Tuesday, 21 August 2007

Logitech Harmony 890 and Logitech Harmony 880

Fancy exchanging all of your remotes with just one unit? Forget about separate remotes for TV, Radio, iPod, DVD player and most of your other gadgets?

To that I can only say... I do...

So I have been through a range of Universal Remotes, from Kameleon to high end Marantz and Philips Pronto expensive programmable remotes.

The first thing that hit me was all the touch screen based remotes was they are actually unusable for me. I like to be able to find buttons by feeling and not by looking at a screen. So any remote without real buttons turned out to be a no go. You can survive with a couple of buttons like volume or change program – but real buttons beats them all. So out went the Kameleon, Marantz and Philips Pronto, despite the heavy price tag.

Programming them was a hell to btw. You have to do so much manual labour to get them to work as an integrated solution. Not really what I fancy spending my time. I gave the Philips Pronto a last chance when they came out with the RF based version where you via radio waves can send remote control messages to other "remote" locations via Radio waves – so I could control my skylight in my bathroom from my Remote. But once again I quickly found that programming the Pronto was more of a headache, than I liked. So it went on the growing "slightly used gadget shelf" not to be ever seen by daylight again.

The Logitech Harmony 880

Then my world changed. I got a Logitech Harmony 885 (equal to the Harmony 880 in the US). The setup was a "reasonable" bliss. Using the Harmony Manager for the pc you setup the remote by telling the software which devices you have. Then the Logitech software downloads the "Remote" codes from their gigantic database of devices. On top of that – Logitech then analyses your setup and proposes "ideal" setups for you, asking you which "main" devices is used for sound and display and how the Logitech should change between the input sources.

So in about 30 minutes you have your entire home control setup. And you can just press "Watch Television" and the Harmony 880 turns on the TV and your surround sound system, and tunes both to the right settings. Press "Play a PS/2 game" and the Harmony 880 switches input on your surround system to the PS/2 and changes TV to PS/2 – and turns on the PS/2 Slimline. (Old PS/2s do not have Infrared receiver without extra hardware) Great show! J

I won't dig into technical details about the specifications etc. since so many other sites deals with that. All I can say is user experience is very good. The Software could use some work to make it faster. Sometimes it is a hog and takes forever to go from screen to screen.

The Bad stuff about Harmony 880 and the Harmony 890.

Well there is no such thing as a free ride. The Logitech Harmony 880 and 890 have some issues that could be better. As I said the PC software for configuring the device is pretty shabby and slow to say the least. Takes a damn lot of resources too. It is good though that your configuration is stored online at Logitech's database, so if you lose your remote, you just login and the configuration is re-downloaded into your remote. But that gives you another problem. Logitech's system only allows you to own one remote.... That being – if you have more than one remote you need different logins at the Logitech "Database". Crap....

I have now bought the 890 which is an 880 with additional RF transmitter / receiver, so I once again can control my skylight in the bathroom remotely. Owning 2 remotes as said was not a breeze with Logitech's software.

But an even worse problem is the build quality of the devices. They could do with some slightly better quality hardware. I could not understand why charging the device in the cradle on both devices was "unreliable" to say the least – and the remote very often "rebooted" – when the remote was moved. I thought I might have bashed them – but both?

So I investigated a bit. And it turns out that after a while the battery compartment seems to lose grips of the battery – leaving the battery to sail a bit around in the compartment. Enough so that the battery sometimes lost contact with the electrical terminals in the remote. That leads to a "remote" reboot when the battery touches the terminals once again.

How to fix the Harmony 880 and Harmony 890

But then I made a quick fix. J I folded some newspaper tight and shoved in between the plastic bezels behind the battery, giving it more "push" force towards the battery terminals on the remote. And since then I have not had a single "reboot" in either remotes. A quick and cheap fix. Just make certain you have read the newspaper you shove in J But again – Gives us a bit better quality please Logitech!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

thank god i found this article. agree on all aspects of it. and now the newspaper trick freed me from a trip to best buy!! tx!!!