I’ve written about my love of the Logitech Harmony series of remotes several times, and even covered how to set them up. But for the discerning buyer (or if you’re as detail-obsessed as I am), simply being told something is awesome is not enough. That said, I’ve decided to review the Logitech Harmony 650, which has been a staple of my home theatre system for a number of years. Even though this remote has been in the market for a while, it continues to be one of the best – attractive, simple to use and setup and helps you shelve the 500 other remotes you’ll inevitably have as you expand your home theatre setup.
Logitech’s Harmony series has a number of models at different price points, from the Logitech Harmony 350 (RRP AU$39.95) to the Logitech Harmony Ultimate (RRP AU$399.95). The Harmony 650 fits in nicely at the low-end at a RRP of AU$79.95 but can be found for cheaper online.
Logitech Harmony 650 Overview
- Colour, Backlit screen
- Replaces up to 8 remotes;
- Built-in accelerometer
- Activity macros
- 225,000+ compatible devices
- IR Learning
- Compatible with OSX and Windows
- Powered by 2xAA batteries
Logitech Harmony 650 Review
I like the way the Logitech Harmony 650 looks and feels. The Logitech Harmony 650 looks like the curvier sibling of your standard remote. The black and grey body combined with charcoal buttons is suitably subdued and blends in with the cornucopia of remotes that it’ll eventually be replacing. The curved design feels comfortable to hold, with a weighty base making the remote feel balanced in your hand. However, the remotes length means that even those with the longest of fingers won’t be able to reach all the the buttons without repositioning their hands.
The Harmony 650 also has a basic 1 inch by 1 inch color backlit screen which enables it to display your favourite channel logos, rather than text. Although, I have to say that I have never used that feature. With our modern obsession with touch screens, the lack of one in the 650 may feel “retro” but I can assure you that you won’t miss it.
The top of the remote has predefined activity buttons such as “Watch TV” and “Listen to Music” – more on this activity-based approach later. Underneath is a screen flanked by 4 buttons to select the screen options. There is also left and right buttons to move through additional screens, allowing more options than the 4 initially presented.
The rest of the remote is pretty standard for anyone who has used a modern TV remote – standard DVR functions such as Guide, Info and Menu, media control buttons and the standard numbers. The keybad is backlit with an appealing orange which is bright enough to be seen in the dark but not blinding.
When I originally got my Logitech Harmony 650, setup was handled via the Logitech software. Whilst clunky (and showcasing early 2000’s design), it was functional. This has since been replaced by the much more appealing MyHarmony website. The Logitech Harmony 650 is programmable via the MyHarmony website or application via any internet-enabled Windows or OSX PC, so most users will have no issues getting up and running.
Setting it up via MyHarmony is a case of adding your devices (have your model numbers ready!) and the software will guide you through the process of setting up all the activities you’ll need. If you need more help with this, we’ve already put together a handy guide.
Controls are handled via an “Activity” approach – so rather than using separate modes for each device you have, buttons change based on the activity. For example, selecting “Watch TV” means that the device will emulate the TV remote. If your setup uses an amp for audio, the volume buttons would correspond to your amplifier rather than the TV, making the whole process incredibly simple.
There is a handy “Help” button located at the top of the remote which can “resync” the remote if you have any issues. A simple press brings up a wizard that will step you through how to get all your equipment on the correct inputs. Whilst this is often simple to fix yourself, having a button that cuts down the steps required is an unexpected godsend.
The Logitech Harmony 650 is powered via 2 AA batteries. Battery life is quite good, with at least a month of use before the batteries run dry. However, I recommend investing in some high-quality rechargeable batteries (Such as our favourite Eneloops) to not only lengthen battery life but also reduce operating costs.
I would be wrong to say that everything is perfect however. On occasion, I have noticed some lag between pressing the button and the action occurring on the device. Whilst only a few milliseconds time to time, I have gone to pause a movie on occasion, didn’t get a response and pressed pause again, only to have the movie pause and promptly resume. This is a rare occurrence but worth mentioning nevertheless.
The other issue I have experienced is occasional reboots of the device which causes it to forget the status of your home theatre devices. I have noticed that this tends to occur when the batteries are getting low however, so a quick recharge usually fixes the problem. Others have recommended that putting additional padding inside the battery compartment can resolve the issue. However, there may have been product revisions that have fixed this issue entirely. Regardless, resyncing in these situations is easy due to the “Help” button I’ve mentioned previously.
I’ve recommended these devices to a number of family and friends and everyone has loved them, particularly because they simplify what is traditionally such a frustrating task for many people. You really can’t beat the functionality the Logitech Harmony 650 provides for its price point – which is why I can readily recommend it.
- Controls 8 devices, covering most home theatre devices
- Wide compatibility with over 225,000 devices supported
- Backlit buttons
- Super-simple, activity-based controls
- Low resolution screen
- Occasional issues with rebooting
- Rare lag