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MX-500, MX-700 or Harmony 659?


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33 replies to this topic

#1 of 34 OFFLINE   Dave-Z

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Posted December 28 2003 - 04:00 PM

Hi folks

After reading for the past two nights just about everything I could find on an innumerable amount of remote controls, I've narrowed it down to the three mentioned in the title.

I'm leaning rather strongly towards the Harmony at the moment, but figured I'd ask about before I place my order tomorrow. I'd love to hear what you all might think along these lines, especially if you have personal experience. Following will be my analysis thus far, and please feel free to correct me, advise, etc... Would love to get this right the first time.

As far as pricing goes, I've found deals that put the MX-500 and Harmony 659 at about the same range, with the MX-700 a good bit more. My budget conforms a great deal more towards the former, but if their is sufficient response regarding the 700, I might be willing to go the extra mile.

As with all things, remotes especially, it's near impossible to find something with everything I might want. (one thing I do want is a lot of hard buttons, don't care for touch screen)

My three main concerns would be (1)device compatibility(being able to learn most any device either via hard remote to remote or downloading codes. (2) Vision: Will this remote still be functional 2, 3 5 years down the road... (3) Ergonomics and ease of use(broad category here, and also where it gets tricky making the final choice.

MX-500: The way I currently see it, the main downside to the MX-500 is the lack of internet connectivity, thereby allowing, or not in this case, for future upgradability. It's a darn shame too, as I think it's brightest spot is it's 10 user defined button capability. The lack of being able to learn codes down the line that aren't already in the unit pretty much disqualifies it for me in the end. I know there is the cable connect with ir attachment, but I don't know how effective it might be, nor what support it will receive a year or two down the line.

MX-700:This seems to be the ideal remote from many respects. Internet capable, nice design. Don't see too much of a downside, but I also haven't seen as much in the way of reading material for research as the other two here. The only thing keeping me from going this route is the added expense. I've seen an open box price that is quite enticing, but still ends up being close to a C-note above the other two.

Harmony SST-659:Highly rated professional and user reviews. The database(slightly suspect as it's a user shared database) seems incredibly large. The response with regards to company support is a resounding thumbs up. They really seem to be putting there utmost into constantly improving their products, which bodes extremely well for future use. The thing that really makes me cringe are two in number. First, there are only 4 user buttons available per screen for defined buttons. Second having to do directly with the first is the fact that in the reviews, it's said that in order to perhaps go back to a previous screen, you have to start all the way at the beginning to the device. I really don't like the sound of that. I lean towards the hope that with such strong company support, they will come up with an upgrade that will change this. btw, I simple love the backlighting on this remote. One other downside is the fact that while the ergonomic design is great when being held in the hand, I was always irritated by my TiVo remote when it came to just trying to press a side button while the remote was sitting on the table. It always wanted to(and did) tip over.

So, that's where I stand and see things right now. Seems even with a little trepidation that the Harmony remote is the best bang for the buck, along with long-term use capabilities. I'd really love to hear what you folks might think.

Thanks so much for your help!

#2 of 34 OFFLINE   PaulT

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Posted December 28 2003 - 10:14 PM

I can only comment on the MX-500, one of which I have owned for over a year now.

Lack of Internet connectivity - doesn't bother me, I have 'learned' the functions of all my other remotes rather than relying on the internal device codes. No matter what type of remote you go with, there will be some limitations or perhaps limited functionality on 'built in' codes, even if downloaded from the net like the Harmony. If you learn your own, then you have 'all' the functions (only limited by the amount of buttons available on the remote), not 'most'.

Perhaps you are mistaking learning the codes (or downloading the codes) from the net which as you say the MX-500 does not do, with 'learning the IR pulse directly from one remote to another', which the MX-500 can do quite easily.

The IR box and cable you speak of (IR-Clone) is for backing up your remote to your PC and/or changing the remotes layout on the PC and uploading it back to the MX-500 rather than going through all of the button presses on the remote itself.

I've looked at the 700 as a second remote, but have decided that another 500 will give me everything I require (basically limited to 10 devices, I haven't required any macros that the 500 cannot handle as of yet). I will be purchasing an IR Clone device as setting up the labels and buttons and Macros on any remote itself is quite time consuming.

