Logitech Harmony 600 Remote Review

Even though I’ve owned tons of audio/video equipment over the years, I’ve never had a universal remote.  The best ones always were very expensive, and the ones I could afford never seemed to actually have enough buttons to handle all the functions of my various pieces of equipment.  And who could remember how all those buttons were mapped for each piece of equipment?  I’d given up on universal remotes and just made do with the slightly programmable remote that came with my DVR box from the cable company.  When Julie said the Logitech people were offering their soon-to-be-available  Harmony 600 remote for review, I asked if I could give it a try.  It has a plethora of buttons to handle most functions, and there are programmable buttons that handle the rest of the functions specific to a given device.  Best of all, there’s a little LCD screen that LABELS those functions for you!  This remote shows a lot of promise.

What’s in the Box:
Harmony 600 remote control
USB cable
2 AA batteries
Documentation

Before using the Harmony 600, you’ll need to program it for your devices.  The manual says to set aside 45 minutes for this, but it didn’t take me that long.  You can control up to five devices.  Types of devices you can control include TV, DVD/Blu-Ray, cable boxes, VCR, and home theater equipment.  To get started, you need to get information about the equipment you’ll be controlling with the remote.  You’ll need the manufacturer and the model number for each device.  I’ll be using the Harmony 600 with my Sony TV and Blu-Ray player, and with my Scientific Atlanta DVR cable box.  You’ll also need to know which input each device uses to connect to the TV.  (Many of the following pictures can be clicked for an enlarged version.)

Install the batteries into the remote, connect the USB cable to your computer (works with Windows or Mac computers) and to the micro USB connector on the top of the remote.  You’ll then log on to the Logitech Harmony site, create an account, and set up your devices.  

After your account is created, the Logitech setup installs a device driver and a setup program on your computer and checks the connection with your remote.  This takes a few moments. 

Next you’ll enter information about your devices.  Choose the type of device, the manufacturer, and the model number.  Luckily all of my devices were in the huge database of more than 5000 brands and 225,000 devices.  (If your device isn’t found, you can program the Logitech Harmony 600 with your device’s original remote.)  There are several other setup screens involving which TV input your other devices are connected to, whether you want to turn off your cable box (called PVR in my case) when it’s not in use, and the like.  You can also define activities:  for example, “Watch TV” is defined as TV is on and set to video input 5 and cable box is on, all other devices are off for my setup. 

When all your settings are finished, the setup program adds the information to your Harmony 600 then prompts you to disconnect and test the remote.  My remote worked perfectly to control my TV, cable box, and Blu-Ray player.

The first time using your remote, there’s a brief tutorial showing you how to use it.  When you pick up the remote, movement triggers the gray-scale LCD screen to light up.  Some of the other universal remotes offered by Logitech have color LCD screens, but I don’t see how the lack of color negatively impacts the function of this remote. 

At the top of the Harmony 600, there are several buttons.  One will turn off all devices.  Three others are predefined as single-button activities:  watch TV, watch a Movie, or listen to Music.  If you defined more activities in the setup, you can access these using the “More Activities” button.  If your remote isn’t functioning as you expect, use the “Help” button and follow the prompts on the LCD screen to troubleshoot.

The middle button under the LCD screen lets you toggle between “Activities” (all of your predefined single-click activities) or “Devices”. 

Page 1 of the TV-specific functions

The “Devices” option allows me to choose to more fully control a single device.  For example, I can scroll through six screens of TV functions like selecting inputs, selecting an antenna, scroll through my pre-defined favorite channels, control picture mode, etc.

The rest of the remote contains a multitude of buttons.  Between these buttons and the functions on the LCD screen, I didn’t find a single thing I needed to do on any of my devices that I couldn’t control.  When using the single click activity buttons or the “all off” button, I found I needed to keep the remote pointed toward my equipment a little longer than I first thought.   I was clicking the button, then immediately putting the remote down, and some things weren’t responding properly.   I just needed to give it time to send signals to all devices – just an extra second or so.

I found the shape and size of the Harmony 600 was easy to hold and use.  The remote is about 8.75 inches long, about 2.25 inches at the widest, about 0.5 inches thick at the top, and about 1” thick at the bottom where the battery compartment is.  The buttons seem to be made of a rubbery plastic and are laid out by their functions.  They work well, are backlit for easy use in a dim room, and they are completely silent when you click them.  Just like the LCD screen, the button backlight turns on when you pick up or move the remote.  The backlighting turns off about 8-10 seconds after the last use.

Logitech says they are constantly updating their devices database, so you’ll be able to use the installed setup program to update your Harmony 600 whenever you get a new piece of equipment.

The Harmony 600 remote isn’t showing up on the Logitech US site yet.  I did find it on the European site, where it’s being offered for pre-sale.  Hopefully it should be available here soon.  I’m not sure of the price, but the European price converts to roughly $80 in the US.  I think that’s a very reasonable price for such a great universal remote.  If you’re in the market for a universal remote, you can’t go wrong with the Logitech Harmony 600!

