REVIEW: Harmony 880 Universal Remote - Home Theater Forum and Systems -

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post #1 of 5 Old 07-31-06, 11:34 AM Thread Starter
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REVIEW: Harmony 880 Universal Remote

Many of you are familiar with the Harmony family of remotes, and some of you may have the 880, but for those that don't, here is a little review of the Harmony 880.

Here is a link to the Harmony site:

I bought a Harmony 880 in November of 2005, and it has been an incredible remote. This is a remote that is a channel surfer's best friend. It has a great feel for everyday use. The 880 is loaded to the kilt at its price point with functions and features. The color screen, which allows for full customization of your theme, backgrounds, icons, slide show pics, and channel logos, adds so much attractiveness while maintaining usefullness. You don't just get eye candy with no function, you get it all.

I happened to get an early production model that had the recharging problem. The problem is caused by a poorly designed cradle charging station. The Logitech engineering dept. was very quick to respond to customer feedback, and identified the problem, and developed a totally new cradle base. The charging cradle is availible to anyone who has the recharging issue totally free of charge. All you have to do is mention that your remote doesn't recharge and tell them you want the new base, and they'll ship it right out to you, no questions asked. You don't have to ship in the old one or anything. Just let 'em know, and you'll get the new cradle and be problem free from there on out.

Other than the recharging issue, I've had no defects or problems. Its been totally awesome using the macro features for the different activities I want to do, such as Watch TV, Watch DVD, Listen to CD, etc... This is what replaces all those original remotes that came with your equipment. Once you've programed the remote and setup your layout, you just push the activity you want, and the 880 blasts the proper commands, and you're on your way. One thing I should note is that the Harmony remotes can only assign macros to the main acitivty buttons, where as some other universal remotes can assign macros to virtually any button. This means that if you need a macro, you'll have to setup a new activity just for that macro. This is something that Harmony doesn't think is necessary, but custom installers would disagree. I don't use any, and I wouldn't find it a pain to setup a macro that way, but its something I should say just in case you might want independant macros.

For the online programming setup, they have default values for each piece of equipment, such as timing delays, but you can customize them to whatever speed is going to maximize your particular system. In other words, if you find that when you add an activity, and you know for certain that your equipment can handle a faster response, then you can go into your commands and reset the delay speed so that your system will operate as fast as is possible and still recognize the commands. Very NICE! The drawback to IR remotes is that you need to keep a straght signal path to the equipment during the entire sequence, whereas with an RF remote, you don't. That's what the Harmony 890 is for, right? That's a pile of cash more, so for me, I'll take the IR remote at this point.

I should mention a HUGE benefit is the HELP button. What it does is resync all your equipment. Basically, with other remotes you can get totally screwed and lost if you hit a macro and somebody walks in front of the remote and the device, hence disrupting your command. With the Harmony, all you do is hit HELP, and it will ask questions to fix the problem. What it does is resync everything so that the remote knows what devices are ON and what devices are OFF. This is a life saver for people who are unfamiliar with how everything is hooked up, like Grandma or whoever.

One thing that I found could be an improvement is the button layout, but this is just personal preference. I don't use the PLAY, STOP, FF, RW, etc... buttons as much as I do the NUMBER PAD. On the 880, the numbers are located at the very bottom of the remote, so accessing them requires you to hold the remote at the very bottom, which is akward and off balance. The PLAY, STOP, etc... buttons are located above the number pad, and are much easier to use. I rarely use these, and when I do, such as watching a DVD or DVR, I pretty much just hit PLAY or STOP once, and track advance, FF only occasionally. I certainly use the number pad much more frequently, so I would have found a much better "feel" to using the remote if the PLAY, STOP, etc.. buttons were on the very bottom, and the number pad above that. That's about my only complaint. What saves me here is the MEDIA function, where you store your favorite channels. I believe you can store 2 LCD screens worth, which is 8 channels per screen for a total of 16 channels. When I want to watch one of my favorites, I hit the media button and it calls up the first page of my favorites. These have customizable images, and I downloaded the appropriate channel logo for each of my favorites(ESPN uses the ESPN logo, FOX-HD uses the FOX-HD logo, etc...). You can use any image you want, though, like a picture of <a href="" onmouseover="window.status='Mickey Mouse'; return true;" onmouseout="window.status=''; return true;">Mickey Mouse</a> for the Disney Channel or whatever, all in FULL COLOR. This just screams COOL FEATURE and sets this remote apart from the other Harmony 6xx series remotes. Anyway, this MEDIA feature makes up for putting the number pad on the bottom because all I have to do is punch my favorite channel button, and ZAP, I'm there. Awesome, I LOVE it.