One of the best things I can tell you is my wife was overjoyed to get rid of 7 remotes from the coffee table, and once she got over the initial learning curve would not give up the MX-500 for anything (well, almost anything Posted Image ).
"One of the problems of taking things apart and seeing how they work--supposing you're trying to find out how a cat works--you take that cat apart to see how it works, what you've got in your hands is a non-working cat." -- Douglas Adams

#3 of 34 OFFLINE   Scott Merryfield

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Posted December 29 2003 - 01:54 AM

I recently replaced my 4-5 year old Marantz RC2000MKII with a Harmony SST-659. The Marantz is similar in functionality to the MX-500.

For my needs, the 659 is a major improvement over the Marantz. It is very flexible and powerful, yet extremely simple for a novice to use. As for the online database being "user shared", I'm not sure what that means, but I have only had to "re-teach" two commands to the 659 that were defined in the database for my seven components. I also needed to teach it a few IR commands that were not in the database, but the procedure it quite simple.

I thought I would be bothered by only having four user-defined buttons per screen, but I have found that I need far fewer of these with the 659 than with my old Marantz. There are two other user-defined menus -- SOUND and PICTURE -- that are used for TV and receiver/processor commands that are common across all components (such as aspect control for your TV, sound processing modes for your receiver, etc.). This, along with hard buttons for most of the common commands (menu, guide, info, prev/ch, etc.), means that I have not needed more than two screens of user-defined commands for any activity. In fact, most of my activities only required a single page of such commands.

This remote meets my needs very well, and my wife loves its simplicity. Even with the macros I had setup with the Marantz, she still never felt comfortable doing anything more than turning the system on/off for watching TV.

#4 of 34 OFFLINE   David_AD

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Posted December 29 2003 - 02:59 AM

I have owned an MX-800 for about 4 months -- I love it! I've had about 8 different remotes in the last several years and this is the best I've found. I like the hard buttons, the ease with macros can be customized, and the overall feel of the remote.

The MX-700 is the same except for RF and I would highly recommend it. It was great programing it via the PC based software (I use Macs so I had to load VirtualPC) I have it programed so that I press the device button it takes me to the devices remote, however, if I press and hold for .7 sec, it sets my entire system up to watch a DVD, VHS, PS2, whatever. I also have my lights programed into my MX-800 using IR. In addition, it's very easy for other family members to learn and use.

Even though the MX-500 will do most everything the MX-700 will -- once it's programed-- I think the programing software makes the difference worth the price.

#5 of 34 OFFLINE   AlexanderS

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Posted December 29 2003 - 04:14 AM

Ive got the MX-500 for almost 3 months now. Its a great remote. It real easy to set up and learn new commands too. There is no limit to the amount of commands you can teach it, all you need is your original remote. Don't worry about that. I do find that others have some trouble using. For this reason, Im going to give the Harmony a try. I think that it might be set up a bit better for novices to use. If you have a family, it might be a better option.

#6 of 34 OFFLINE   Dave-Z

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Posted December 29 2003 - 05:25 AM

Thanks everyone for your replies.

Two things of note, one is that I need this new remote to be able to control an older denon receiver, avr-1700, to which I lost the original remote. One of the bigger reasons for either a phenomenal built in database, or on-line capability to run legacy products down the line. Not to mention, it's always a good thing to be able to grab codes from the internet. Never know when one of your current remotes might malfunction, have a button go bad, etc... and the only way to get it working again is through a database or order a(usually very expensive) replacement remote.

Second, I'm single, hence no finicky female to have to 'electronically dumb down' for. Not to be nasty, just the truth, most women just don't give a rat's arse if your remote can control the orbit of the moon as well as the TV if it means they have to spend any time actually studying it a bit.

So, complicated remotes are just fine, although logical is still a necessity.

Guess I'm still leaning towards the Harmony at this point. Again, thanks for your input and replies.

#7 of 34 OFFLINE   Brian Schucher

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Posted December 29 2003 - 12:24 PM

MX700 all the way. The PC interface is a HUGE help over the MX500 which i also love but to me the puter programming is worth every penny..

#8 of 34 OFFLINE   ChipH

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Posted December 30 2003 - 10:01 AM

There is a computer programing option available for the MX500. It is available at irclone.com
I have been using it for over a year and am very happy with it. There are also utilities that you can use with IRClone to allow you to use Pronto ccf codes and other user files are posted at Remote Central.
I like my MX500 so much that I have 3! Wife likes it too.

#9 of 34 OFFLINE   AlexanderS

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Posted December 31 2003 - 05:01 AM

In case anyone is curious, Best Buy has the Harmony 659 online. This is a better option for trying out the remote because you can just return it to a B&M store and not get stuck with shipping it back. If you like it, return it anyways and then order from Surf or Bluedo.

