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Logitech Harmony 659 Remote Control Review
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Harmony SST-659 Screen Capture.
Changing activity options.
Downloading program guide listings every two weeks isn’t exactly a hassle – that’s only 26 times a year – but it would be nice if the process could be more automated. As it stands now, when the remote connects it automatically brings up the Harmony website, but the website still requires you to log in. After that you must manually select the “Download” link, then wait for it to complete. It would be nice if this could be automated so that when the remote is connected and the Intrigue website is not already active, the entire updating process could complete in the background, without user intervention.

Limitations on the Internet.
One of the main downsides to programming over the internet is that HTML-based user interfaces just aren’t ideal for the types of things that the Harmony really requires. Something as simple in concept as dragging a device command to a new hard button is completely impossible. Adjusting any option requires viewing several screens to find exactly what you’re looking for. Most of the time, there was no way to return to the previous screen – only cancel and return to the home page. Options also automatically return to the home page when complete, even if it would make more sense to return to one of the previous sub-menus.

While programming, several bugs were found: the website would not allow the speed settings to be adjusted for a tape deck; would refuse 100ms as a power-on delay but accept 0ms or 200ms; it crashed when setting up a device with no discrete inputs but a known way to get to a certain input; several targeted help pages were missing. Often when connecting the remote to the computer, XP would flash an error about “USB device not recognized”, but after a couple of seconds it would disappear and the remote would connect normally.

Fortunately, the website is in a constant state of improvement. As bugs are found, they are corrected. As new ideas become workable, they are added. While I understand Intrigue’s devotion to keeping the Harmony a completely Internet-based remote and thus unique in the marketplace, a “real” editing program would go a long way towards making the entire process simpler.

Intrigue Technologies Harmony SST-659
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When you’ve got it, you’ve got it!
Overall, Intrigue Technologies has made significant improvements to the Harmony’s intuitiveness. Users picking up the SST-659 for the first time can be expected to grasp the activity-based concept immediately, while the SST-768 or SST-748 are more likely to require lengthier contemplation and fiddling before their operation becomes clear. Remote navigation is quick, simple and logical. Kudos to those who rethought the process!

Although everything with the Harmony isn’t perfect – and I’ve never seen a remote that could make that claim – the SST-659 represents a significant jump forwards for Intrigue in balancing the best of the activity and device-based worlds. With hard buttons for practically every common function, the SST-659 is also the first Harmony that can truly be called a full-fledged hard buttoned dream.

If you’ve liked the idea of the Harmony in the past but just couldn’t stand to part with your separate menu, transport and keypad buttons, the SST-659 offers an intriguing alternative. For first time buyers, this third-generation Harmony is definitely the easiest-to-use model to date, worthy of serious deliberation.

- Daniel Tonks (Remote Central)

Logitech Harmony 659 Data Box
Price:$199 USD
Contact:   Logitech
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