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HTF REVIEW: Harmony 880 Remote

Hardware Review

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109 replies to this topic

#21 of 110 OFFLINE   JeremyErwin

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Posted June 25 2005 - 05:33 AM

How many bytes does it take to store a disc title? I don't have a jukebox, so I'll just snag a example from my TV listings.

"Great Performances" is 18 bytes, and occupies the whole of the screen.

log2(400) = 8.6439 bits.

So, that's another 2 bytes.

20 bytes*400= 8K.

Of curse, that's assuming that the jukebox doesn't support track titles. It may. 99 tracks of 18 bytes each plus an index would balloon each record to

20 bytes+ 99*(18+1)= 1901 bytes*400 =743 K. Hmm. Not much room for 14 days (672 half hours) of 500 channels.

#22 of 110 OFFLINE   Kevin. W

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Posted June 26 2005 - 12:20 AM

Just picked up my 880 last night and she's all charged up and ready too go. One question I have, do you guys hear a rattle inside the remote if you shake it from side too side? I noticed the remote senses movement to turn on the LCD/glow and was wondering if had something to do with the noise?

Kevin

#23 of 110 OFFLINE   Ronald Epstein

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Posted June 26 2005 - 05:38 AM

Kevin,

Did some research on your question, as
I know when I was reading up on the remote
across the Internet the "rattling" issue
had been brought up.

It seems that the rattling sound is normal.
Looking through the Logitech online FAQ it
apparantly says this is the gyro motion sensor.
If it stops rattling then it's probably a bad
sign.

I am looking forward to hearing your comments
on this remote from ease of setup to how well
everything worked the first go-round.

 

Ronald J Epstein
Home Theater Forum co-owner

 

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#24 of 110 OFFLINE   Richard_T

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Posted June 26 2005 - 05:54 AM

Please take back everything I said above about this remote. I picked mine up yesterday and this thing is freaking awesome. At first I thought it was a pretty low level learner. I inputted all the equipment I had into the website and it downloaded all the information onto the remote. Within about ten minutes I was up and running. Fantastic...but! It also downloaded allot of buttons I had no use whatsoever. I thought, "This is crap! I don't want a button named BLUE or YELLOW or a bunch of other things I had no need for" Plus it just sort of spread everything around all over the place on the LCD screen pages.

Then I got into actually customizing each device and activity. Then this thing really started to blow me away. It's so much more customizable than my Marantz RC2000 MKII ever was. I'll keep you all updated with what I find. So far though, I'm one happy dude. One thing though, I own a new Starchoice DSR 530 HD receiver with a built in HD. This isn't on the list of available devices. Anyone have any idea how long it takes to get these new devices onto the site?
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#25 of 110 OFFLINE   Richard_T

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Posted June 26 2005 - 12:51 PM

Well, I have discovered one problem concerning the CD Jukebox Media listings. Hopefully someone can help me out with this.

I went through and loaded all of my 400 CD's into the logitech website (took me a few HOURS!). I include the Artist and then Album Name exactly as instructed. Everything looked great on the screen so I proceeded to download the information to my remote.

Now when I activate the CD Jukebox activity and then hit media it asks me to choose my artist based on A-G, H-N etc.

When I choose one of these, it lists a mixture of some Artist names and some album titles. It appears to be a big mess! Has anyone else had this problem?? At times it WILL list an Artist and if I click on it, it will show all of the albums by him. The list shows correct for about 10% of the CD's I entered.

I cannot seem to find ANY information on the internet about this. I also tried re-downloading the info to my remote, thinking the data might have become corrupt somehow, but it is still a mess.

Any help would be great!

Thanks All!

Richard
"What? What did you say? You want me to turn it up??

#26 of 110 OFFLINE   Allen Hirsch

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Posted June 26 2005 - 12:56 PM

Richard-
best help I can offer is you should call Harmony's tech help (the phone number is in the manual with the Harmony box). They're very responsive and knowledgable, in my experience.

If you have a corrupted database, they should be able to tell you. Hopefully, they can salvage all that effort you put into inputting your CDs.
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#27 of 110 OFFLINE   Richard_T

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Posted June 26 2005 - 02:20 PM

Well, I'm still having the problem with my CD listing under the "media" section. It's not a huge deal but I'd like it if it worked as it said it should. I'm sure when I call them tomorrow, they'll help me out. The other small thing I would add is though the original set up is very quick, actually customizing the remote is quite a job. Not unlike any other learner remote. You'll find yourself running back and forth to your computer yelling "SHIT! I forgot to add...." Well at least I did.

