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Need help in choosing a harmony remote

Old 09-20-06, 12:20 PM
  #1  
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Need help in choosing a harmony remote

Here are the current devices I have, all with their own remotes. It is past time that I get a universal remote....

Panasonic PT-900AU front projector
Toshiba HD-1A HD-DVD player
monoprice HDMI switch
Yamaha receiver (forget model)
Dish Network 622 VIP HD DVR

The problem is that I enjoy the functionality of most of the remotes I have (obviously except the Toshiba, which has set the bar in worst remotes). Also, with having a projector, I don't think I can effectively use macros because the remote has to point up behind my head for the the projector, then forward to the components.

Help me out, dudes.
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Old 09-20-06, 12:28 PM
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I'll be honest, I have 5 remotes in my theater and 6 in my family room system. While the programmable remotes look cool I have never found the need to have one. Why? Because once I turn things on I don't need any remotes and if I do it is my Sat remote to change channels.

You could set up an IR system for the projector if needed to get the signal to it.
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Old 09-20-06, 12:49 PM
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I do enjoy the idea that you may have saved me money.
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Old 09-20-06, 12:54 PM
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My MX-500 ($90) does well for me. Powerful enough that I don't have to run a wire to the PJ, it just bounces off the screen no problem. (I do have an IR repeater system for other reasons) The PJ's own remote is far less effective this way, although it does work if I aim it.

I can't stand having multiple remotes. Brian, don't you ever switch over to a DVD or music or something? So nice to have it all a couple buttons away.
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Old 09-20-06, 01:05 PM
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I can't stand having multiple remotes. Brian, don't you ever switch over to a DVD or music or something?
Honestly no. Then again my theater is a dedicated viewing room. If I go down there to watch a dvd, that is what I do. If I watch HDTV or something else off of satellite, I turn to that source and go.

Not knocking these types of remotes, I have just never found the need for one.
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Old 09-20-06, 07:34 PM
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It probably has come about recently because of the HDMI switcher remote and the complete uselessness of the Toshiba remote. Perhaps the trick would be to switch those to the Dish Network remote. I'll see if I can.
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Old 09-21-06, 12:20 PM
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I love my Harmony 880, it easily takes care of my,

Infocus X1 PJ
H/K HT receiver (which is difficult on some remotes as H/K uses seperate on/off buttons on it's OEM remote)
Toshiba Tivo with built in DVDp player
Dishnetwork Sat receiver
Motorola Voom HD OTA receiver
Lutron wireless light dimmer

Almost all Harmony's have the exact same programing. The difference becomes the button lay out on the remote and bells/whistles (the 880 has a rechargable batter and color screen).

My wife loves our Harmony. I have it set up so that when you pick up the remote everything is in plain english,

"Play DVD"
"Watch TV"
"Watch HD TV"
"Listen to CD"
"Listen to Radio"
"Light Control"

So pressing say "Play DVD" sets every piece of equipment to the right setting and now turns the lights down to a good "watching" level. The remote also leaves the most common buttons active for the right equipment. So pressing "menu" will take you to the menu screen on the DVD. Pressing volume will turn up/down the H/K receiver, etc.

You normally use the remote in an "activity" mode and leaves the common buttons you might need active, but you can also select "equipment" the choose your particular piece you want (say DVD player) and get to every button that might have been on that OEM remote. You can easily move buttons around, change menus, etc.

Keep in mind setting the basics is very easy. But then you can go in add customize things. For example I wanted some arrow buttons to always control the lights no matter what mode or equipment was being used. This was easy to set up. The remote also has a very "wide field of vision" so even tho my PJ is on the ceiling and behind, I have never had it miss turning something on/off or whatever.

I highly recommend the remote. Some buttons are a little small and early on their were some quality issues with bad charging craddles and battery not fitting tight. But love the remote.

I consider myself a budget guy and always looking for the best deal. However, I ended up spending nearly full price for the remote (around $150) and still think it is worth every penny.

