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User reviews for the Harmony 688 / H688 from Logitech.
Harmony 688 / H688
RatingsReviewsMSRP (USD)
Average: 3.64/5.00
Median: 4.67/5.00
The Harmony H688's futuristic design includes a wide range of buttons including PVR support, bright backlighting and an interactive LCD screen. Program the H688 over the Internet through the Harmony's unique Web Wizards.
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the Harmony 688 / H688 remote.
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Written by Steve Pasadis from California, USA.
The reviewer has used this remote control for 1-3 months.
Review 6 made on Thursday September 2, 2004 at 12:02 PM.
Strengths:- Smart Technology
- Action/Activity capability
- Button layout for PVR
- Easy to setup for complex audio/video systems
- Web configuration
- Simple for non-techies to use
- Component data base
Weaknesses:- larger buttons would be nice, but OK with layout as it is
Review:The Harmony Remote 688 is a great unit. I used to use 5 remotes to control my A/V system. My wife and kids couldn't figure out "how to turn on the TV and Satellite Receiver" let alone set our system up to watch a DVD through our 6:1 Adcom amp. Now, they only need to press one button and all my components get set to the proper inputs, sound field, etc.

Nothing is ever perfect and neither is this remote. But overall, the Harmony Remote 688 has makes it simpler to control my A/V system and that (to me) is what it is all about.

Functionally, I like the ability to configure the Harmony on-line and take advantage of the huge-component database of remote codes that included all of my components. Didnít find this on with any other remote I looked at.

Sure, the buttons may be small, but it is a small trade-off to get a beautifully functioning remote that makes controlling multiple components easy and fun.
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Written by Adam from Washington D.C..
The reviewer has used this remote control for 1-3 months.
Review 5 made on Thursday August 26, 2004 at 7:10 PM.
Strengths:nice on-line set-up and great customer service.
Weaknesses:SMALL buttons. Never knows what's on, what's not.
Review:Fought with this for almost a month, and gave up. Buttons are ridiculously small and too flat. The earlier model was much easier ; Harmony should look at the TiVo remote for tips on how to design an easy to use remote.

For us, it's back to the Sony Commander AV-3000. Nice, but not a huge fan of the LCD (obviouisly I like my remote to be tactile)
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Written by Alan from Denver, CO, USA.
The reviewer has used this remote control for 1-3 months.
Review 4 made on Thursday July 15, 2004 at 9:13 PM.
Strengths:-No Brainer Smart state functionality that works
-PVR centric buttons with a very useful selection of hard and lcd buttons
-Activity based setup w picture and sound options that make use of the remote very intuitive
Weaknesses:-Button size is too small and are not distinguishable by feel
-Cannot reorder functions on the LCD screen
Review:Remote layout:
Very good placement and selection of hard buttons for a typical Tivo setup. It has transport controls in the middle of the remote along with volume and chnl buttons... perfect for Tivo use. Also has Pg +/- buttons that can be mapped to the Thumbs up/down buttons. Plus there are customizable LCD buttons for any remaining buttons that can't be mapped to the hard buttons.

Initially I thought the picture and sound buttons were a waste of hard button space but after understanding how they are used I really like them. For each activity (for instance Watch Tivo with Receiver) With one button press I can remap the remote to control the TV (picture) or the reciever (sound). Makes it really handy to be able to adjust the surround sound setting of my reciever while watching any source device. Just hit the sound/picture button again to return to the activity button layout. I don't think the media button is very useful on a Tivo-centric remote... Tivo already provides a very good program guide, there isn't much need to have TV listings on the remote.

The downside of the layout is the small button size. I've had the remote for a month now and I can get many common functions by feel but there are a few (like info, menu, exit and guide) that are just about impossible to hit reliably by feel. Luckily the backlight button is nicely placed making it easy to find any button while watching TV in the dark.

Device Codes...
There is a huge selection of codes available on the website for various devices, more often than not discrete codes are available which is nice. Because the codes are generic (i.e. the Yamaha reciever codes are used for all Yamaha recievers, not just the specific model I have) there can be a number of buttons that aren't used in my setup and other buttons that are generically labeled... i.e. my receiver has prologic, theater, etc. DSP modes labeled as surround1, 2, 3, etc. I understand why this is this way but I hope they clean up the device layouts so the buttons functions match
the names on the actual device remotes.