Also, the other thing I found was if you do use the manual learn function to learn a particular button onto the remote, it is not available on other devices if that makes sense. For example. On my HD satellite receiver, I have a button call DVR List which shows what is available on the hard drive. It wasn't available on the list that was given so I learned it myself which worked fine. Thing was, I also wanted it under my TV setting but it wasn't available so i had to re-input it again. i would think if I did it once, it would become part of the drop down arrow for all devices and not just the one I originally learned it to. I'm not sure if this makes sense.

More observations coming....
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#28 of 110 OFFLINE   Scott Merryfield

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Posted June 27 2005 - 12:37 AM

Quote:
Yes, there's a media button on the 659. In "Watch TV" mode, it displays TV listings. Radio listings would be nice, but as far as I can tell, that's not an option. Pity.

In order to use the TV Guide feature on the 659, you must plug the remote into your PC and download program listing updates every few days. Considering the way the programs were listed on the LCD screen (they are not easy to read), it wasn't worth the hassle of constantly downloading program updates. I shut the feature off my 659 soon after getting it.

#29 of 110 OFFLINE   Jeff Brooks

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Posted June 27 2005 - 07:21 AM

I had to return my first unit to Best Buy, as both the battery and charger had problems. I never could get an answer from support on how long the thing takes to fully charge; so, after two days, I figured there was another problem.
I will agree, though, the setup is easy, and everything worked fine for me, once I had a working unit.
I would like to point-out that since Logitech just took over Harmony, the support structure is still a little weak. I received several e-mails from Logitech informing me that they were closing my problem records and that I would be hearing from Harmony.
Although my configuration is rather simple, I am still a little confused by some "A", "B", "C", and "Effect" buttons that come up in my "Watch TV" mode. I do have Media buttons configured for my Hi-Def channels.
This remote has great potential. I feel that I have only scratched the surface.

#30 of 110 OFFLINE   Richard_T

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Posted June 27 2005 - 10:48 AM

Well, I did get in touch with Logitech today. I found the support to be great!

First they took my username and loaded it into their system. He confirmed that I did indeed enter the CD listings on the Logitech website correctly (I don't think anyone COULD go wrong doing this, it's just Artist Names and Album Names)..

...Anyhow, they were then able to load all of my settings and devices into their "virtual remote". He confirmed that the CD listings were indeed messed up and said it was definitely a bug with the remote.

The issue will be logged today, reviewed tomorrow and then put into a cue of known issues. He did warn me that my bug was not "critical" so not to expect a fix in a day or two.

Oh well, at least they have now confirmed this as a bug.

Just thought I'd let you all know the outcome.

Richard
"What? What did you say? You want me to turn it up??

#31 of 110 OFFLINE   Clinton McClure

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Posted June 28 2005 - 05:39 AM

RE: song title vs. memory capacity

For what it's worth, I keep a log of my MP3 tracks in a Lotus 123 spreadsheet. The spreadsheet consists of 28 pages, 2 of which contain over 2500 songs each plus artist, MP3 collection disk number and bitrate for each song. (One page is an alphabetical list by song title, the other page is an alphabetical list by artist.) The remaining 26 pages contain an alphabetical list of each track and artist on each of the 26 MP3 disks in my collection. The average of tracks per disk is about 80. That comes to roughly 7080 lines of text, plus however much space it takes for each page to be formatted with lines dividing all rows and columns.

The size of the file is 640k.

I don't think memory size should be an issue.

#32 of 110 OFFLINE   Dave>h

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Posted June 28 2005 - 05:42 AM

HI,

Unfortunately, I am probably going to fall into the category of someone who isn't too happy with the Harmony remote.

Like Ron, I have had a pronto for some time now and I really like it but have the same complaint - who has time to re program the thing. Unfortunately, none of my friends understand it so whenever anyone wants to do something and I am not there, there are problems. That is the reason I bought the Harmony remote. Admittedly, I only got the 688 (think that is the number) and the set up was dead easy, much more so than the pronto, the macros work pretty good. I don't have any issues with that. The help is a good feature when it works. My problems with this remote are:

1) The descriptions of buttons do not fit into the display screen - this can be fixed I think but surely I am not the first person to download the codes for any of my equipment so I can't imagine why over time, these haven't been updated in the database. Maybe I am expecting too much but I would have thought Harmony would abbreviate "component input 1" to "cmpnt 1" or something equally informative and compact enough to fit on the lcd screen of their remote. AS it stands, I can't tell the difference between component 1 and 2 and 3 because only "compone" fits on the screen.

