Harmony Remote

I know I’m a bit late to the game on this, but I just got the Harmony 659 for Christmas and man is this cool! I had a rough time with the web setup the first day because apparently there were so many people trying to get their remotes set up that the site was timing out, but it’s working great and it’s a huge help.

My wife admitted that she bought this for me for selfish reasons though…she said she was sick of having four remotes :P

yeah, I updated mine last night and it took me 45 minutes to upload my latest config due to all the fucking net traffic.

The remote is awesome though.

I was eagerly awaiting the Harmony Remote 880 from when it was announced. I’ve been interested in the Harmony remotes before Logitech purchased them, and when the 880 was announced, it fixed my long time grievance with Harmony products - the aesthetics. Why have an ugly remote when you have a sexy HD setup. When it was finally available for order, I bought one day one.

An aside, in NYC if you’re using Time Warner Cable, many people have reported that (and I’ve experienced it) the set top boxes can crash quite easily if you use the TV guide functionality of the box. I never use it. If I do without fail my box freezes up tight, and I have to unplug it and plug it back in. An associate of mine went through six units from TWCNYC before they found one that didn’t exhibit this behavior. One of the things that I’ve always found attractive with the Harmony were the TV listings on the remote itself.

So I bought my remote - configured it, but I didn’t see any way to set up TV listings. I wrote Logitech’s customer service, inquiring how do I get listings on my 880. The response was that the listings functionality hadn’t been completed for the 880, and would be available shortly. So I check on their website once a month for an update, when last month I finally noticed that in the screen that compared models, TV listings were "x"ed out for the 880. Apparently Logitech has abandoned that function for this and future devices based on the 880 (the 890 will also not have TV listings).

Am I happy with the remote, sans TV listings? Yeah. But the “lesser” models have a capability that make them superior to the newer models.

Sorry, I apologize for the ramble.


I’ve played with macro remotes in the past and found them unsatisfactory because equipment did not have discrete on and off codes.

For example, for my old panny 42" (series 5) only has a power toggle function. When it receives the signal it turns on if it’s off and viceversa. Without a specific signal to turn on the equipment, macros often fail.

Is there a workaround for this? Getting up and changing, or watching power states carefully is fine with me, but it’s not family-friendly.

Replacing plasma monitor not really an option :)

I believe the Harmony saves state. So if you press the Watch TV button then press the watch a DVD button, the macro for the second button will not turn the TV off.


The remote definitely saves the state. And if various devices get turned off by the kids or something you can hit the Help button to resync everything.

Ah, sounds like a buy then! Thank you folks.

I’m trying to find out the key differences between the Harmony 520 and the 659 besides style. I picked up a 520 today for CAD$119.99, and I’m hesitant to open it, if I’m missing a lot feature wise. I’d rather just return it and get a 659 if I’m going to be hamstringing myself.

The Logitech website is absolutely no help in defining the differences between the various models.

Anybody else already done this research?

A few of my coworkers have the 880 and like it. I greatly prefer my HTM MX500.


(warning: first one was DOA. Had to swap it out).

good review:


make sure you have the latest java runtime installed and grab the latest version of the software (under support link in the upper left of the page)

The version on the cd was pretty dated.

  • 15 device support, 2mb memory. Uses activities instead of devices. You can still use it like a tradition univeral based on devices but you won’t want to once you setup activities which work much better.
  • Web/Java application to setup everything about your remote. Once it’s setup you d/l it to the remote through usb (the first time it also upgraded the remote firmware). Incredible up to date database. This remote supports learning but I didn’t have to learn a single key. It had everything in the database including my old Laser Disc Player and even an IR -> x10 converter.
  • 6 custom LCD buttons which you can add an infinite (up to max memory) number of custom keys.
  • tons of hard buttons with good spacing so you can operate almost everything through tactile feedback. Great ergonomics for easy one hand operation.
  • uses regular 4XAAA batteries
  • takes 3 min to d/l changes.
  • web interface needs work. It’s slow. some functions are pretty hidden. Example, if you want to make sure a device is always on (never turns off when you hit the off button), then it’s advance options or sometimes burried in trouble shooting. If you want to add a device to an activity and add some commands from the device when you first press the activity button it’s in the trouble shooting section of the activity. The remote can probably do whatever you want it to do, the problem is finding it on their web page which relies way too much on wizards and just makes it difficult for you to tweak that one thing. You have to go through a series of questions all over again and again.
  • one thing I couldn’t figure out is how to customize the Off button. I know it’s trying to be smart, keeps track of all the activities you’ve been using and all assocated devices, and then turns everything off that it knows is on. But it seems to ignore any devices you add to an activity after the initial activity setup. Example, I added an IR x10 command to shut off my sub woofer. The x10 device is part of my activity. I was even able to set it up on activity start it turns on the sub. But when I press the off button the sub stays on. The work around is you can also customize actions that happen when you leave an activity. This happens not only when you press off but when you switch from one activity to another. This works for the most part but it would be nice just to see the “OFF Macro” and let me insert commands.
  • activities are great but some macro control would have been nice.
  • what happens if logitech decides to drop support one day and shut down the Harmony line?

This was an upgrade from my old Sony RM-AV2100 Remote Control which worked great, had incredible learning capability, but I grew tired of the touch screen, and the bulk made it hard to operate with one hand. Overall the harmony is a big improvement, simplifies operations (activities > macros for the most part). The wife made the switch in no time.

Highly recommended.

This was an upgrade from my old Sony RM-AV2100 Remote Control which worked great

Thats the remote I have now and while I love it I am really thinking about getting one of these new ones.

Check out the MX500. I really strongly prefer it to the harmony models. It is definitely less girlfriend-friendly, which is fine by me because I don’t want chicks using my equipment anyway. Last time that happened some crazy bitch gave three thumbs down to Robocop, my tivo took years to recover.

Dude. Seriously. That MX500 looks like something you would use in a Nuclear Reactor to configure the control rods.

And its ugly.

It feels great in the hand, is extremely well built, is fully programmable and learning, and has buttons for everything. Ergonomically speaking, it’s a better remote. But it’s a pain in the ass to program and it’s somewhat difficult for the unenlightened to use.

Just bought a logitech 659 last week (at a brick and mortar, came out to $167 with tax UGH) Works nice! Then I find out today there is a $50 rebate on the 676 which is much better suited for Tivos!

659 at B&M = $167
676 = $55 shipped.

So I ordered the 676, now to figure out who to foist this 659 on sigh.
I do have one of those MX500/700 remotes, but they are NOT family friendly. Technophones can’t figure out how to use it. If it’s easier to walk up to the device and hit the buttons, you don’t wanna get that control.

the logitech is nice for the lazy - if you are not the sole, primary user of the TV then just get the logitech that programs all the macros for you.

EDIT: Sorry forgot the link

Rebate: $50 http://www.logitech.com/lang/pdf/remotecontestrebate.pdf

Very strange, the thing was on top of techbargains two hours ago. now only shows up with search function.

Where’d you find the 676 for $105 pre-rebate?

I’m rapidly becoming tired of juggling the 4 remotes I currently have. (None of which are “universal” because nobody has a reasonable code for my TV.) On the other hand, I just sprang for a new AV system so buying a really expensive remote seems to be kind of pushing it when the others work. Cheap but useful remote would fit the bill perfectly.

I just got the harmony xbox 360 remote. The wife was asking why she couldn’t do the activities thing upstairs.