Home > Recommendations/Reviews > Logitech Harmony 880 universal remote review

Logitech Harmony 880 universal remote review

Thursday, February 9th, 2006

I recently purchased this device. Here’s a copy of the review I submitted to CNet.

Pros:

  • clear color display
  • sophisticated flexibility
  • extensive database
  • contoured buttons helpful in dark or for sight-impaired
  • good telephone support

Cons:

  • painfully slow web-based programming,
  • not clear how to replace macro functions,
  • poor email support
  • no written manual included with product,
  • online manual is meagre
  • web manual hotlinks don’t work (did they not buy the Adobe PDF writer?)
  • button text is too small for many functions (mute, for example)
  • I don’t want yet another application sitting in memory all the time looking for updates
  • I don’t trust Logitech to use all the personal information they collect (as the result of using a web-based application) in a way that is in my best interest
  • the programming module reorders programmable button to match some paradigm, ignoring user preference, diminishing the value of programmable buttons
  • the web interface detects that FireFox is not a supported browser, and since the resident process fires up the default browser, if you have FireFox as your default, this is a major annoyance
  • the exit option is obscured when right-clicking on quick-access icon if the taskbar is four or more sections high (he pop-up window has lower priority than the taskbar)
  • they use a proprietary rechargeable battery (big mistake!) which does not seat positively in the battery compartment

Comments

I was excited about the potential of this remote to help my Mom whose eyesight is poor and who can get confused (as can I!) when she has to deal with a handful of remotes. The clear, programmable color display (with a large-text mode) is impressive. The first disappointment was the programming process: the web-based system is very slow. The website timed out frequently (and no, my ISP was doing just fine). Once preferences were set, it took a while for the programming request to be queued and processed. Then followed a binary download and programming of the device. Except for the choice of devices, this whole process could have been a local PC application. And having to test this on my system, and do a number of iterations was extremely frustrating.

I was amazed to see my ancient Altec-Lansing audio system as the example Altec device. I’d hijacked it from an old computer system. All devices I tested (a total of 8 ) were in the database: well done.

Documentation is minimal and incomplete. Support-wise, the web-based email support was virtually useless, it took 5 days to get a response. In contrast, I found the toll-free phone support to be prompt, courteous and informed.

My mother ran into problems though fairly immediately when using the unit, it would often reset (show the “testing” screen and go back to the intro screen). Of course on/off device synchronism is lost when this happens so it’s quite a mess. Customer support immediately recognized this as probably caused by poor battery seating and recommended I stuff a strip of paper in the compartment to put upward pressure on the battery against the contacts. Eek. After a couple of weeks though, the device “blue-screened” (literally!!!), and the only way to fix it was to take the battery out and put it back in. Customer support then suggested it was time for a new unit, which I have just now picked up.

Another somewhat scary bit: the “aspect” function did not change the aspect ratio for one of the TVs I tested. With no macro programming capability there was then no way to duplicate the keystrokes needed to achieve this. So unless I’m missing something, this is a serious limitation.

Summary

I would not recommend this device for anyone non-technical or if any of the issues I outline here are a concern. It’s a remarkable product considering it’s Logitech’s first foray into programmable remotes, but their lack of experience is glaring. If there were an equivalent competitive product, I would encourage folks to look at those, but I found nothing that had the same features. So unless it continues to crash I will stick with it.

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