2) The "menus" are ridiculous. OK, they are certainly tweakable but the Watch a DVD menu has the TV aspect ratio - actually very useful - and three useless dvd commands like "color". What is intutive or even useful about that? And don't even get me started on the Amplifier menus, what a total mess. Again, the remote relies on me to tweak all of these settings. That is not user friendly to my mind, especially when you consider that I cannot be the only person to have these issues or to have had to fix them.

3) The help really isn't much help when the remote can't fix the problem. For example, watching DVD's require the TV input to be set to component 1. Originally, on first set up this worked on the DVD but recently has stopped working. Going through the help, you can press the "no" button forever and the remote never sends the command to change the input on the TV to component 1. I tried for 15 minutes, just to see if it would get it. It never did.

4) There is no back button. If you skip through a menu to quickly, you have to scroll through the entire set of menus to get back to the one you missed. Sorry but to me a back button is just basic basic basic equipment.

5) I think the LCD screen is too small and that the remote is generally not very cool looking - the colour screen one looks better but it still looks rather cheap to my mind. At least the Pronto looks and feels refined and spaceage - PDA like. The Harmony is just kind of blah to me.

I am going to play with the Harmony a bit more before I pass final judgement on it, and maybe the new version has made some significant improvements over the one I purchased (C$250 at Bay Bloor Radio in Toronto) but my initial impression is one of missed opportunity. It is a really AWESOME idea but the execution of it leaves a lot to be desired IMHO.

Dave

#33 of 110 OFFLINE   Allen Hirsch

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Posted June 28 2005 - 06:22 AM

1) The descriptions of buttons do not fit into the display screen - this can be fixed I think but surely I am not the first person to download the codes for any of my equipment so I can't imagine why over time, these haven't been updated in the database. Maybe I am expecting too much but I would have thought Harmony would abbreviate "component input 1" to "cmpnt 1" or something equally informative and compact enough to fit on the lcd screen of their remote. AS it stands, I can't tell the difference between component 1 and 2 and 3 because only "compone" fits on the screen.


So "comp1" and "comp2" do the trick, right? Not too tough, once you know how many characters you're limited to.

2) The "menus" are ridiculous. OK, they are certainly tweakable but the Watch a DVD menu has the TV aspect ratio - actually very useful - and three useless dvd commands like "color". What is intutive or even useful about that? And don't even get me started on the Amplifier menus, what a total mess. Again, the remote relies on me to tweak all of these settings. That is not user friendly to my mind, especially when you consider that I cannot be the only person to have these issues or to have had to fix them.


I THINK you mean the drop-down commands that are changeable online - this is actually a strength of their programming, IMO, once you understand how they work and where you can change them. I have a mixture of commands - one from the DVD player, one from the Lutron light dimmer, and two from my pre-amp, all co-existing in the LCD screen - b/c that's what I wanted there, and could easily re-set from the online setup.

4) There is no back button. If you skip through a menu to quickly, you have to scroll through the entire set of menus to get back to the one you missed. Sorry but to me a back button is just basic basic basic equipment


I believe the "previous" button on the 688 serves that function. I never have too many screens of commands, so the "Next" button works just fine.

5) I think the LCD screen is too small and that the remote is generally not very cool looking - the colour screen one looks better but it still looks rather cheap to my mind. At least the Pronto looks and feels refined and spaceage - PDA like. The Harmony is just kind of blah to me.


If "cool looking" is important, then you did buy the wrong remote. Stick w/ the Pronto or some other fancier remote, based on looks, not necessarily functionality, or get the 880 - which does have a color screen. (I don't recall anyone claiming the 600 series remote was "cool looking", FWIW.)
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#34 of 110 OFFLINE   Dave>h

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Posted June 28 2005 - 07:33 AM

Quote:
So "comp1" and "comp2" do the trick, right? Not too tough, once you know how many characters you're limited to.


I agree. Not tough at all (except that it could be confused with composite 1 and composite 2 but that aside). My gripe if you will is that the download to the remote on initial set up, downloads "component input 1" which is too large to fit on the screen. Surely Logitech knows that won't fit on their LCD screen. And since they know it doesn't fit, and probably every single Harmony user had to change this description on their remote, why doesn't Logitech's database reflect this. The database is supposed to be interactive. If I have a component that they don't have in their database, they update their database from my remote - cool feature. So why then doesn't the database know that no one can read "component input 1" on their lcd and most people change it to comp1 or comp2 or something like that. I am saying their database isn't interactive enough and it is a flaw. A fixable flaw.