The learning function works very well. I learned the commands from a Sony DVD Recorder and it picked them all up correctly on the first try.

It is also possible to import Pronto Hex... slick. Makes importing discrete codes much easier.

It took a little bit to understand the importance of setting the on/off and input functionality of each device correctly. This is key to the smart-state working correctly. Once I got that figured out the basic programming of the remote was a piece of cake. From there I just had to learn a few esoteric commands from my original remotes and I had to customize the LCD buttons.

I ran into two problems during programming... the website timed out on me when I was trying to change a large number of the buttons on the keymap... I lost changes a number of times... very frustrating.

Second, the order of activities and buttons functions on the LCD screen cannot be customized.

I would expect both of these problems to be fixed before too long.

I did my initial setup and found the remote worked just as I'd hoped (and then some) I didn't really understand how smart-state was going to work but it does make life much easier. I can switch from watching to Tivo to watching DVD and only the components that need to be turned on are turned on.

I hate the small buttons (the buttons on the 659 are about perfect). I like the feel and layout of the remote. I like that the backlight button is easily accessible.

Initially I didn't setup the picture and sound buttons... I thought they were a waste of buttons space. I did take the time to figure them out... and now I love em. When I'm watching Tivo if I want to adjust the convergence on my TV I just hit the picture button to access the TV buttons (the 'picture' device in my watch Tivo activity) so I can adjust my TV without having to get out of the current activity. Same goes for adjusting some of the advanced features of my reciever (the 'sound' device on my watch tivo activity). I now love this feature.

I do still question the usefullness of the media button... every pvr I've used has an on-screen guide... why do I need to download TV listings to my remote?

Overall a very, very good remote with the exception of the small button size... I'm assuming many of the other limitations will be corrected over time with software upgrades/fixes.

I had a Radio shack JP1 remote that could do most of the stuff this remote can for quite a bit less money... but it took me months to set it up, and it still wasn't very intuitive for other people. It did take me a good weekend to get this one setup the way I wanted (I have a fairly complex setup) but it is very easy for others to understand.
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Written by Calvin from Toronto, Ontario.
The reviewer has used this remote control for 1-3 months.
Review 3 made on Saturday May 29, 2004 at 8:15 AM.
Strengths:-Nice feel and evenly weighted
-Back lit is convenient
-Not all that hard to program
-Tones of codes and options
Weaknesses:-The screen only has a limited number of characters you can use
-The buttons are a touch on the small side
-The batteries you first get are dead in the first week
Review:Firstly, I would like to start off by saying what an awesome product. I am quite shocked that the first person who wrote a review didnít like it. I have had almost the same nightmare that the second person had with all his A/V equipment. However, my situation differs, since all my equipment is a higher end; I have had a hard time finding a remote that will have codes for my equipment.

So I used my 6 remotes to control everything; DVD, Digital Cable, TV, Receiver, CD player and Satellite. You canít imagine my familyís frustration trying to watch TV. So I did my research, as usual, and heard about these new remotes. Well I knew I didnít want to spend much, since it doesnít help my sound quality or do anything really valuable (IMHO) but just uncomplicated life, which wasnít worth $1,500 to me, since I knew it just fine.

So I purchased this remote and am totally in love. Now when my grandparents or anyone comes over they donít have to be taught to operate the TV. However another requirement was that I didnít want options or features missing, and this is where the Harmony remote really shows its true colors. I can have all those features, such as changing the resolution on the digital set top box, which is often necessary when watching TV and flipping from HD to regular digital. So I thought this product was right for me, since it did everything that I wanted it too, but is also simply to use for your regular changing channels and adjusting volume. The help button was one of the coolest features too; it does its best to solve any problems.

However, like any product there are some downfalls I found too. The buttons are a touch on the small size, however to combat that, the remote isnít the size of a dictionary, and does feel really nice in your hands. Itís also evenly weighted so when you are holding it, it does feel top or bottom heavy. However, it is a touch on the lighter size, which in the long run is good, considering your arm doesnít get as tired holding it.

The construction, I thought was of impressive grade, compared to other ďuniversal remotesĒ that creak and donít feel sturdy enough. By the way, the batteries that come with it will probably need to be changed with in the first week. At one point, my remote would be lit and look like its working, but wouldnít turn anything on or off. I later found out that it just needed to get new batteries, which I thought was unusual.

