Logitech® Harmony® Remote 688
Logitech has recently introduced a new universal remote control that is designed to be easy to use, yet powerful enough to control virtually any A/V component in your system. Universal remotes are nothing new and some companies have taken it to the limit with exotic versions that cost in excess of $1000. The problem is as they get more sophisticated, so does the programming, which makes it difficult for the average user to get the most out of the product. Logitech took a slightly different approach with their new Harmony® line of universal remotes. The Logitech® Harmony® Remote 688 we are reviewing here offers control over virtually all of our components (there are many) without the painful task of customizing the display. Logitech has a convenient website specifically designed for setting up the remote where users define each of the components in their system. The configuration data is compiled and then transmitted to the remote where it is stored in flash memory. This also prevents the data from being lost if the batteries run down.
If you are like me, you'll soon find that some of the predefined soft key settings are not named well. In addition, the space allocated for each name on the remote display is limited to eight characters despite what is displayed on the configuration screen when setting up the remote. Many of the names assigned to our Parasound A/V processor resulted in the names being truncated on the LCD screen. I found myself having to rename many of the keys to make them useable on the remote. For example, several keys have similar names such as Input Audio 1, Input Audio 2, etc. Yet, all of the names show up on the remote display as Input Au, making it impossible to differentiate the functions. Other names are more subjective, some of which we liked and disliked, so it is nice that the Logitech offers the flexibility to change the names. The remaining buttons on the remote are assigned specific functions and cannot be changed. While we liked the way some of the buttons were arranged, others were less than ideal. This is obviously subjective to a large degree.
We did run into an issue with the software when we accidentally named one of our components Processor, which was already used in some of the default settings. The result of this action caused an error while compiling the data for downloading. I had to call Logitech's Toll-free Help Line for support and it was resolved rather quickly. In fact, I was very impressed with the level of customer service for this remote and yet there was virtually no wait on the phone. Other than that, the software worked well and the installation was uneventful. Since the remote uses a Microchip processor with reconfigurable program memory, it is capable of having the firmware updated. This greatly improves the ability to fix any bugs as they are discovered. We can't emphasize enough the benefit of having firmware that is upgradable.The remote also has excellent range and provides a strong IR signal to components. In fact, in some cases it was far better than the factory remote.
The downside is that some esoteric components may have to be programmed manually using the remote's learning capability. If you choose to use the default database without any modifications, you might find yourself a little frustrated with the naming and arrangement of the soft keys. The LCD screen could also be a bit larger and provide more resolution for longer soft key names.
We think Logitech did a wonderful job with this product and while there is room for improvement, the remote serves its purpose well. The price is reasonable and the capabilities and support are excellent. For those looking for a flexible, yet easy to use universal remote with support for virtually any A/V component, the Harmony 688 will deliver.
- Kevin Nakano
Optoma H77 High-Definition
|Review at a glance|
Part Number 970115-0403
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