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  1. #1
    Just passing thru topspeed's Avatar
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    Harmony 880 initial impressions

    Well, I finally broke down and replaced my old Sony RM3000 touchscreen remote with the flavor-of-the-month, the Harmony 880.




    I must say, initial impression are pretty positive. There's definitely some tweaking that needs to be done, but for the most part I'm fairly impressed. It's also nice to have a remote with hard buttons again. Touchscreens may look cool, but being forced to look at it every time you want to change the channel becomes a chore. There's no substitute for tactile feedback.

    Pros:
    * Easy set-up: The internet interface is very user-friendly and downloading the correct commands is a snap.

    * Excellent macros: Labeled "Activities", this process was nothing short of a revelation compared to the hell I went through setting up macros on my Sony. On the latter, I had physically push the buttons...in order...of how I wanted things to operate. With the 880, it merely asks you what the inputs should be set to and figures out the command sequence all its own. Nice. Switching between "Watch TV" to "Listen to CD" the unit knew to shut down the monitor and Sat while switching the AVR to DVD (I use a universal player), turn the DVD on, and push play. That was cool. I think this is one my wife will actually be able to figure out.

    * Favorites with icons: Up to 16 of your favorite channels are stored as hot buttons with color icons (downloadable) so you get to them immediately. This will be a boon for my kids.

    * Motion Sensor: The remote goes black when not in use to save power but comes back on as soon as you move it. Cool.

    * It operates my TV: This isn't as stupid as it sounds. For some reason, my Sony refused to turn on my JVC while using macros. The 880 has no such problems.


    Cons:
    * Small buttons: For example: See that small thin silver band around the screen? There's no less than 16(!) buttons imbedded into that strip. Not the most ergonomic layout I've seen. Better than a touchscreen, but boy are they small

    * Screen too small: This may be a factor of coming from a large touchscreen remote, but cramming 8 commands onto that little screen means most of the words are cropped so bad you don't know what they are anymore.

    * Curious layout to learned commands: I'm hoping there's a way to rearrange the learned buttons, because the website apparently took the shotgun approach to organization. This is particularly prevalent with the AVR controls, as there's something like 13 pages you have to cycle through on the screen and nothing is laid out the way you would expect. For example, if you want to change from DPL2 "cinema" to DPL2 "music", you have to turn on DPL2 on page 2, cycle through to page 8 for "cinema" and/or page 13 for "music". WTF?

    * Touchy charging base: You have to get the remote on there just right or it won't charge.


    That's about all I can think of now. For those of you with this remote, it you have any set-up tips or tricks you learned, I'm all ears...er, rather eyes.
    "If you can leave black marks on a straight from the time you exit a corner till the time you brake for the next turn, then you have enough horsepower." Mark Donohue

  2. #2
    Forum Regular N. Abstentia's Avatar
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    Yeah you can arrange the learned commands however you want, it's just not intuitive. In the setup screen, the learned commands are all in a row, like this:

    A
    B
    C
    D
    E
    F
    G
    H

    But on the remote screen that translates to:

    A B
    C D
    E F
    G H

    I really wish it would show you side by side in the setup screen the way it actually will look instead of up/down where you have draw it out on paper so you can keep it in order.

    As far as the charging base..man that's pitiful. I don't know why they can't do that any better. Everybody that gets an 880 has charging trouble so I just don't understand why they can't fix it. They sent me the new design charging base and it's WORSE than the old one.

    It has a few quirks, but I don't think the 880 can be beat. It's not perfect, but it's close.

  3. #3
    Just passing thru topspeed's Avatar
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    Thanks for the heads-up on the command layout, NA. Not to sound too inept, but where is the ability to move everything around? I went to the device control page but couldn't find anything under "troubleshoot" or "more options." How do I get to the correct page?

    I appreciate the help.
    Last edited by topspeed; 06-10-2006 at 08:13 PM.
    "If you can leave black marks on a straight from the time you exit a corner till the time you brake for the next turn, then you have enough horsepower." Mark Donohue

  4. #4
    Forum Regular N. Abstentia's Avatar
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    What you do is from the main setup screen for the Harmony (the screen you see when you plug it in & log on):

    Under the activity you are dealing with, choose 'customize' then choose 'change the behavior of buttons'. That will bring up the picture of the remote. The screen buttons are down at the bottom arranged like I laid it out above. From there you can put them in the order you want..just remember it goes left right left right and so on.