BTW if you are curious has to how it sets what up, you can go to the Harmony site and "test drive" programing, etc.
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Old 09-21-06, 12:38 PM
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I will look at that. I tend to worry about recharging things. Eventually the battery may die. Is it replaceable?
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Old 09-21-06, 12:49 PM
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Another thing I have thought of. My receiver has an "override" button that goes to the 6.1 input. So no matter if you have it on TV or DVD, or anything else, you push that button and you go to the 6.1 input (which is what my computer is on). As a result, a macro wouldn't work because what you press to get to watch a dvd depends on whether or not the override is on.
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Old 09-21-06, 01:03 PM
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Originally Posted by kvrdave
I will look at that. I tend to worry about recharging things. Eventually the battery may die. Is it replaceable?
Yes, you can easily replace the battery. It looks like the battery that goes in a cordless phone.
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Old 09-21-06, 01:08 PM
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Originally Posted by kvrdave
Another thing I have thought of. My receiver has an "override" button that goes to the 6.1 input. So no matter if you have it on TV or DVD, or anything else, you push that button and you go to the 6.1 input (which is what my computer is on). As a result, a macro wouldn't work because what you press to get to watch a dvd depends on whether or not the override is on.
I'm not exactly sure what you are saying, however I have read many a easy work around for things such as this.

One option is to set up two different activities (macros). One for when 6.1 is pressed or one where 6.1 is not pressed.

You can also easily set up steps additional steps in the macro. Maybe you could add a step to always go to 6.1 no matter what activity you press.

I don't know for use if the Harmony would work for you. We love ours. You might consider getting one of the mid range Harmony's from say Best Buy and try it. I bet you would be surprised what it can do. Also if you go to remote central web site and AVS, there are lots of tips and tricks on getting the most out of the remote.
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Old 09-21-06, 01:56 PM
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My Harmony 680 has a pretty wide range for coverage. The fucker drains batteries pretty fast though. I have to replace the batteries about once per month. The activity buttons are pretty cool.
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Old 09-21-06, 01:57 PM
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I have an 880 and love it as well. Turns everything to the right inputs, controls audio through the receiver, channels through the DVR, etc.

Also works very nicely with the D-Link media player and my HTPC I have attached. Couldn't ask for anything else really.
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Old 09-22-06, 02:35 PM
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I have the Harmony 659, its a great remote but if I had to do it again I would have bought the higher model. I too consider myself thrifty when it comes to extravigant purchases. I mean do I really need a $150 remote? But it turns out I did. I had 5 or 6 remotes going and a wife and 3 kids that had to use them. Needless to say no one was watching anything until I got home. They can watch TV, a movie or turn on the Xbox with a simple push of a button. And it controls the lights. Next to my motorcycle its the coolest thing I own. Now about a better model. The 659 sucks through batteries, and you can always tell when they are going because the remote gets crazy. So I keep a stash of AAA baterries around. The only other problem is the "activity" buttons are not lit up so it makes them hard to see. But its not a huge deal, I'm not going to upgrade becuase of that. The remote was simple to program and simple to use.
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Old 09-22-06, 04:18 PM
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I have the 659 too. I haven't noticed the batery problem, but I've only had it for about a month. The buttons are a bit small, but I am very pleased with my purchase.
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Old 09-22-06, 04:26 PM
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I have the 676 and love it. It doesn't seem to drain batteries that quickly and it gives FULL functionality on all remotes, so don't even worry about that. Get it (or the 680 or 880 or whatever) and you'll love it and never look back.
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Old 09-22-06, 04:44 PM
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Red Dog & VitiminJ,

Big universal remotes demand rechargeables. For about the price of alkaline for a year, you can get some that will last a decade or more. Probably longer than the remote. Those models have a backlight, right? The light sucks more power than a month's worth of button pushing.
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Old 09-22-06, 05:09 PM
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Originally Posted by Spiky
Red Dog & VitiminJ,

Big universal remotes demand rechargeables. For about the price of alkaline for a year, you can get some that will last a decade or more. Probably longer than the remote. Those models have a backlight, right? The light sucks more power than a month's worth of button pushing.
I've been thinking about getting some good rechargables, but don't know the first thing about them. Any suggestions?
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Old 09-23-06, 11:23 AM
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I just got the 890 and I'm really liking it so far. I'm having trouble getting it to turn on my Denon AVR3805 but I imagine I'll get that worked out. I like the rechargable concept but don't like having to keep it in the cradle connected to an outlet. The buttons are also kind of small and take some getting used to. I went with the 890 over the 880 to get RF capabilty because I wanted to use it without careful pointing at the devices. I have discovered that I can do this without even hooking up the included RF device and I think I could have saved money and gone with the 880. The activities feature is a life saver for my wife and convenient for me too.
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Old 09-24-06, 01:05 AM
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Originally Posted by VitiminJ
I've been thinking about getting some good rechargables, but don't know the first thing about them. Any suggestions?
It seems that almost any NiMH battery can be good, (you don't want the older NiCad, stick with NiMH) if your charger makes the most of them. Maha chargers are the best, can be found at www.thomas-distributing.com. (top-rated store, excellent service) If you get one of these, it hardly matters what battery you buy. I've got at least 4 different brands of AA and AAA and none of them stand out as being better or worse after a couple trips through the charger. The charger can "fix" bad batteries. I had some that were a little underpowered at first, but now I don't see a difference between them and others.