 

Product Information

Price:Probably about $80 US
Manufacturer:Logitech
Pros:
  • An online setup utility programs the remote for you
  • Nice button layout
  • All functions are defined & accessible through the LCD screen if there are no permanent buttons for them
  • Buttons and LCD screen are backlit
  • Single-click buttons for predefined activities
Cons:
  • None
Posted in: Audio, Video, TV Gear, Reviews

{ 12 comments… add one }

  • Regretful May 3, 2010, 12:46 pm

    NOOOOOOOOOOO! Just bought a used Logitech Harmony 700 on ebay for $60…would have preferred a new unit and it sounds like the 600 would be a perfect fit. Oh well…

    1
  • Fibban May 3, 2010, 3:47 pm

    Design a step backward…

    I have a x360, 510, and a 880 and this design lack the sleekness of those, it is even fugly.

    So is there a functionality enhancement to this model that makes it a upgrade candidate? Couldn’t see anything new in the review, and I don’t care about the color screen. Black text on green background vs white on blue doesn’t do any difference to me.

    2
  • daniel May 3, 2010, 5:58 pm

    Do you know how this differs from the 650?

    3
  • Janet Cloninger May 3, 2010, 6:15 pm

    @daniel I’ve never seen the 650, but looking at it on Amazon makes me think the main difference seems to be the 650 has a color screen while the 600 doesn’t. I don’t know what other differences there may be. Sorry.

    4
  • Jerry Danzig May 5, 2010, 10:05 am

    No radio frequency capability? That’s a definite CON in my book…

    5
  • Danny May 13, 2010, 10:02 pm

    Get an LRRX-2 to replace one of the batteries in any remote, and you have instant RF.

    All remotes leak out a tiny RF signal which the LRRX-2 converts into regular RF signals. It works amazingly well.

    6
  • VIGILANTE wush October 26, 2010, 5:44 pm

    I bought this remote about a month ago.

    It is close to being a perfect universal remote.

    The flaw, however, was so significant that I must rate it as an overall failure (I spent a day’s pay on it and have literally thrown it away less than a month later).

    The physical design of the battery case allows the batteries to become unseated for just a moment and for the remote to lose power. This is only momentary and would be a non-issue, except that when the remote senses power has returned it goes into a tutorial mode that says “push this button, push that button, blah blah blah” and cannot be exited. It takes about 2 minutes to get through this and then return the remote to whatever setting I was on. During this time the remote is inoperable. When I finally navigate through the tutorial (AGAIN!), my TV/DVR/etc are still on the desired setting, but the remote is in default. When I push “Watch TV” to set my remote I have to then point the remote at my couch cushion so that the remote doesn’t reissue setup commands that my TV has already been told. The remote spends 30 seconds or so searching for my devices (which are already set!), and then it returns to normal. At this point I am ready to continue whatever I picked up my remote so long ago to do. After that I set the remote down as though it were made of crystal out of fear that it’ll happen again. If I don’t check the remote as I set it down, I wont notice that it is in tutorial mode again until the next commercial break. At that time I again have to spend 2 minutes messing with the remote before I can Fast Forward again (by the way, this is the same 2 minutes until the commercials are over anyway!). I watched more commercials in the last month because of this than I have at any time since I got my first DVR so many years ago.

    The battery/power issue is directional and only happens when you tap the remote from the front. It takes surprisingly little force to cause this and it can happen repeatedly.

    I plan to buy another remote now, and have no intention of giving Logitech any more of my business.

    By the way, I am a long time Logitech user and fan. The keyboards and mouses at my office and home are wireless Logitechs, and when I play Xbox it is on a Logitech controller. This remote was not up to par, and they will be very hardpressed to earn my business back (especially if they don’t bother to respond the the exhaustive review I left in response to an email they sent out).

    7
  • KTP May 28, 2011, 5:50 pm

    The guy above obviously had a faulty unit, there is no problem with batteries on mine.

    8
  • Gina November 28, 2011, 5:30 pm

    Spent 3 hours going over and over and over the programming of all the devices of my tv/dvd aligning with the computer to make sure everything was correct…to no avail. Remote help button certainly didn’t help. I’m returning this remote back to the store and demanding money back!

    9
  • Scott Hayes November 30, 2011, 2:41 pm

    the guy who posted about the battery issue did not have a faulty unit. I am now on my 3rd 600, and when this one breaks, and it will, I will have to buy something else. the batteries become unseated very easily. this can happen with an accidental drop on a carpeted surface. the batteries will become loose, and will not stay in their channels, causing the remote to lose power. There is no way to make them fit tight again. Thankfully, Sams club has replaced mine over again. There needs to be more durability with this device. This is a huge design flaw. Otherwise, I love this remote!!

    10
  • Rob Crombie January 3, 2013, 12:14 pm

    Someone raised this question above.
    ANSWER
    The 600 and the 650 are identical. Only difference is the 650 has a color display (instead of monochrome).

    11
  • Rob Crombie January 4, 2013, 4:54 pm

    Nice review.
    I don’t recall specifying the connection types, but that could be because of my next comment.
    I like to keep things simple, plus I like to control things myself.
    I appear to be the only person in the world that does not like using ‘Activities’. The good news is, the Harmony works well without Activities being implemented.
    On a similar vein, I appear to be the only person in the world that does not like my set top box (Foxtel cable in Australia) ‘Pausing live TV’, and similar functionality. I haven’t found a way to disable it yet. If I have to leave the room for 5 minutes, I just press record button.
    When I have raised my dislike for ‘Pause live TV’ in forums, everyone says they love it, so presumably it will be the same with ‘Activities’ ?

    I have had no battery problems, but I am pretty careful with the handling of all my remotes. (Not slinging off at anyone. I have no other humans nor pets, to bump/knock things.)

    12

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