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Intrigue eventually released a less expensive model combining the new case with the old number of buttons, but anyone shopping for an advanced remote would be immediately drawn to the impressive SST-768’s well-balanced design and decorator-approved trio of available colors.
As the first successful producer of activity-based remote controls (the Harman/Kardon Take Control never really caught on) and a young company to boot, Intrigue Technologies has kept up a surprisingly active new product release schedule. After an overwhelmingly positive response to the SST-768, the company now has a brand new model nipping at its heels: the $199 USD MSRP Harmony SST-659. Although not intended to replace the SST-768 – in fact the SST-659 is positioned in a lower and less expensive series – this latest Harmony is nonetheless a strikingly designed remote control.
When you need a little more.
Physically, the SST-659 is the largest Harmony remote control to date and also has the greatest number of hard buttons. Elegantly curved on all edges (even the square frame around the LCD is arched), the SST-659 is finished in complementary tones of charcoal grey and silver. Another noticeable change over previous models is the positioning of the LCD screen – at the top! Traditionally, Harmony remotes have placed their display at the bottom of the remote. Almost everyone unfamiliar with the Harmony’s layout would pick it up upside down, with the screen at the top, before realizing their mistake. This new placement is certainly more customary and, while it does mean one less “unique” thing about the Harmony’s design, this is probably one place where it’s good to match the status quo!
The SST-659 measures exactly 8” long, 2.27” wide and 1.24” thick (20.3cm by 5.8cm by 3.1cm), but due to its shapely design those measurements shrink to as little as 1.90” wide (4.8cm) and 1.00” thick (2.5cm) around the midpoint. The remote is fairly light, weighing in at only 4.09 oz (116 grams) without batteries, or 5.79oz (164 grams) with the four included AAA cells. The remote is well weighted, with the balancing point approximately two-fifths of the way up from the bottom.
A remarkable 51 buttons are provided – that’s 16 more than the SST-768, and 37 more than the first Harmony (even taking the former 3-way scroll wheel and side buttons into account). The whole “minimal buttons” concept has certainly been swept aside! Although fewer buttons would hypothetically mean a simpler-to-use remote control, not having enough buttons for all needed functions can make things more difficult. If all you wanted was to scroll through channels and change the volume, a 5 buttoned remote would be adequate. But when you need to control function-laden electronics such as a digital video recorder or DVD player, direct access to more buttons is a vital requirement.
For the first time, the Harmony has a complete quartet of control, a set of the four most important button clusters. Namely: menu, transport, keypad and channel/volume. This means that far less time will be spent finding the control you need; now nearly everything of importance is available right up front.