The only other thing would be the buttons themselves. We all have our favorite button style and feel, so you're not going to please everyone, no matter what you do. The 880 uses sleek, small, but rather easily identifiable button types. The layout and the curves and shapes used really help to locate the buttons without having to look and strain too much. This won't be a remote that you'll just be able to pick up for the first time, use for one day and have all the locations "touch memorized" the next day. Learning ALL the buttons will take some getting used to, and will require a little more effort in memorization to be able to use in complete darkness.(the keys are backlit so you don't have to memorize them because even in darkness, the buttons are lit up and ease to see) However, there are some very large texture clues, such as the center directional pad, the channel up and down, the volume up and down. This makes recognizing where you thumb is pretty easy. When you start adding so many buttons, it get tricky to design a layout that will make it a no-mistake, total no-look remote. With time, you'll be flying around like its nothing, but if you are button-learning challenged, then you will need to stay after class and go to study hall. You'll get it, though. The primary buttons are a piece of cake, so if you just want to channel surf, then your golden from day one.

I'd recommend this remote HIGHLY to anyone just getting into the world of universal macro remotes. I paid $174.99 for mine, and that is just a small price to pay for all the value that this remote adds to your home entertainment system. I'm sure prices will keep coming down way below the $250 retail, so keep your eye out for bargins and specials.
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post #2 of 5 Old 08-01-06, 10:42 AM
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Re: REVIEW: Harmony 880 Universal Remote

Great review This remote is in my whish list! Setting delay speed is really an useful feature.

Have you tested its learning function? I have some remotes that probably are not included in its pre-programmed list.

post #3 of 5 Old 08-01-06, 11:33 AM Thread Starter
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Re: REVIEW: Harmony 880 Universal Remote

milesahead wrote:
Have you tested its learning function? I have some remotes that probably are not included in its pre-programmed list.

Absolutely. The Learning feature works great. I also find that even if your equipment is included in their database, that "learning" the command into the Harmony 880 will solve some issues. There were a couple of database commands that just didn't work properly for me, and after I learned the command, it worked perfect.
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post #4 of 5 Old 08-01-06, 12:52 PM
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Re: REVIEW: Harmony 880 Universal Remote

Hi there,

First, I would like to say that this is a nice review of an excellent HT accesory. Thanks MrPorterhouse!

As to the learning stuff -- I might add that it will figure out what remote you are trying to learn, so that you don't have to learn all the buttons. I think it asks to learn three buttons from the original, and then it will ask if you are trying to learn "such and such" remote... For me it found two relatively obscure remotes after the three button pushes: Sirius Sportster and CyberLink PowerDVD. You then have access to all buttons/commands for the remote you are trying to learn. I'm actually using the 890, but I believe this part of it is exactly the same as the 880.

And their database of known remotes is huge. Much bigger than the "lists" of codes that I have seen included with other universal/learning remotes.

I have my complaints about the 890, but overall it's an awesome tool.

-- Otto
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post #5 of 5 Old 08-02-06, 12:45 PM
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Re: REVIEW: Harmony 880 Universal Remote

Thanks to all for the info.

This remote seem to be a really well designed piece of hardware.


880 , harmony , remote , review , universal

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