Saturday, December 16, 2006

Review: Harmony 880 Advanced Remote

Summary: Have more than 4 IR remotes in your electronics setup and hate finding the right remote? Do you have so many A/V items that your better half does not understand how to turn on the TV? You need this device.

Like most of my reviews, I won't bore the reader with simple facts about this device since you can find that information anywhere on the internet. I will give a hands on view of the device and my improssions of how well the device works ( or doesn't work ).

Long Time User

I have been a Harmony remote user from back before they called themselves Harmony. The unit I have been using for the past 5 years had the label "" on it. This was the original website and it was a very functional remote. It attempted to simplify the A/V experience down to it's most minimalistic experience and, for the most part, it worked like a charm. It was quickly decided by users and staff that the scroll wheel and lack of both navigation and transport controls was a bad idea. Needless to say the remote served out home well for those 5 years only needing an occasional change of batteries and update from the website when I got a new device.

Recently I swapped out most of my A/V equipment and went to reconfigure the remote only to discover that the unit would not longer accept programming over the USB port. I was disappointed, but quickly got over the loss by lusting after a long needed upgrade.

Logitech Harmony 880 Advanced IR Remote

I knew immediately what remote I wanted to upgrade to when the trusty old remote died... the harmony 880. With enough buttons to make any geek happy and enough customization to make almost any setup possible. The only major limitation in setup is that it can only control IR devices. After fighting with a larger online reseller around black friday I finally get the remote a week later. It came out of the box immediately and I set it up to begin charging.

Because I had a whole new A/V setup and a new remote I decided to make a new account on the Harmony site. Within 20 minutes I had inputted all of the devices I use and was on my way to customizing the remote with extra buttons, favorites, and timings in order to eek out even more from the unit.


There ended up being a few things that I could not quite get correct. Changing inputs via a macro works great, but the set does have discrete codes that would improve the speed. I tried several other TV's and found a number of discrete codes that worked quite well. I contacted support and over the course of several days we went through many iterations of the Panasonic database until we had all but one discrete code for this TV mapped to the remote. Now that's what I call support. The company encourages this type of exploration because they update their database and all people with that device benefit next time they synchronize the remote.


This is one of those devices that is easy to recommend. Assuming you have remote hell, you need one of these. You can get them at price points from $70 up to $250 ( the 880 can be had for $130 if you shop around ) and they all work about the same, just decide what features you really want and what you want to spend. The only real downside to the remote is the fact that you need to program it via the web and if for any reason down the line the website goes poof, you remote become a doorstop. Many attempts to get Harmony to open up the remote have always been rebuffed by the company.

Overall this has been a very beneficial addition to my modest home theater setup.

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