The programming of the remote wasnít as bad as I heard it was, but I am also technologically inclined. I think this is where the first reviewer had some of his problems, and I can see and understand what he means, but I still say itís a good way of going about programming it. Especially when you consider that the remote has awesome bang for its buck!

Lastly, the screen has one downfall; when you have your custom buttons in the screens menu, there are only so many characters you can have before it cuts it off. So what ends up happening is you need to use short forms, a small inconvenience when you consider its price. Over all, this product is a life saver for me, when you consider what I wanted in a remote. The product has so much potential to be even better then it is, but I guess we will have to wait and see what happens!
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Written by Mike from Oak Park,IL.
The reviewer has used this remote control for 1-3 months.
Review 2 made on Friday May 28, 2004 at 3:38 PM.
Review:This remote Rocks!! At last a remote that does it all! I cant believe the preveious reviewer hated it! Its the best remote I have ever seen but there was a set up learning curve which was pretty painless....

I have a $10k 50" plasma tv... a tivo/dvd burner, a sony vcr and two cable boxes (One for regular digital which has a better picture and works with the tivo via a serial port and one for HDTV). You can imagine the remote nightmare this is and the switching of remotes and inputs as you go back and forth... With the harmony...the only universal remote taht really works well with a PVR like tivo... you can set up activities which are basically macros that operate whatever you like.. there are 6 programmable LCD commands always displayed and more you can toggle through. Every button is fully tweakable and programmable... its is ergonomic in your hand and the backlit display is awesome! How do you manage all these commands?? on the web!! your harmony remote connects to your computer via a usb cable and you update it in seconds... I hit "Watch TV" and the harmony switches inputs to the HDTV box, turns it on and I can even pick which channel I want it to go to if I like..all pushing one button... when I want to go to tivo, I hit my prgramed activity "Tivo TV" and it turns off the hdtv box, switches inputs and I'm back on tivo... same thing for my vcr and dvd.. Its awesome and totally worth the $200 I paid.. My plasma tv remote is very awkward and will not actually learn commands well... and I cant work the tivo with it. The harmony has a huge database and will program your remote based just on model number... you can also have it learn commands directly from your factory remote and it actually does it!.... I realize this isnt a great detailed review but I am totally impressed at how well it works.. I'm sold on harmony!...BTW my sounds system isnt set up yet but the harmony will also operate all cd players and speaker stereo setups... I first learned of the harmony line from a review on techtv thats on I then learned they had the H688 that woprks PVRs like tivo and had to try it... I have spent $13000 on my video setup and paying $200 to work it all from one well designed remote is totally worth it! BUY IT!

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Written by ronfl from Tampa Bay, FL.
The reviewer has used this remote control for 1-3 months.
Review 1 made on Tuesday May 18, 2004 at 3:27 PM.
Review:I bought the H688 last week (from, tried it this weekend and not too impressed. Sending it back this week.

The pictures shown on the Harmony web site appear deceptive(to me anyway), the buttons look much larger than they actually are. They're really small and hard to find, they are so close together. All the buttons in an oval ring around the joystick are molded from one piece or rubber/plastic so there's really no way to feel the distinction between the buttons other than looking (very closely since they are so small) at the labels. I assume eventually you would memorize the layout but it would take a long time, the tactile response from the buttons also feel "cheap".

The attempt at a joystick/button in the middle is really bad. First it's so tiny(about the size of a dime, maybe a nickel) it's hard to feel which direction you just pushed; almost feels as if it's come loose; really bad attempt on this one Harmony. The last issue was the quality of the case. It feels like real thin cheap plastic where the silver coating would easily scratch or rub off after minimal use (I bought the silver one, not sure about the black one); real bad when compared to the tank like armor of my old MX-500 (Home Theater Master) remote.

The concept of the remote is great, the shape is great (very similar to TiVo "peanut"), the programming is awesome via the Harmony web site, the "Watch" buttons at the top are also cool. I really wanted to like this remote but I just can't do it, too many negatives. I do hope Harmony reviews this forum and takes feedback from users; after some major changes this could be the remote that retires my MX-500...which I love. Until then the MX series, from HTM, is still king of the hill for small home theater & TiVo users, in my humble opinion. (I've also owned the Sony RM-AV2100. Bad attempt at trying to be a Pronto remote. Like holding a book, and a bad book at thatÖreturned this one too.)
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