Remote controls are really great because you don’t have to get up when you want to change the channel or volume. The only problem is when you have lots of devices you also have lots of remotes. A universal remote gets rid of the clutter, but they add a lot of extra steps. Having to switch back and forth between TV, DVD and a Stereo just to watch a movie is a big pain. In addition setting them up is not easy because you have to type in codes or copy IR signals from one remote to the other. Logitech’s Harmony line of universal remotes goes a long way to relieve some of those extra steps and headaches.
- Color display
- Recharging station
- Space for up to eight custom activities
- Lithium-ion battery provides up to a one-week charge
- Operate up to 15 devices and 255 commands
When you look at the remote the most prominent feature is the color LCD screen. The screen is used to display a variety of information, including the names of the buttons on the side of the screen and helpful instructions incase the macros get messed up. There are four buttons on each side of the screen, each of these buttons are used to setup activities (macros) and to add custom buttons for individual devices.
The remote is able to control up to 15 devices at the same time and it can store up to 255 commands. With this ability you can easily setup multiple activities that will allow to control any device in your home that has a remote.
Logitech maintains a huge online database of products which makes setting up your devices really easy. This database includes more than 5,000+ manufacturers and 175,000+ devices, everything from HDTVs to DVRs, VCRs to lighting controls. Instead of punching in codes or copying IR signals to program the remote you just need to select your brand and model from a list in the remote control software then download it to the Harmony 880.
The remote control software will make setting up the Harmony 880 really easy. With this software you can do everything you need to program the remote to work with your devices the way you want it to. All of this is done with really easy to follow instructions and guides. The software can even guide you through the setup process by asking you specific questions about how you will use each device. If you do use the wizards to help you setup the remote you can always go back and tweak the settings to further match your needs. If you happen to change to a different Harmony remote you can even transfer all you setting to the new remote without any trouble.
The Harmony 880 comes with a Lithium-ion rechargeable battery. One charge the battery can last up to one week, but luckily you may never need it to last that long. The remote also comes with a docking station; the dock plugs into a wall and will charge the battery every time you put the remote on it. This is especially nice because you don’t have to remove the battery or plug in the remote which leaves it available at a moments notice. All you need to do it pick it up and start using it and place it back on the dock when you are done to insure a charged battery. The dock is very low profile so it can easily be placed out of sight. The dock has a small blue circle that lights up when it is plugged it. This can be helpful if you are in the dark and you need to find the base.
The remote also features a short walk through that will show you some of the more prominent features and help you get started.
The remote is well designed for use by anyone, no matter which hand you prefer and no matter how big or small your hands are. The front of the remote is dominated by buttons, in fact there are 53 buttons and 45 of them are programmable. The buttons are well placed so that they can be reached easily. The buttons are all made out of hard plastic which means they are going to last a long time and the labels on them are not going to wear off. There is also a nice solid feel to them and they have a good feel each time you press them. There are buttons for a variety of actions which is nice if you have a DVR or even a media center extender. If you do find an action that is not on the remote you can easily program one of the 8 keys on the side of the screen to do whatever you want. Even though there are only 8 keys on the side of the screen you are not limited to only 8 custom actions. You can actually have unlimited pages of buttons which translates to unlimited custom buttons. The screen is a 128×160-pixel color display and is not the highest resolution, but it is clear enough to make out text and simple images.
The bottom only has a charging interface and a battery compartment. There are also several grooves that are for your fingers. If you place you hand on the remote so your fingers rest in these grooves then your fingers should be able to reach most of the buttons without moving.
The front has an IR transmitter and a mini USB port, and the back as an IR receiver. the IR receiver is used to capture signals from remotes of devices that are not in the Harmony 880’s database.
The first time you setup the Harmony 880 it is going to take you several hours. If you have a laptop or a computer near the TV and other devices that you are setting up I recommend that you use it, this will prevent you have having to run around the house testing the remote each time you make a change. Using the Harmony software is not hard, the most difficult and time consuming activity is finding each of your devices in the huge database and if you happen to have a device that is not listed you have to manually program the remote with the original remote. Once the remote has been programmed the information is stored online so that you never have to worry about loosing it. If you do happen to let the battery drain and you loose the settings you can simply plug it in and download all the settings again. When I setup my Harmony 880 I had to manually program my TV because it was not in the list. I did this by selecting a function that you want to store in the software and pointing the original remote at the back of the Harmony 880 and then pushing the original remotes buttons one at a time so the Harmony can store the signals.
