06 12/04

Logitech Harmony 680

I picked up a Logitech Harmony 680 Remote Control while
it was on sale at Amazon last week. I am very happy with
it. I’ve always had problems with universal remotes because they
never seem to feel as good as the original remote. And there’s
always a button or two missing. The 680 feels really good to use,
and it has an LCD screen the hard buttons on the side to accomplish any
task that it does not have keys for.

The 680’s claim to fame is it’s ability to control XP Media Center
Edition (as is evident by it’s big green button). I don’t
actually have a Media Center so I could not test it out (my HTPC uses
an RF remote with some other software). But it controls all of my
other devices just fine. There’s a web interface to configure
your remote and it downloads the configuration via USB. The web
interface found every single device I threw at it (even some stuff I
thought it would never have codes for).

The thing I really like about the remote it’s setup by
activity. You push “Watch TV” and it turns on my TV, turns on my
ReplayTV, and sets the correct TV input. It’s now just one button
to watch TV. Once you are in a specific activity, it can control
multiple devices. In TV mode, for instance, the volume buttons
control the TV’s volume. In movie mode, however, the volume
controls my receiver’s volume. With the ability to assign
activities to the LCD buttons, I can setup enough activities for even
all my devices.

My only complaint with this remote is that it keeps an internal
memory of the state of your devices. It needs to know if each of
them is on or off, and sometimes what inputs are set. This means
that you should not use other remotes or turn the devices off by
hand. It’s not very much trouble to fix if they get out of sync,
but it is a few extra steps. This is not that big of a deal for
me since I hid all my other remotes once I found this one, but it might
be something to keep in mind if you “misplace” remotes a lot and like
using different ones.