Logitech Harmony Remote

I got a good price from eCost.com on a Logitech
Harmony 550 Universal Remote.

I had tried the $20 “universal” remotes and found they didn’t work
with all my devices and didn’t completely emulate even the devices
they did work with.

For instance, I had a Sony remote that
would turn my Sony Receiver from the 1980’s on and off, but not
let me change the FM stations with the numeric keypad. And none
of the cheap ones I bought would work with my cheap Apex DVD

Both the TV remote and the Cable Box remote claimed
to be able to operate the other device. The Cable Box will indeed
turn the TV set off and on, but not select the input or the aspect
ratio, both of which are important if you want to use the TV set
for watching DVD’s. The TV remote never did anything at all for
either the cable box or the DVD player.

So my coffee table
had a forest of remotes and I could never find the right one when
I needed it. I’d read reviews that said the Logitech remotes were
better, but they seemed pricey. I’ve been feeling less poor this
year than for the last two or three years, so when I saw the one
on eCost for less than $50, I ordered it.


It seems to work. It does do all my devices; it lets me change
the FM stations on the receiver; I can tell it “watch TV and it
turns on the TV set and the cable box and switches the TV input to
the right one for the cable box.

Certainly if you have a
device that needs to be programmed, hooking it up to a computer
and running a program is a better idea than trying to enter codes
through a keypad.

The program that’s supplied with the
remote needs a commercial OS (Windows or Mac). Googling did turn
up a command line Linux program that will do some things, but it
sounded harder than finding the right remote in the remote forest.
I didn’t check whether the windows version would run under Wine;
my laptop still has windows on it, so I just boot it into windows
when I need windows to do something. But Logitech should be
encouraged to provide a Linux option.

I’m enjoying using
the remote with just the out-of-the-box programming I did, but it
still needs more programming — I’m going to check whether I
really like having the sound from the TV set played through the
stereo set better than through the TV speakers, and then program
it to also turn on the stereo and switch to the right input

I don’t have the “watch TV” and “Play DVD” settings
set right yet so that I can easily switch between them. But I’m
sure it’s possible.

Some of the programming seems odd —
there isn’t a “power off” button that will work all the devices.
The thing that looks like it should do that is actually an “end
activity” button. So if you’re doing the “watch TV activity, it
does turn off both the cable box and the TV set. But if you
haven’t defined a “Listen to radio” activity, you have to scroll
through 5 or 6 screens on the AV receiver device to find the power
on/off. I think you can fix that by programming some button to be
power on/off, but it seems strange not to have it right there
without doing that.

So on the whole, I recommend the Logitech remotes over the
cheaper ones, if you think programming them to
do what you want will be easier or more fun than finding the
remote you need in your coffe-table remote forest, and if you have
a computer that’s connected to the network running a commercial OS.



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