You can go directly to the website or install the software to setup the remote. The website is http://members.harmonyremote.com. I had to use the website the first time because the software would not connect to the servers. I recommend the software because it is much more user friendly.
When you first connect to the software you will need to have your remote plugged in and once the connection has been confirmed the software will present you with a huge list of devices with manufacturers that you need to choose from. Once you have selected all the manufactures and devices you will be asked for the model numbers for each device. If you happen to choose a not listed you will be asked to enter in the manufacturer and model number. If the software cannot identify your device it will ask you for the original remote so you can send it the IR signals. After it has collected a few it will try and match your devices IR signals to another device in the database. If it finds a match it will attempt to set the rest of the codes to match the set it found. Once all the devices have been identified you will be asked to setup some activities. Based on which devices you setup the software will suggest a few activities to start with. For example if you setup a TV and DVD player one of the activities will be Watch a DVD, If you setup an AV receiver then another activity would be Listen to Radio.
When you setup an activity you will be asked about the function of each device. For example, if you setup the Watch a DVD activity you will be asked which device you use to play a DVD, and which device you use to display video, and which device you use to control the volume. If you only have one device that is capable of doing something then the question will be skipped. For example, if you only have one TV then you will not be asked which device displays the video. If necessary, if the device has more than one input, you will also be asked what input each device needs to be set to. At the end you will be asked to review all the settings and you will be given the option to add control over additional devices like light controls or something.
Besides setting up activities and devices you can also change the theme and colors of the screen, setup a slide show, and also change some of the functionality of the remote itself. Things like glow time, clock, help remote assistance and tilt sensor.
Once all your activities and devices are setup then you will need to upload them to your remote. Uploading the settings to the remote does not require any use interaction. All you need to do is click the Update Remote button and let the software take over. While it is updating all you will normally see is a status bar. If you click the Show Status button you will get to see a little more details about what is going on.
Once everything is setup the remote is really easy to use. When you first pick it up it will be on the activity screen. All you need to do is press which activity you want to do, like watch TV, and the remote will send all the signals to each device that is needed. For example if I want to watch TV I need to turn on my VCR and TV, and switch my TV to the AV1 input. If at anytime one of the devices does not turn on or the wrong input is selected you simply need to press the help button and the remote will ask you some simple questions that you can answer to get everything back on track. This is the only part of owning the remote that bothered me. I frequently have to press the help button to sort things out. I realize there is no other way to do it currently, but it would be nice if the TV, VCR and other devices could send a signal back to the remote to indicate its current status. This way the remote could get everything correct without having to ask me questions.
After playing around with things for a while the only problem I still have is getting my TV to switch to the correct inputs. I am sure that playing around with it some more will help to reduce the problem, but I can always use the help button, it works every time.
The only complaint that I have is the lack of RF support. You could have to buy the Harmony 890 or 1000 to get this and even then you have to buy additional parts. With out RF support you must make sure you have line of sight with each of your components. This fact prevents you from being able to store your devices in a cupboard or anywhere else out of sight. Hopefully in the future more devices and future Harmony remotes will have RF support by default.
Warranty and Support
Logitech provides a 1 year limited warranty on the Harmony 880. This is not a very good warranty and I would encourage Logitech to increase it. I like to see companies that build good products and prove it with good warranties. If treated well the Harmony 880 should last much longer then a year. If you have trouble setting up your remote Logitech offers support by phone or email or online as a discussion forum and FAQ.
I am really happy with the Harmony 880. This is probably the last remote I will every own, unless I get the new Harmony 1000. I can easily recommend it to anyone that has a lot of remotes and wants to consolidate them. With a little effort you can learn how to use it and get it to do some fairly amazing things. As with all electronic devices there is a learning curve. It may be difficult for people who are not up to date with electronics to get used to it. I do not recommend that you buy this for one of them. They will probably get frustrated and go back to the old way of doing things. If they are not afraid of new things and they don’t mind pressing the help button a lot then they should be just fine and everything will work out. Although you may want to do the initial setup for them. As always compare prices before purchasing.
|JusTech'n editors' rating|