Logitech Harmony, play stump the remote

Logitech Harmony w charger

I’m working on an article about universal remotes, the bane of many yachts (and households). Specifically I’m testing a Logitech Harmony 890, and so far am finding it an amazing solution to just about every problem I’ve had with previous “universals” (lots). If you’re not familiar with the Harmony design, they all have USB ports which you use along with dedicated software and Harmony’s Web site to program the thing for all the devices you want to operate. You can teach it individual commands, but Logitech has thousands of devices already databased, including my particular TV, surround sound system, DVD player, VCR, and Media Center laptop. I’ve checked and know they also have the dedicated receiver in the KVH M3 system. What else should I look for in the lists?


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Ben Ellison

Ben Ellison

Panbo editor, publisher & chief bottlewasher from 4/2005 until 8/2018, and now excited to have Ben Stein as very able publisher, webmaster, and editing colleague. Panbo is going to the next level in 2019 and beyond.

4 Responses

  1. SharonDreams says:

    How about all the mobile electronics that we install in our boats? Specifically the Car Stereos, DVD Players, VCRs etc. made for the Automobile market.

  2. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    Good idea! I see radio and CD units from Clarion, XM, Sirius, Boss, but not PolyPlanar. Once you pick a manufacturer, it doesn’t give a drop down list of models, so those would be helpful for checking deeper. But I also tried “learning” a remote from scratch, and it’s easy. Plus, though I’d given it an odd name (“Garmin 5212”), after about 4 commands learned the software put up a dialog saying something like “this remote seems to be similar to an HPXX000”, which, in fact, is what it is, and did I wish to just try using all its command codes. Friggin smart!

  3. Kees says:

    Hi Ben,
    I’ve been using one of these with some of the repeaters for about 4 months now. It is indeed the first universal at an “affordable” price point that seems to work reasonably well. You can always go to the Crestron level of course, but that’s a whole different ballgame.
    I do have some quibbles though:
    – You need to have internet access for a prolonged time whilst you are programming it. This means in-harbour tinkering only, or at least while you have wireless access. Otherwise it gets very expensive!
    – The Mac client is a lot cruder than the Windows one.
    – What happens when Logitech decides that the webservice for these is no longer in their interest? The remote becomes worthless.
    – The remote is _VERY_ powerful. With some of my originals I really needed to point carefully at the receiving eye, with the Harmony you can forget about pointing (at least in my TV room!)
    – The remote is a lot slower than the original one, at least for my Panny DVR. This is annoying if you’re “typing” a TV program name by picking letters off the screen.
    – The remote has to be programmed with the correct date/time by buttons on the remote(!)
    – My European equipment is not in the “built in” list; some near equivalents but still some annoying differences mean you have to reprogram the entire thing. And we’re talking major brands here (Panasonic, Samsung, Philips).
    Other than that, as I said — it’s the first uni remote I haven’t thrown out after a week or 2!

  4. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    Thanks much, Kees; your comments are much appreciated. I’ve also seen some slowness, particularly when the Harmony commands a favorite channel, but I just learned that we may be able to speed things up by fooling around in Device/Adjust Delays.
    By the way, the draft title of my column is “Universal Aggravation” and we’re working on a opening photo that is much more dramatic than just chucking a remote over the side!

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