There are various levels of power in the batteries, rated in mAh. But for remotes you won't need much power, you can save some on some lower power models. If you plan on using it in a remote control car or a camera flash, go for as much power as you can get.

The Maha 204F charger is now under $20. I think I paid almost $40 for mine and I consider it worth every penny. You do have to charge 2 or 4 batteries at a time with this model. The more expensive 4xx and 8xx series allow you to charge 1, 2, 3, or more at a time.

I think I'm going to get my next purchase from all-battery.com, they have nice prices when buying bundles of several batteries. But I don't have any personal experience, yet. Reviews of the store seem good.

Last edited by Spiky; 09-24-06 at 01:07 AM.
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Old 09-24-06, 01:22 AM
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I agree with everything Sdallnct said. Most of my equipment is behind me, and the remote will operate them 98% of the time. If it doesn't, there is a help button that walks through a couple of steps, until you get the desired result.

I've had it a year or so, and it hasn't caused me any problems yet.
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Old 09-24-06, 11:24 AM
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I have had the 659 version for nearly 2 yrs and remain very happy with it. I haven't found it eating batteries that often. For me there is no reason to move to the higher priced models. It controls what I want controlled. The activity buttons could not make things easier.

I also want to say how much I love Harmony remotes in general. Yesterday I picked up a new set-top box from my cable company. When I first hooked it up I had to use 3 separate remotes to turn on the TV,receiver and box. It made me crazy. Literally 10 minutes on the Logitech site and I had the new box info entered and the remote again programmed. It controls all my new DVR functions fine and I am happy again. I consider my Harmony remotes one of the best investments in entertainment I have ever made.
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Old 09-25-06, 11:10 AM
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Originally Posted by Gojhawks
I have had the 659 version for nearly 2 yrs and remain very happy with it. I haven't found it eating batteries that often. For me there is no reason to move to the higher priced models. It controls what I want controlled. The activity buttons could not make things easier.

I also want to say how much I love Harmony remotes in general. Yesterday I picked up a new set-top box from my cable company. When I first hooked it up I had to use 3 separate remotes to turn on the TV,receiver and box. It made me crazy. Literally 10 minutes on the Logitech site and I had the new box info entered and the remote again programmed. It controls all my new DVR functions fine and I am happy again. I consider my Harmony remotes one of the best investments in entertainment I have ever made.

That's that best thing about the Harmony - DVR functionality was the most important issue for me. It is very easy to fully control my cable DVR and Replay TVs with it.


It seems that almost any NiMH battery can be good, (you don't want the older NiCad, stick with NiMH) if your charger makes the most of them. Maha chargers are the best, can be found at www.thomas-distributing.com. (top-rated store, excellent service) If you get one of these, it hardly matters what battery you buy. I've got at least 4 different brands of AA and AAA and none of them stand out as being better or worse after a couple trips through the charger. The charger can "fix" bad batteries. I had some that were a little underpowered at first, but now I don't see a difference between them and others.

There are various levels of power in the batteries, rated in mAh. But for remotes you won't need much power, you can save some on some lower power models. If you plan on using it in a remote control car or a camera flash, go for as much power as you can get.

The Maha 204F charger is now under $20. I think I paid almost $40 for mine and I consider it worth every penny. You do have to charge 2 or 4 batteries at a time with this model. The more expensive 4xx and 8xx series allow you to charge 1, 2, 3, or more at a time.

I think I'm going to get my next purchase from all-battery.com, they have nice prices when buying bundles of several batteries. But I don't have any personal experience, yet. Reviews of the store seem good.
So you buy this charger, and you just put in the regular alkaline batteries in it for recharge? Hmmmm.
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Old 09-25-06, 04:11 PM
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No, no. NiMH batteries in the charger, available everywhere. (or older NiCD, but no reason to get these) There are chargers that can recharge alkaline, but you are basically setting a time bomb by using one since alkaline are meant to be "used once". They could leak or explode by doing this.
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Old 02-10-07, 02:03 PM
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Has anyone seen/used the Harmony 720? Costco just started selling them, but I can find very little info about them. They aren't even listed on the Logitech website! I'd like to see how they compare to the 880 which I can get for about the same price. Also, can anyone tell me if the buttons on the 880 are backlit?
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