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Harmony Remotes: Are they all THAT?!


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21 replies to this topic

#1 of 22 OFFLINE   Ronald Epstein

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Posted June 03 2005 - 09:22 AM

So I have had a Philips Pronto for the
past 5+ years. It's the original monochrome
model. Still works well, but I have to be honest,
it's a pain-in-the-ass when you buy new components.

I mean, have you ever tried putting in menu
designs for these Prontos? In the old days it used
to be cool to sit and custom design your own menus.
Today? Who has time.

So I keep hearing about these Harmony remotes.
Seems you guys love 'em...or at least, going back a
year ago these remotes were hot shit!

With the recent purchase of a new Tivo PVR and
a new DVD recorder I felt it was time to put all
the remote commands under one big roof.

I noticed that Harmony remotes are now under
ownership from Logitech. That's interesting. Went
to their site and saw the popular 688 remote.

But wait! They just released a 880 remote.

What do I buy?

Furthermore, will this remote have enough buttons
for even the most complex Tivo remote?

Really would like your opinions on these remotes
and perhaps even something better to purchase for
a little more or a little less.

Thanks

 

Ronald J Epstein
Home Theater Forum co-owner

 

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#2 of 22 OFFLINE   Allen Hirsch

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Posted June 03 2005 - 09:36 AM

Ron: I too had a Pronto. Spent months programming it to get everything the way I wanted 5 years ago. Wouldn't DREAM of spending that time now.

When I got new components (including DVRs), the BEST purchase I made eventually was three Harmony 688s (any of the 600 series and the new 880 I believe will do the same things - only difference is price, button configuration, and "feel").

I originally got one for the family room HT. My wife said after using it, "you're gonna get one for these for ALL our systems, right?", because it works so well and easily, from her perspective.

The 2nd and 3rd ones I set up in less than 10 minutes. I've changed/added components on 2 of the 3 systems since. Still took less than 10 minutes to reconfigure perfectly.

The price is well worth it on these, b/c you get good tech help via phone if the online setup or your configuration doesn't work for some strange reason.

Best added bargain: my original DVR remotes did not have the 30-sec. skip button and weren't programmable for it. ALL my Harmonys have it when I watch TV via the DVR!
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#3 of 22 OFFLINE   Ronald Epstein

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Posted June 03 2005 - 10:22 AM

Allen,

You got me drooling here.

The tough part is deciding WHICH ONE?!

I would *guess* the 880 would be the way to go.

 

Ronald J Epstein
Home Theater Forum co-owner

 

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#4 of 22 OFFLINE   Ronald Epstein

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Posted June 03 2005 - 10:44 AM

Did it! Ordered an 880 from JandR.com for $249

They will be in stock shortly.

Just punched up Harmony 880 reviews in GOOGLE
and spent 30 minutes reading some really incredible
raves about this remote.

Thanks Allen!

 

Ronald J Epstein
Home Theater Forum co-owner

 

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#5 of 22 OFFLINE   Allen Hirsch

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Posted June 03 2005 - 02:48 PM

Congrats, Ron.

I think you'll be amazed at how well it works, and how easy it is to setup, once you figure out terminology and the drop-down menus of online programming.

If you don't need the color screen (which is the main feature of the 880, I think) - the 600 series can be had for ~$100-$150 online, if you price-shop a little (retail stores still ask ~$249 for the 600 series, too).
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#6 of 22 OFFLINE   Alf S

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Posted June 03 2005 - 02:56 PM

I got my parents the 676 and it's been GREAT! Love using their website to create and edit the buttons. They use it to operate a Mitsu 52725 DLP, Cox HD DVR, and RCA DVD player.

I HATE the layout and feel of the 688..they seemed to be more worried about style over function on that one.

The 880 looks cool (I bet it's a battery eater with all those color screens though!!) but again, I'm not a fan of the button look and potential feel of the 880 based on it's pics..buttons look to crammed together and all one layer...plus that god aweful horseshoe design on the other Tivo, recorder funtions (stop, playe etc)..Seems it would be a booger to operate in the dark unless you alwasy turn on it's light.

For half the price the 676 did EVERYTHING we'd ever need and every single button was in it's place and easy to find without looking down much at all.

I'm sure you'll get used to the 880 and hopefully learn t love it's layout. Me, I'm more of a simple tacticle remote feel guy.

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#7 of 22 OFFLINE   Ronald Epstein

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Posted June 03 2005 - 09:46 PM

Mein Got!

If you guys want to do a little
drooling on your keyboard, I suggest
you read Tom's Hardware Review
of the Harmony 880.

I never owned one of these remotes before,
but Holy Moley, this baby looks awesome.
I love the way you program everything through
the Internet. I am certain that after owning
this remote I'll wonder why I ever used a Pronto.

 

Ronald J Epstein
Home Theater Forum co-owner

 

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#8 of 22 OFFLINE   Bryce_H

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Posted June 04 2005 - 01:15 AM

I just bought a 676 last weekend at a Soundtrack closing for $99 - new and unopened. Will have my basement HT done next weekend and can't wait to use it. They had the 688, but I agree with Alf, and didn't like the button layout.
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#9 of 22 OFFLINE   Bob McElfresh

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Posted June 04 2005 - 08:28 AM

I dont think my family would ever accept a new remote unless it clearly had dedicated skip-forward/back buttons for the PVR.

I just read this blurb about the 688:

Quote:
Simply select an activity and your Harmony 688 Remote will analyze the state of your entertainment system and then send the right commands to make each component do exactly what you want.

Having a dumb remote not know/remember the state of each device has long been a problem. I gotta check this unit out.

#10 of 22 OFFLINE   Dave Miller

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Posted June 05 2005 - 03:53 AM

Quote:
Having a dumb remote not know/remember the state of each device has long been a problem.

That really is the brilliance of the Harmony remotes. I didn't know that and when I got it I was trying to add all these extra "Power On/Off" discrete signals. Finally, when I contacted customer support (awesome, btw), the guy said, "That is really not necessary b/c the remote knows what's on and off." :b

I was really making it harder than it needed to be. It is an amazingly simple remote. And the help button is a beautiful feature. It seems like in the rare instance a signal doesn't send correctly, then it will be when I'm not home and my wife is using it. The help button walks her through it to correct whatever is not right.

Kudos to the Harmony engineers who obviously must be married. Posted Image

Peace,

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#11 of 22 OFFLINE   Scott Merryfield

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Posted June 06 2005 - 12:38 AM

I've owned a Harmony 659 for about 18 months now, and absolutely love the device. My previous universal remote, a Marantz RC2000 MKII, had reached the point where it was cumbersome to use due to all the devices comprising our HT. I really didn't want to invest a lot of time customizing a Pronto remote, so the Harmony ended up being my choice.

The remote is very easy to setup and use, yet is powerful enough to control our setup -- receiver, 16x9 TV, HD cable TV box, DVD player, DVD recorder, SACD/CD player, OTA HD tuner (which I no longer use), and Sony miniDV camcorder. Even my technology challenged parents were able to figure out how to use the setup without any instructions when they were visiting over the holidays.

Ron, I hope you enjoy your Harmony remote as much as I enjoy ours.

#12 of 22 OFFLINE   Ted Lee

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Posted June 06 2005 - 07:29 AM

Quote:
Having a dumb remote not know/remember the state of each device has long been a problem. I gotta check this unit out.
i had the 659 for a while, but i don't recall it actually "remembering" the state of each device ... instead i thought it just toggled the state ... but i'm not sure now.

i loved it's ease of setup (especially discrete codes/punch through commands, etc), but i didn't like how you had to scroll through all the screens to get to the function i wanted. plus the buttons were just too small for me.

but i gave it to my friend ... she loves it!
 

#13 of 22 OFFLINE   Scott Merryfield

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Posted June 06 2005 - 01:39 PM

Quote:
i had the 659 for a while, but i don't recall it actually "remembering" the state of each device ... instead i thought it just toggled the state ... but i'm not sure now.

The 659 (and all other Harmony remotes) do in fact "remember" which components are on/off, as well as which input has been selected on your receiver, TV, etc. If your system somehow gets out of synch with the remote (because you pointed it away from your system, lost power, etc.), there is a HELP button that will walk through each component's status, asking whether it's on or off, and making the appropriate adjustments.

#14 of 22 OFFLINE   Michael.M.C

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Posted June 08 2005 - 12:16 AM

I have the 659 and may buy the new 880 when the price comes down a bit

The only thing I don't like about my 659 is that in the months I have owned it it has twice lost its memory causing me to have the regular remotes at hand. I had to go back to the Harmony/Logitech site to reprogram then all was well again.

#15 of 22 OFFLINE   Kevin T

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Posted June 08 2005 - 04:29 AM

anybody have a link to a .pdf 880 manual. i tried finding it on the logitech site, but had no luck. thanks.

kevin t
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#16 of 22 OFFLINE   Dean_S

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Posted June 09 2005 - 03:33 AM

I have the 688 and I plan to get a 880 and move the 688 to my other system to replace the HTM MX-500. As far as the button layout on the 688 goes, it's not bad once you use it for a few days and get used to it. The 880 looks much better in this regard but I'm waiting for a price drop before I get it.

#17 of 22 OFFLINE   Adil M

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Posted June 09 2005 - 01:27 PM

Harmony 880 is an excellent choice. Very simple and my choice for HT novices and pros alike.
The only other consideration would have been something like the Home Theater Master MX650 or 850, a little more technical.

#18 of 22 OFFLINE   Alf S

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Posted June 10 2005 - 07:03 AM

Thanks to a quick Yahoo search for "harmony 880 manual"...

880
WOOSAH!.

 


#19 of 22 OFFLINE   Kevin T

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Posted June 10 2005 - 07:23 AM

gordon shumway rules!

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#20 of 22 OFFLINE   Alf S

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Posted June 10 2005 - 07:53 AM

Many thanks...

"Here kitty kitty"
WOOSAH!.

 



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