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Discussion in 'Home Automation, Accessories, Cables, and Remotes' started by Ronald Epstein, Jun 22, 2005.
Home Theater Forum Harmony Review
I'm jealous that you actually found one. None in the Best Buy stores around here, and online retailers (including Logitech's site) are all sold out. Thanks for the great review!
I am loving mine! I replaced a pronto with this remote and wife is very happy indeed. The activity-based setup really makes sense to her! To top it all off it only took me about 30 minutes to config everything! Take that pronto! Lance
I gotta get me one of these!
I forgot to mention, I'll be replacing a pronto as well - for all the reasons you've stated.
Ron, I have a functionality question. My TV is a 1st gen Toshiba widescreen which does not have an autodetect for the picture size. I have to manually change from 4:3 to Letterbox to fullscreen 16x9 (animorphic mode). If I were to set a macro to turn on the DVD player, receiver, tv, etc... would I be able to set up the macro function to also switch to the correct viewing mode for the DVD?
You should be able to, Clinton. I have a Harmony 659, and after all your equipment is dialed in, you have the option to add additional commands during the startup sequence (ie. pressing "Watch a DVD") or to add commands to the LCD display buttons (ie. one of the programmable buttons besides the display can be used to switch Subtitles or change aspect ratio - although I think you need to select the TV device first).
I dove in! Picking mine up at BB tomorrow. They do have them on-line now. I was able to use some coupon for on-line purchases that they were handing-out at the store the other day. It saves you $10 for every $100 you spend on-line, up to $50. So, I saved $20 for a price of $229.
I've found that the Harmony configuration sometimes makes too many assumptions. I have a very simple (albeit unusual) system consisting of an HDTV tuner, a receiver, and a cd player (DVDs are played through a computer). The tuner is hooked up to a RGB monitor--no remote, no fancy tuner. When the HDTV tuner turns on, the monitor wakes; when it turns off, the monitor sleeps. Anyway, I had it configured to my liking, but started to wonder why the TV listings weren't coming up when I pressed the "Media" button. It turned out that the remote thought I was using a Satellite Radio activity. When I tried to set up a "Watch TV" activity, the setup service balked (as I "coud not" display video (lacking a TV, or monitor). So, it's off to set up my monitor. And for that, it wants a remote. It took me a bit of fiddling to persuade the web site that no remote was necessary, nor required. I should have taken notes, as I can't quite recall how I might duplicate my results. For my next trick, I plan to get a remote receiver for my iBook, and see if I can't set up the Harmony 659 to play DVDs on the laptop. But initial explorations are not encouraging--the website seems not to believe that a simple computer could play anything as sophisticated as a DVD. On the other hand, it is nice to be able to toss my remote collection in the drawer-- and the ability to customize buttons using pull down menus instead of fiddly numeric codes is a godsend. My devices came with two "universal remotes." The one that came with my HDTV tuner didn't support receivers, an unusual choice, as HDTV should mostly appeal to the "home theater crowd", and the other didn't support HDTV tuners, and neglected third party CD players. The Harmony, however, could recognize my HDTV tuner, CD player, and receiver, with a minimum of fuss, although setting up activities proved to be rather confusing.
Good review, Ron. But we gotta get you a screen capture utility so you don't have to take photographs of your monitor. PS -- Glad you're liking the Harmony. As I mentioned previously, my satisfaction level has increased the more I've used mine.
Bob, I just obtained a screen capture utility. Hope to update that picture soon. Look forward to hearing from you guys just purchasing this remote.
Thanks Ron, Your positive review helped me pull the trigger on the 688. Can’t wait to finish the assembly of my basement HT and put this bad boy in charge!
Nice review, Ron. Glad to see it's been all you expected, and that I could steer you to one of the best HT accessories on the market today, IMO. For those of you not yet using a Harmony, if you have HDTV via cable, the remote that comes with the HDTV/PVR in many cases does NOT have the 30-sec. skip button, nor is it even programmable into the OEM remote (I gotta believe this is a bone thrown to major advertisers by the cable company and Motorola - the maker of the HDTV/PVR tuner/recorder). Harmony DOES have the 30-sec. skip button in the online database for the Motorola 6412 and all its 600 series remotes - a godsend if you watch NFL football (only no-huddle offenses aren't perfectly in synch with a 30-sec. skip, to watch games with minimum "dead time" between plays).
One other cool Harmony feature I forgot to mention, if you have a CD or DVD jukebox. There's a media button on the Harmony 688 (probably a similar function on the new 880 and other 600 series). You enter your CDs by title and artist online, by the slot they occupy in the jukebox. Now to play any CD, you don't need to know what slot it's in, or refer to an index or a list somewhere. All you have to do is hit "media" and an alphabet grouping comes up - press the apprpriate alphabet button for that artist, and all album titles under that artist show up - now press the album you want, and you're done. Very slick and easy.
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.
I agree with what Ron says about the charger base. I feel like I need to rubber-band it. It's difficult to keep the contacts touching. BTW, how long does it take for it to charge-up the first time around? Thanks.
Other people have complained about the charger, I have never had a problem. Do you have it on a hard flat surface? I just drop mine in, press the glow button, and it is alwasy fully charged.
What about memory? I've been using my Marantz RC2000 MKII for years and I've gotten to a point where it's pretty full and has a hard time learning any more functions. How much memory does the 880 have compared to my old Marantz?
All of the current harmony remotes have 2MB of flash.
Does that not seem kind of low? I mean, I've read above about the CD jukebox option and it sounds wonderful to me except wouldn't that take a big chunk of memory just to hold all of my 400 CDs' titles and such in there as well as all the other remotes I have installed? Just wondering