Quote:
I THINK you mean the drop-down commands that are changeable online - this is actually a strength of their programming, IMO, once you understand how they work and where you can change them. I have a mixture of commands - one from the DVD player, one from the Lutron light dimmer, and two from my pre-amp, all co-existing in the LCD screen - b/c that's what I wanted there, and could easily re-set from the online setup.


Again, I don't disagree with your comment but why, on initial set up, would the remote put such ridiculous choices as the set up. Seriously, besides aspect ratio, the intial choices were ridiculous. All I am saying is that however the remote chooses initial menu setting is flawed. It can be fixed by the user at a later stage, certainly, but more thought should have gone into how it chooses these items initially. Harmony claims this is a smart remote but it makes very poor choices.

The user interface and tweak ability is a fantastic strength, I don't disagree with that but not everyone want to spend an hour on the net tweaking the settings and this remote is supposed to be set up and it works right out of the box. If that is the case, they could have put more thought into how it chooses the initial settings.



Quote:
I believe the "previous" button on the 688 serves that function. I never have too many screens of commands, so the "Next" button works just fine.


Pretty sure their isn't a previous button on the remote. Could have missed it but don't think it exists. I will get back to you on that one. But scrolling through the menu for my amplifier is 15 screens long, miss it and going all the way around again is tedious.



Quote:
If "cool looking" is important, then you did buy the wrong remote. Stick w/ the Pronto or some other fancier remote, based on looks, not necessarily functionality, or get the 880 - which does have a color screen. (I don't recall anyone claiming the 600 series remote was "cool looking", FWIW.)


Well, this a $250 piece of equipment and it is being sold as High Tech to guys. Form and function can co exist so for my money, I personally like something that looks cool but also does the job. The Harmony is rather boring to look at IMHO.

I think it is an OK remote but I am not completely sold on it. Maybe once I take the time to tweak the setting more, I will like it more but so far I am not blown away by it.

#35 of 110 OFFLINE   Kevin. W

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Posted June 29 2005 - 10:46 AM

What is the initial charge time for the 880? Just got my new unit since I was able to get it cheaper online that at my local FS and BB.

Kevin

#36 of 110 OFFLINE   wally

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Posted June 30 2005 - 02:50 AM

Just received my 688 yesterday. Curious if anyone has experience wiping out set ups. The reason I ask is the HT I’m constructing in the basement is at least a month from completion and I’d like to start playing with my Harmony now!!! Wonder how hard it would be to set up for my family room HT and then wipe it clean and start over for the basement rig.

#37 of 110 OFFLINE   MichaelPR

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Posted June 30 2005 - 03:17 AM

Just ordered one of these through Crutchfield. I have never had a universal remote and this sounds perfect. Thanks for the review Ron.
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#38 of 110 OFFLINE   Richard_T

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Posted June 30 2005 - 03:46 AM

I also would like to know how long others are finding the initial charge as well as recharges. I have found them to be really quick! From what I can remember, my first charge took, at max 2.5 hours and each recharge since has taken no longer that 1.5 hours.

That may sound like allot to some folks but where I come from, from a guy used to charging 4 AAs overnight when my Marantz RC2000 MKII got low, those kind of times seem more than reasonable.

As a side note, has anyone figured out how to turn off the Screen Saver during recharges? I've pressed the glow button, which seems to do the trick but if I come back 15 minutes later, it's back on again! Weird. What about this whole SS thing? Has anyone even used the thing?

What about setting up somewhere that we can exchange backgrounds or digital pictures to update or remotes with? Wat are you all using on your remotes? Right now I'm just using the standard setting until I can shrink some pictures down and upload them.
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#39 of 110 OFFLINE   Allen Hirsch

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Posted June 30 2005 - 04:02 AM

What about setting up somewhere that we can exchange backgrounds or digital pictures to update or remotes with? Wat are you all using on your remotes?


This is probably what you're looking for:

http://www.remotecen....hread.cgi?2118
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#40 of 110 OFFLINE   Richard_T

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Posted June 30 2005 - 06:13 AM

Not really Allen but thank you anyway! I don't really care about channel icons and the backgrounds are kinda basic. Thanks for sharing though!
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