mac to install the software on.

I’ve heard ravingly good reviews about their tech support, btw, including one person with a really hard problem who had tech support do the programming for them on their end (remember the software is connected online) and then they just told it to update the remote.

If anyone wants one after reading this thread, Dell Home is currently selling the Harmony 880, the high-end model, for $110. More info here.

Normal retail is $250 and Amazon has it for $180, so $110 is a damned nice price. Probably gonna sell out soon, so hurry if you want one.

And no, I’m not affiliated with any of the above companies.

I got a Harmony 688 a couple of months ago, and it’s absolutely fantastic. The software on the PC was flaky, and I had to contact tech support about that, but the remote itself works like a charm. And its IR flasher is very powerful, using multiple LEDs. My equipment is in the back of the room, with a projector on the ceiling. I was about to install an IR repeater system So I could control it all by aiming the remote at the screen, but I found I don’t have to. The remote is so powerful that all I have to do is aim it at the screen and it manages to flash everything with reflected light. To the screen and back to the end of the room is 30’, so that’s really impressive.

I added a Playstation 2 to my equipment rack this week, and setting up the remote to add a “Play PS2 games” action and control the box took about 15 minutes. Works like a charm.

THANK YOU! I just ordered one, and used that coupon. :smiley:

I didn’t get the 2% off when I used my Dell Preferred Account, but after the rebate the remote will only wind up costing $116 (including tax; shipping is free). An excellent deal for this remote … I can’t wait until it arrives!

Sweet! My boyfriend and his brothers are getting one for their dad for Father’s Day and I just sent them that link in case they want to get the fancier one. Way cool.

I would do the same thing except I already bought my dad one (the same as mine). His birthday is July 1, so it’s a combination Father’s Day/Birthday present, which is the only way I can justify the cost.

We have a 676. We’ve had it for about 6 months now. I’m not a huge fan of the web based programming software. The center ring around the OK button is a bit flaky, but otherwise the remote is great.

It’s a good idea to keep some batteries on hand. Our first set lasted about 4-5 months.

Yeah the ring around the OK button isn’t as comfortable as the nav buttons on my TiVo remote, but it works ok, at least on mine.

Here’s a question: I seem to recall that my father has lost one or more of the remotes in his living room. Does the Harmony need them for programming, or can it find that info on the web?

You don’t need the old remotes unless you want to program specific functions that it can’t find for itself. I only needed to do this for one thing, and that was the “options” button on my DVD recorder. I don’t have the remotes for my TV, receiver, or my CD changer, and it figured those out just fine. It also knew all the specialized functions for my TiVo without needing remotes.

Damn it, I just ordered the OP’s model based on this thread and then there’s a sale on the better one! Oh well. I hope I love it.

The “better one” probably doesn’t have all that much more functionality. I have read the descriptions for most of the higher level ones and they have features such as having a color display rather than black and white, or being rechargeable, or using something other than infrared, or being able to control more esoteric devices which I don’t own anyway. The chances are, the 676 will do everything you need it to do.

Great, thanks! I’m checking with my brother to make sure Dad didn’t recently buy himself a universal remote or something, and will most likely order one for him today. :slight_smile:

I hope so. Their comparison chart wasn’t really enlightening - they pretty much all had all the dots in the same categories! I’m excited, though - I haven’t used a universal before because the last ones I tried, years ago, were so hard to program and weren’t really helpful anyway.

The 676 was getting a lot of love in the Amazon user reviews when I ordered mine, more than the “higher end” models. Like I said, my two complaints would be that you have to use a web interface (and be online) to program it and that the arrow ring doesn’t work as well as the one on my DVR’s remote.

That said, it does a great job of combining many functions on to one remote. It’s so nice to just press one button to turn everything on and to the right input/output/etc.

Well, also, I might want it to be red or blue, to go with my, er, decor. Yeah.

Moving thread from IMHO to MPSIMS.