We were excited when we first opened the Harmony 880 package and found a great looking remote. Our heads almost exploded when we noticed the Harmony installation CD said the software will run on OS X! We are SO tired of companies making software just for the PC market. Sure, 95% of the world is PC, but for a company trying to reach folks who want EASY to use devices... it was smart of Logitech to also support the Mac folks :-)
We may get around to installing the PC software someday, but this review is going to be done using the Mac!
We popped in the CD, followed the onscreen instructions, and the software installed without any problems. The installed software was basically a few communications pieces for transferring data between the Harmony 880 remote and the Logitech server.
With everything installed, we were now ready to program the Harmony 880. First we had to set up a "new user" account at Logitech... no problems. Normally we don't bother registering our devices, but this was a pretty clever way to get folks to register.
The programming steps were definitely NOT done by the engineers :-) They were clear, easy to follow, and jargon free. You do need to know a bit about your devices, but Logitech did a really great job of making the process frustration free.
We picked out all the devices we wanted to control from Logitech's website, entered in the various model numbers, and they did the rest. It was important to be sure of the model number... that was how Logitech knew how best to set up the Harmony remote.
Once all the devices have been picked, the power of this approach became more evident. Up until now, controlling all the devices meant the user had to have mental model of how things (signal flow) were connected up. Was the VCR's output connected to the TV's Video1 or Video2 input? To watch a DVD, do we need to be on Channel 3 or Channel 4? Which remote controlled the volume... to the TV or to the Digital Cable Box?
The ability to program the remote for various "Activities" was what made this product exciting! Sure the RainyDayMagazine AV guy knew that in order to watch a DVD, the projection TV's input must be on Video2, the aspect ratio should be on "Cinema", the VCR and Cable should be off, and the DVD player on. That usually took 3 remote controls and a complete explanation of how the video signal is like "water flowing through a pipe"...etc. God forbid if Mr. AV man was out of town :-)
Now, all folks had to do was hit the "Watch DVD" button and all the appropriate devices will be turned on/off, video sources selected, and aspect ratio selected!
To transfer all this AV knowledge to the Harmony 880, we connected the supplied USB cable from the Mac to the remote. The screen gave positive feedback that communication had been properly established.
The software then began the data transfer process.
Once the transfer had been completed, the remote does a quick self-check and we were greeted with a nice "Welcome" message. We decide to take the quick "intro" tour of the remote... nothing surprising but worth a look.
We tested all the programmed activities (Watch TV, Watch a DVD, Play VCR ...etc), they ALL worked flawlessly! Instead of pushing 5 buttons on 3 remotes to switch from watching TV to watching a widescreen DVD, it can all be done now with just one button.
One final thing we noticed was the buttons were all backlit with a nice light blue glow. The blue glow was just bright enough to see all the keys, but not so bright as to interfere with watching a movie or TV.
We were very impressed in our FirstUse review of the Harmony 880 Universal Remote. We will definitely be using this device a lot in the next several months. Come back in November to see how the Harmony 880 made out InTheWild!