I hate my remote

The Logitech Harmony 880 is a hugely popular universal remote control. After reading rave reviews online, and extensively reviewing the alternatives, I decided to purchase one several years ago. It’s not inexpensive, currently selling for $229.99 at Amazon. That’s more than an entry-level, current-generation iPod Touch. I paid a bit less, but it’s a lot of money regardless, especially for a remote that was released in 2005. Most reviews justify the price by highlighting its extensive programmability via a relatively friendly computer-based interface. The remote is oriented around “actions”, so I can press one button (e.g. “Watch Apple TV”) and my remote will send appropriate commands to turn on my TV, set it to the correct input, turn my receiver to the correct setting, and turn on my Apple TV. Sounds wonderful, right?

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If I don’t have the remote pointed in just the right direction, one of the devices might miss the signal and my setup ends up in a Frankenstein-like mishmash of settings – the Apple TV’s on but the receiver is still set for my Blu-Ray player while my TV remains off. Even though a failure is usually evident early in the process, I have to wait for the remote to complete it’s sequence before I can turn everything off and try again.

The lady doth protest too much, right? I should just get off the couch and set everything up manually. Unfortunately, that’s not even possible – many of today’s components require the remote to access many functions (including, in my TV’s case, turning on from sleep mode).

The remote is frustratingly sluggish, often causing me to overshoot while attempting to navigate a list of options. While the Harmony comes with what should be an elegant charging cradle, the contacts often fail to connect, requiring ginger repositioning to successfully initiate a charge (during which the remote makes a series of annoy and incomprehensible beeping sounds while displaying a “screen saver” – does a remote really need a screen saver?).

Remember that friendly computer-based interface for adjusting your remote? Granted, it’s not frequent that I’d need to adjust a setting, but there’s no way to do this from the remote itself. When I do need to make a change, I need to ensure some custom software from Logitech is installed, remember my rarely-used login to Logitech’s website, and find the mini-USB cable that I know was just here somewhere.

I hope there is something better out there, but I haven’t found it yet.


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