#10 of 34 OFFLINE   Scott Merryfield

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Posted December 31 2003 - 05:56 AM

Best Buy's price for the Harmony SST-659 is very high. It can be found from authorized online dealers who offer a 30 day return policy for less than $150.

Quote:
If you like it, return it anyways and then order from Surf or Bluedo.

Not real ethical, IMO.

#11 of 34 OFFLINE   AlexanderS

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Posted December 31 2003 - 01:27 PM

I don't see how that is unethical. They provide a 30 day money back guarantee. You can return your item for any reason. Returning it for either A) You found it online cheaper or B) You didn't like it, both methods are well within your moral rights. As long as you don't break it, there's nothing wrong with taking it home for a test spin.

#12 of 34 OFFLINE   Scott Merryfield

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Posted January 01 2004 - 02:15 AM

Sorry, but I do not agree. Using a store as your personal "test drive" facility when you have absolutely no intention of keeping the product is not ethical, IMO. Stores offer liberal return policies in hopes of getting some sale from the customer, either for the original purchase or for one in an exchange. If everyone only went to a brick & mortar to test drive products, return them and then order the same product online, these generous return policies would completely disappear or the store would go out of business.

If you are not sure whether you will like a product, but prefer to purchase online, there are plenty of online stores that offer return or exchange policies. Why screw a store that you have no intention of giving your business to?

Just because something is legal does not make it ethical.

#13 of 34 OFFLINE   AlexanderS

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Posted January 01 2004 - 05:12 AM

I hate to break it to you Scott, and knock you off your moral high-ground, but most people who shop online only shop at B&M's for 2 reasons. Either to get some great deal they can't find online or to try out products without having to worry about shipping. This goes on everyday despite notions to the contrary. Now for the everyday layman, yes this might seem disingenuous but for most people savvy enough to get a good deal, this really is commonplace.

#14 of 34 OFFLINE   Scott Merryfield

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Posted January 01 2004 - 08:45 AM

Just because you and a few others shop that way, do not assume that "most people who shop online" do so. I purchase many items online and have never resorted to such tactics. I also have many friends, family and colleagues who shop online, and none resort to using brick & mortar stores as freebie test drive facilities. This topic has also come up numerous times in other threads on this forum, and you will find that my opinion is very much part of the majority around here on this matter.

Just because some people do something does not make it right.

That being said, this thread has certainlt drifted way off topic, so I'll leave it alone from here.

#15 of 34 OFFLINE   AlexanderS

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Posted January 01 2004 - 10:38 AM

This obviously isn't getting anywhere and Im sure your never going to see my point of view. Ill just say again that there isn't anything wrong with buying a product and taking it home just to try it out. If you feel that this is wrong so be it, but morality is very much in the eye of the beholder.

#16 of 34 OFFLINE   Stephen Tu

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Posted January 01 2004 - 12:01 PM

We see nothing wrong with trying a product out and returning it if you end up not liking it. But using a brick & mortar as a test gear supplier when you never had any intention of ever letting them keep your money is not treating that store fairly. You are receiving a service from them, but they never get compensation. B&Ms have to charge more than online because they have to provide the facility to display the product for you & the chance to try it out (which they often have to sell discounted as "open box" if returned). You are forcing the B&M to provide a storefront for the online store, but they aren't getting any of the proceeds.

If you are unsure whether you want to keep a product, and want the right to easily return it, you should be willing to play the B&M premium for it.

#17 of 34 OFFLINE   AlexanderS

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Posted January 01 2004 - 04:41 PM

Of course your willing. Maybe, you might even decide to keep it. All Im saying is that its not immoral to do it. Thats all.

#18 of 34 OFFLINE   Dave-Z

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Posted January 02 2004 - 08:41 AM

ok folks. Enough now. You've hi-jacked a decent thread. Getting annoyed checking responses only to find this off-topic jabbering.

If you feel the need, PM each other. Otherwise, please post on topic, or not at all.

#19 of 34 OFFLINE   AlexanderS

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Posted January 02 2004 - 01:27 PM

Sorry to take up so much of your time. I hope you can find it in your heart to forgive us.

#20 of 34 OFFLINE   Mike Boniferro

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Posted January 03 2004 - 02:23 AM

Dave, have you made a final decision on your remote purchase yet?