A little over three years ago I posted about my new Harmony remote – the Harmony Xbox Remote – which held out the promise of a universal smart remote that also played nice with my Xbox.
Now, I have been using Smart Remotes since I hacked my old AR Remote in the 80s, so I always have my expectation set accordingly:
- Smart Remotes are not smart. They are “stateless” and don’t know if any devices are actually on or not
- There’s always a compromise between too many and too few buttons
- They’re always, and I mean always, too complicated for anyone but me to use.
So when I got my hands on the Harmony 650 I was curious what improvements have in the past few years. The 650 is a $99 remote, well proportioned and balanced in the hand, with a nice matte black finish. It has a small color display and the buttons have a good rubber feel to them.
Like other Harmony remotes, you connect this one up via USB to your PC, download the latest software and then walk through a few steps to identify your devices. The 650 has re-chargeable batteries via USB and so far it has been running for weeks with no re-charge.
I did notice that the 650 has very little, if any, lag between button press and device action. My old Harmony has some serious lag which can seriously kill a remotes effectiveness, so kudos to Logitech on fixing that. I am also able to get back to Activities without the remote re-executing the macros. This is a big deal so that it doesn’t accidentally turn off devices that I want to keep on – I just want to get back the Activity menu. The old Harmony had this problem, which was extremely frustrating.
So the big test was setting it up and setting it down – seeing if my family could just use it with no complaints or questions. After a week I asked my son, 11, his opinion. Net net, it works for him, he likes the black color, and that’s all I need to hear.
Perhaps this is the first remote that everyone in my family can use?