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User reviews for the Harmony 659 / H659 / SST-659 from Logitech.
Average: 3.91/5.00 Median: 4.33/5.00
The Harmony H659 remote control features simple Internet-based programming via USB, Smart State control for easy system automatation, full backlighting, a redesigned user interface and a large complement of hard buttons!
The reviewer has used this remote control for 1-2 years.
Review 88 made on Friday April 18, 2008 at 12:17 AM.
whole bunch of cheap universals
from the button layout to the programming
Nothing more than to have a remote that you can't even get the simple things like volumes and power working. I just want to be able to press ONE power button and have the TV and home theater turn off and on. JESUS is this too much to ask for when you pay over $100
The reviewer has used this remote control for 6-12 months.
Review 87 made on Friday July 20, 2007 at 11:02 AM.
Home Theater Master MX-600 Home Theater Master MX-500 Sony RM-VL710
Backlit Buttons Ergonomics - Light weight, aesthetics (nice shape and dimensions), feels very nice in the hand Good location for volume and channel buttons
Web based programming can be troublesome for non-name brand products. Not a good remote for controlling single functions (as opposed to doing what it does best, namely, macro functions) A bit of a pain when one of the macro functions gets missed (such as forgetting to turn off one of the components when shutting down the home theater)
I originally purchased this remote for my wife (the kids actually have superior electronic toy acumen than my wife, so they didn't need this remote). In theory, this remote was supposed to make managing our secondary theater easier for my wife. I'm sorry to say that it has not worked out quite as I had hoped.
Setting up the 659 was problematic with two of my components (Olevia H537 LCD TV and a Panasonic dual deck DVD-R/VCR). Also, the remote did not properly controll all of the functions on my Pioneer VSX-84TXSi Receiver. It had no problems controlling my Sony DVD player, however.
The real trouble began when I replaced one of my original components and had to reprogram the remote, via the web. I found the whole process more frustrating than simply reading the manual on my other remotes and programming macros into them. The whole idea of the remote is that it has preprogrammed macros (turn on all needed components to watch TV and set receiver to proper input, etc.), so that the end user does not have to do the programming. My experience is that it was easier for me to program those macros on other remotes than it was to do the web based programming on the Harmony 659 (mostly as a result of my non-name brand components).
Also, if I wanted to go from watching a DVD movie to watching TV, I had to shut everything down and restart in "watch tv" mode. It could be done differently but required non-intuitive steps.
Finally, if my wife pressed the "shut-off" button, (when she was doen watching TV) and put the remote down BEFORE THE MACRO HAD COMPLETED IT'S TASK, the last step of the macro would be incomplete. In this case, the satellite receiver would still be on. Then when somebody else came in and pressed the "watch tv" button, on the 659, it would turn everything else on but turn the satellite receiver off!
I love the size, feel and weight of this remote, as well as the backlit buttons. Unfortunately, what I love about the remote is outweighed by the headaches involved in making it functional. A great concept, on paper, did not translate to a great experience with the remote "in the real world."
Ultimately, I ended up purchasing a Sony RM-VL710 for less than $20. It does everything that I wanted the Harmony 659 to do and does it better. It is not backlit, it is not as pretty or as light, but it functions better. It also executes the macro functions much faster so we don't have that problem of leaving one of the components left on when the system is shut down.
I've had two of these remotes for about 18 months. They perform well and show no sign of aging. The only minor complaint would be battery life, but its not a huge issue. I've never lost the programming during a battery change. The Harmony "activity" based design is a real family pleaser, making it easy for the most technically challenged to operate a complex setup. I have two of these remotes, one in a vacation home. I never get calls from guests asking how to operate the home theater system there.
But that is where the success story ends. Based on my positive first experience, I soon purchased a second Harmony for my primary home. Oops! The initial setup was difficult on the second remote. Like many here, I spent way too many hours futzing with the web-based interface. However, tech support was quick and efficient when I called 18 months ago.
Fast forward to yesterday, when I purchased a new TV. The rest of the existing setup remained the same. How hard could this be? (Don't be snickering, now). The TV went in flawlessly, but in the 18 months since I initially set up the system, someone screwed around with the descriptors for two of my other devices, the satellite box and the VCR. That is a huge problem with the "Wikipedia" style Harmony uses to build its device database. Now those two devices cannot be controlled correctly. All attempts to change the descriptors were futile. In addition, Logitech changed their software so that the "soft" buttons do not stay where you put them. The software decides their order based on an algorithm I have yet to figure out. That means if you want a soft button to always be in the same place for all activties (e.g. an aspect ratio button), you can't do that any longer.
Tech support has gone into the sewer. Where once they were fast, efficient, and knowledgeable, now you wait forever, then get some who can only work from a script. I was bumped to tier 2 support, but will have to wait 24 hours, when they will dutifully call my home number while I am at work. They weren't even willing to change the contact number. Totally useless.
This would be a great remote if Harmony would get on top of the database and programming interface problems. If they did that, they would save so much from reduced tech support calls that they could afford to hire good people again. Because of the database, programming, and tech support problems, I can't rate this remote very highly. Too bad, because its a great remote when it works.
The reviewer has used this remote control for under 1 month.
