It seems like my home theater spawns remotes like Gremlins fed after midnight. Every time I sit down it seems I find another remote and its getting to the point that my wife is going to snap. She seems to always grab the wrong remote for whatever it is she is trying to do. In an effort to make both of our lives easier I decided to give a serious universal remote a go, not one of those cheap things you can buy in the checkout line at the local discount store.
This is one of the top of the line remotes from Logitech’s Harmony series, the Harmony 890. If you want to cut a few remotes from your home theater read this review.
I still have nightmares of entering what seems like thousands of codes into the first universal remote I programmed. I am glad to say that the Harmony 890 is nothing like that. In fact you don’t have to enter one single code. This remote programs via USB from your PC with the Logitech Harmony Software included with the remote. Adding your devices is as easy as choosing the manufacturer from a drop down list and then entering the model number. The software does the rest and installs the commands and frequencies automatically. All you have to do after choosing your components in the software is hit the update button. The software will tell when to connect the 890 and the A/V bridge to the included USB cable for programming.
You can control up to 15 devices from the Harmony 890 from your TV and cable box to your compatible lights and even appliances. You can go so far as to set up activities, which you can think of as macros, which will allow you to perform a task at the press of a button. Say you are the home automation type and you want to set up an activity for watching a movie. Imagine hitting one button and having your TV change to the correct input, your AV components come on and set themselves to the correct inputs, your lights dim automatically, your pop corn popper turn itself on. You get the idea; one button press gets the show going literally.
Mortal remotes use AA or AAA batteries to operate, but the Harmony 890 utilizes a rechargeable battery like a portable phone. The good part is that you never need to buy replacement batteries. The bad part is that if you forget to recharge the remote for a few days you may find yourself out of luck when it comes to movie night. If you like to watch TV or movies in a dark room most remotes give you cheesy glow in the dark keys, if you are lucky, many just leave you in the dark. Logitech gifted the Harmony 890 with a backlit color LCD screen and back lit keys so you can watch in total darkness and operate the remote without issue. The backlighting is designed to turn itself off in about 20 seconds to conserve battery life. However, there is also a motion sensor built-in so when you pick the 890 up the backlighting comes on automatically.
|Logitech Harmony 890 in Charger
The LCD screen makes it very easy to navigate the large number of keys and commands typical electronic devices have. Each screen has eight commands that you activate by pressing the key associated with that command on the side of the LCD screen. There are also large dedicated buttons on the remote for menu, exit, guide, and info. In addition to those keys there is also a full number pad as well as keys for fast forward, rewind, play, pause and stop, all the keys you would find on a VCR or DVD remote.
On the off chance that your components are not on the Logitech list that has 5000 plus manufacturers and 175,000 plus devices listed, the remote also has the ability to learn IR commands easily if you have your original remote. All you need to do is hold your components original remote about two inches from the Harmony 890 while the Harmony Remote Software is running and you then press the correct button on the original remote and you can save them to the 890 and tell the software what the command is supposed to do.
In addition to the 890’s IR ability it is also a RF remote for communicating with components without line of sight. If you have your receiver in a different room or behind doors the Harmony 890 will still fully operate the equipment via the Wireless A/V bridge receiver. The A/V bridge is programmed via USB and the Harmony Remote software just like the 890 is. You can choose which components need to be controlled by the RF bridge and which need to be controlled via the Harmony 890 itself.
The A/V bridge works by taking the RF signals from the 890 and turning them into IR signals that your components can understand. The bridge has four ports on it that can each operate two of the included IR transmitters. Plug all for of the dual transmitter IR devices in and you can control eight components from another room without line of sight.
- Easy to program
- Lots of features and functionality
The Logitech Harmony 890 is easily the best universal remote I have ever seen or heard of. The ease with which you can program the 890 is quite impressive considering the in depth functionality of the remote. The ability to control your components without line of site is also fantastic. Overall the Logitech 890 Advanced Universal remote is a fantastic device that serious home automation users or home theater owners will want to invest in.
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