    Here's another tip for ya...and one that annoys me. I wanted to add 1 button to the screen to cycle through the ProLogicII/DTS Neo DSP's and 1 button to cycle through the stereo settings (my Pre/Pro has differnet levels of processing stereo). Easy enough...1 button does 1, 1 button does the other.

    So I go over to the 3rd column where the commands for my Outlaw pre/pro are, and I map the two buttons..DSP and Stereo. Great. The buttons are there and they work. BUT for whatever reason Harmony chose to make it so when you choose a command from whatever unit controls the volume (in this case my pre/pro) it puts those commands in ALL the activities. Why the hell? I only need to cycle through these modes on certain activities..not ALL. Don't need them for DVD, Xbox, or SACD so it's a waste of buttons because no matter where YOU put them, it puts them on the bottom of the list. Very annoying.

    So if that's a problem for you, just manually learn those controls for each activity you need it for. It's a pain, but not too bad. I'm just anal about my control layout

  5. #5
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    Easiest Thing to Do Is Call them Toll Free

    Harmony's customer service is excellent. I'd write down any specific questions you have & things you want to change & they'll tell you how to do this & in fact if you wish make the changes on their system & all you have to do is download the stuff with them on the phone.
    This is a hell of alot faster & easier in this case then trying to piece together info from the board.

    I'm curious how the 880 compares to my buttons, which are comfortable on my 676. The only problems I have with my Harmony, if you'd call them problems, is on some functions like TV & DVD, I have to click the help button so it turns on the DVR & puts the right input on, but that's no big deal to me as I got the Harmony just to eliminate the clutter of a bunch of remotes & I can do everything on the Harmony.

    My only problem & I need to call them on this, is, because outside of the TV, all my home theater/stereo equipment is the same in both my living room & bedroom which are close by, when I turn the CD on in the living room, it turns the CD player on in the bedroom as well.

    What did you get your 880 for/ If I hadn't had my 676 I would have gotten the 880. THe 676 was about $100 cheaper new online then in chain stores! I have 2 of them- for my two rooms.

  6. #6
    AR Regular Registered Member evil__betty's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by N. Abstentia
    As far as the charging base..man that's pitiful. I don't know why they can't do that any better. Everybody that gets an 880 has charging trouble so I just don't understand why they can't fix it. They sent me the new design charging base and it's WORSE than the old one.
    I've had my 880 since October '05 and wondered why everyone was complaining about the crappy charging base....... until now! Just recently my remote has chosen not to charge when I place it on the base. I have to spend about a minute or two wiggling it until it beeps at me to confirm a connection. Yeesh! Some days are better than others - today, it has chosen to cooperate.

  7. #7
    Forum Regular N. Abstentia's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by EdwardGein

    My only problem & I need to call them on this, is, because outside of the TV, all my home theater/stereo equipment is the same in both my living room & bedroom which are close by, when I turn the CD on in the living room, it turns the CD player on in the bedroom as well.
    That's not a problem with the remote. You need to replace one of the CD players with one that has different remote codes.

  8. #8
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    I should have clarified that the 2 CD players are the same brand & model #.

  9. #9
    Just passing thru topspeed's Avatar
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    NA,

    You are a gentleman and a scholar. If I have time tonight, I'll try to find the correct page per your instructions. Thanks again for the tips.


    Hershon,

    The tweaker in me prohibits me from calling customer service until I've the got the remote FUBAR . Besides, I haven't taken the time to figure out how I want things laid out yet. BTW, I paid $150 from ecost.com.
    "If you can leave black marks on a straight from the time you exit a corner till the time you brake for the next turn, then you have enough horsepower." Mark Donohue

  10. #10
    Forum Regular N. Abstentia's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by EdwardGein
    I should have clarified that the 2 CD players are the same brand & model #.
    Yeah if you got two identical units sitting next to each other one remote will control them both. Not much you can do other than replace one of them.

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