Review 85 made on Thursday January 18, 2007 at 4:21 PM.
original equipment remotes supplied with the products
Now that I've finally got it configured for my 5 devices, it works like a champ. I've been able to put away the other remotes and only need them for configuration type things where it's not really worth trying to program the 659 for infrequently used functions.
My wife really likes the one button on/off that turns on everything she needs on, no more trying to figure out which buttons to press.
Volume/mute/channel buttons to "low" i.e., too close to your palm and not your finger tips. Most people use the volume/mute/channel buttons more than all others combined. When I hold the remote in a natural position in my hand, my fingers are no where near those three buttons. Also, what's with making so many buttons all the same size? Try pressing the correct button in the dark by only a finger touch.
For the most part, I really like this remote and since I only paid $95 delievered, I'm really happy with my purchase.
One big suggestion for Logitech, give users an "Advanced" mode for setup, as a software eng. I'm used to just going in and changing what I need to tweak. I don't want to walk through every menu option to get to the one I want to change. I found this very frustrating and far too much of a pain. I spent about 4 hours fiddling around trying things that should have taken much less time. Let me make my changes and save them ALL at once. I had to play around with the TV input settings since my TV does the input button/arrow right or left/select thing. It took forever to get right and even the Logitech support guy couldn't figure it out. I finally stumbled on how to fix it and had it working within a few minutes. I found myself working around their interface since it forced you to go through every single screen every time. The update interface is the only thing keeping me from giving the features 5 stars. It's a great product that does what it supposed to do.
Mitsubishi DLP TV DishNetwork Sat. Yamaha Reciever Yamaha DVD player Panasonic VCR
The reviewer has used this remote control for under 1 month.
Review 83 made on Tuesday December 19, 2006 at 12:20 PM.
Radio Shack smart remotes, RCA dumb remotes, OEM remotes
Worked first time out, simplifies my life.
Haven't got it to power-up or down Denon 5 CD changer yet. Exact model number was not shown on menu.
I decided to go Harmony route after a friend raved about his, and a low-tech relative began to live with us and couldn't master the sequences needed to launch sattelite TV. I concluded the 659 did all I wanted and more, and was less expensive than the new color screen models. Purchased two on eBay at average price of $64 each delivered, one for 6 device theater and one for 4 device living room. Took Logitech test-drive and entered all device info and desired responses on Sunday, Theater remote arrived on Monday, powered it up, downloaded the settings, and bingo, everything works from one command for activities, with more device control than I ever knew I had.
The reviewer has used this remote control for under 1 month.
Review 82 made on Monday November 6, 2006 at 8:46 PM.
RCA Universal Custom 8
Works perfectly, very intelligent operation, help button truly solves problems
long setup time
I've wanted a Harmony Remote for over a year. I finally decided to sink the $140 for a Harmony 659, and I am extremely impressed and very satisfied with it.
Why did I finally spring for (in my mind) such an expensive remote? For years I've lived with my old RCA Universal Custom 8, surfing devices, and was happy. However, within the past year, I built a MythTV rig, since paying a monthly service fee for a DVR really burns me. I control my MythTV via a Hauppauge WinTV-PVR-350 remote, and my old RCA remote doesn't have the Hauppauge remote's setup & layout built in. I could have programmed it via it's IR learning function, but decided instead to invest in a new remote.
I obtain the Harmony 659 from CompUSA, bring it home, and quickly scan the instructional leaflet. It warns me to gather all of the model numbers from my components before I start, but I think to myself, "bah! I'll grab them as I go." Well, as I got into the wizard-based setup of the Harmony Remote, I realized that gathering the model numbers from my old components was rather a big job, since it's all encased in an entertainment center, and, being all wired up, does not lend itself to being pulled out to peer at the back of the devices. So with a mirror, a flashlight, and a small camera, I finally got all of the model numbers (probably a couple of hours spent on the model number trek).
Once I had all the model numbers for my components in hand, running through the Logitech setup wizard was a bit cumbersome, but not quite annoying. The wizard is easy to use, but if you have to run through it more than once, it does become repetative and boring. Nonetheless, once through, and the remote worked pretty well.
My setup is low-end, and most of my components are quite dated. My old TV has one input: coax. In order to switch between VCR, DVD, and DVR, I run everything through my old VHS VCR, which gladly accepts composite video from other devices and forwards the signal to my TV via coax.
That said, I need to set my TV to ch#3, VCR to input 2, and stereo to input VCR to watch my DVR. I figured, that's about the most complicated setup I have, so I try that first. I hit the activity button I have mapped to DVR, and the VCR and stereo come to life, but my TV remains dark. I press the help button on the remote, and I hear the TV click on, while the remote says, "Did that fix the problem?" I select yes, and from then on, the remote works just as I want it to...
... except that it wants to turn my DVR off when I'm not using it. I don't want it to do this. Additionally, it's default time delay between button presses for my DVR is 500ms, which is too long for my taste. After reading the review of this remote on Remote Central, I found the "advanced settings" for my DVR device. I set it to leave my DVR on all the time, and rediced the time delay between button presses for my DVR to 200ms.
So, probably a grand total of 6 hours toying with the Harmony Remote 659, and it now works perfectly, and, I might say, even better than I expected.
As I stated up front, I'm very pleased with this remote, and feel it's worth the $140 (after tax) price tag.