Saturday, May 26, 2007 Logitech Harmony 880 Remote Control: Electronics

My Logitech remote arrived, it works every bit as well as I had hoped. Setup took a little while, but mostly because I was sorting out the rats nest of wiring behind the TV.

From the purely physical point of view the device feels nice in the hand and has a Lithium ion battery which allows a long time between charges.

Unlike my first two 'universal' remotes the logitech actually does the job as advertised. There are plenty of hard buttons for the main remote functions, including DVR type functions such as skip forward and skip back. If you run out of hard buttons there are eight hard buttons positioned around the LCD display. I used this feature to program a button for the DVR function on the satelite.

As far as programming goes the database of codes is vastly more accurate and complete than any other I have used. It is keyed by the model number of the device, no more poking about trying one numeric code after another.

The one feature that the Logitech is a little wobbly on is tracking power on/power off status. This is not really the fault of the remote, its the fault of the idiot manufacturers who provide only one button for completely opposite functions. The remote has no way to know for sure if the TV is on or off. The Logitech has a 'remote assistant' which provides a pretty decent catch.

The real test for a remote of this type is, can you let visitors use the Home Theatre without being constantly asked how to work it. Here the Logitech passes the test.

Having gone through a couple of programming cycles I now have all my components working (apart from the iPod which does not want to talk to the system anyway). The only thing I have not got completely working is power on/off to the XM radio and the Onkyo Home Theatre, both of which are somewhat finiky with the manufacturer remote. I will program these in later via the learning feature. I think I will also use my spare soft buttons to give direct access to power on/off on each component.

So a triumph for the computer industry approach of mass collaboration? Well partly. The ingenuity of the Logitech should not be necessary at all. It solves a problem that should not exists, that only exists because of the shortsighted incompetence of the equipment manufacturers.

Of the range logitech offers the 880 appears to be the one to get. The cheaper models in the range are not much cheaper. The next model up, the 890 has wireless capability but costs $100 more. This would make sense if you want to rack your gear out of sight (and kids!). Having used tablet format remotes like the 1000 I would not see them as an improvement.

No comments: