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Logitech Harmony 680 Remote

 

 

Logitech Harmony 680 Remote

X No Roses!

 

(Rating downgraded due to online upgrade problems.)

Pro

* Home entertainment functions such as 'Watch TV' or 'Watch DVD' operated by the push of a single button.

* Turns multiple pieces of equipment on and controls everything, including cable menus, etc.

* Easy for all family members to use once it is programmed off the internet.

Con

* Buttons beside the display awkward to operate.

* Because of the number of buttons and features it is often a two-handed operation.

* Programming and tweaking takes a lot longer than the advertised 30 min.

* Can't be updated with Version 7 software.


Logitech Harmony 680 Remote Packaging

For those unfamiliar with the Logitech Harmony remotes, the condensed explanation is they are programmed with your computer via the internet. You input your equipment brand and model numbers, set up your activities, with the idea you only have to push a button or two to do anything with your home media system.

Remote in box

 

 

 

 

 

When I first looked at the box I figured, wow, reasonable packaging finally.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sealed in plastic

 

 

 

That was short lived as I hauled everything out of the package and found the typical "everything sealed in heavy duty plastic" scenario. In fact, the sealed plastic was so thick and tough it was very difficult to get the contents out of the package without damaging them.

One of the worst and most difficult packages I ever had to open.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Whats included

 

 

 

The box contained a printed manual (I had previously downloaded a PDF one during my online research of the product), a usb cable, four AA batteries, a CD containing the internet software, and the Logitech Harmony 680 remote itself.

You may as well go direct to the Logitech Web Site and download the latest software.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Logitech Harmony 680 Remote Software

I previously had a Logitech Harmony 520 remote, so was reasonably familiar with the procedure involved to set up the 680. The software on the CD was version 4, where on my computer it was already updated to version 7. It checks for the latest version each time you use it. If you haven't had a Logitech Harmony remote before, the included instructions show how to install it step by step in minutes.

New account software

Once the software is ready to go, you need to have installed batteries in the remote, and connect the remote to your computer with the included usb cable.

The estimate in the manual of 30 minutes required to set up the remote is very conservative.  I am fairly knowledgeable in home entertainment systems, computers and software, plus I had a previous Logitech Harmony Remote 520. So the set up of the Logitech Harmony 680 should be a breeze, right? Wrong! It took several hours to get basic things working correctly, and another hour or so to get little extra "goodies" working.


Logitech Harmony 680 Second or Additional Account

Important: This information is on their web site, but not easily discovered when you are in a hurry to get your new remote functioning.
1) If this is your first Logitech Harmony remote, you only need to create an account by following the easy steps.
2) If you already have another model of a Logitech Harmony remote, you have a decision to make. If you want to replace that remote with the new one, you only have to click on Replace Remote, or Change Remote in the software and your previous settings are transferred to the new model.
3) If you want to keep your old remote and use it with its current settings in another room or for other equipment, then you need to Create A New Account for you new Logitech Harmony Remote.

The easiest way to do this is to use the same user name with a slight change. Same for the password. For example, if you first remote's user name is 'alfie' and password is 'dodo', then a good idea would be to use 'alfie2' and 'dodo2' for the new one. You get the idea. That way when you start the software it is very easy to select the proper remote by entering the correct user name and password.


Logitech Harmony 680 New Account

Creating the new account is easy, just answer all the questions as you click through the steps. You will need the manufacture name and model of each piece of equipment you want the remote to control.

It is very easy to add equipment later, and to add additional activities. This model of remote has many more features than my previous model, and has many more buttons to become familiar with as well. I will not go through the standard setup steps as they are well presented and easy to follow. I will mention a few glitches that I run across. Your mileage may differ.

I added a TV, Audio Video Receiver, DVD player, DVD recorder, and a VCR. When it came time to add Activities, things became difficult. For those of you not familiar with the Logitech Harmony Remote procedures, an activity is defined as 'Watch TV, Watch DVD, Listen to Music, etc.

When I attempted to program the Watch TV activity, the software kept asking what input the DVD recorder should be set on and what channel. Considerable time was wasted trying to get around this, with the solution turning out to be - deleted the DVD recorder. It was easily added back to the equipment list later without difficulty. A similar occurrence took place with the VCR which also had to be removed and added later.

Front of 680

 

Learning Curve - Button Locations

Once everything is programmed things become a lot better, but their is a learning curve. Many commonly used buttons such as Guide, Info, Back, etc. are in uncommon locations. It takes getting used to. On the other hand this remote does so many things it is amazing.

Favourite Channels TV or Music

One of the things I like is it allows you to program favourite channels for TV or Cable Music if you program that as an activity.  Pressing the media button brings your favourites to the display screen where they can be selected or scrolled through easily.

The Logitech Harmony 680 remote has two finger notches underneath which makes the remote easy to hold and manipulate the buttons with your thumb - except for the ones beside the display and at the top. The only easy way to operate these is with your other hand.

Help: One of the reasons it is a great family remote is that if anything goes wrong, just press the 'Help' button on the remote. It will ask a series of questions such as; "Is the TV on?", Is the input correct?" and so on. Once you find the problem, it corrects itself. So if another family member turns off the TV or some other component the wrong way such as by using the power switch, the remote will easily correct the situation by using the help key

 

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Logitech Harmony 680 Remote Display

Logitech display

 

 

The display is a decent size, with easy to read print and the entire range of buttons light up a greenish glow at night, making all buttons easy to identify.

The buttons along the side of the display, along with the activity buttons at the top are awkward to use, making this a two-handed remote for some controls.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tag the cord

 

Hint: Tag the cord.

We all have so many of these usb cords for various pieces of equipment it is advised to tag them with their product name.

Sure, many of them are the same, but this way whether they are hanging up or thrown into the drawer, you can always find the proper cord easily and quickly.

Tags are cheap at your local stationary or variety store.

 

 

 

 

 

 

All things considered, this is a nice remote and once all the programming is finished and you practice with it for awhile, enduring the learning curve, it will only be a matter of time when you will be adding even more 'activities' to it.

Note: The Logitech Harmony 680 remote has more features than those mentioned here such as the capability of controlling a Windows Multimedia computer and X-10 remote activities.


Battery Life

After two weeks of use it would appear that the Logitech Harmony 680 remote is going to be somewhat hard on batteries. The included batteries were heavy duty, but failed in just slightly over two weeks, with moderate to light use.

Perhaps this should be expected considering the number of buttons that are lighted when most functions are accessed.

I have switched to high end rechargeable batteries and will update after a couple months use and trial. I would suggest rechargeable batteries for these types of devices anyway. This means purchasing eight rechargeables so you always have a spare set on hand unless you want to be without your remote during charging. There is no indication the batteries are getting weak, only "Replace Batteries" on the display and some functions stop working.

(March 25, 2009)


Logitech Harmony 680 Long Term Update

(July 2011)

After several years of use the Logitech Harmony 680 has proven to be a good stable remote for controlling numerous home entertainment devices. However our rating had to be downgraded due to problems with online upgrading.

Battery life using rechargeable batteries has proven to be the only way to go. And you need two sets for continuous use. When batteries are about to expire, there is little warning. (Whether using rechargeable or standard alkaline batteries.) The display will suddenly read "Replace Batteries." A few buttons will still work briefly, but in a very short time the Harmony 680 will refuse to work at all.

The biggest downside is the online programming, or the program used to do so. Online programming is the way to go, for no other means would allow you to easily install such a variety of models of equipment. The trouble begins when you connect the remote to the computer to upgrade the remote's settings. The original software worked fine,although as mentioned, not totally user friendly for new users. The trouble began with version 7 of the software. It is just too big of a hassle trying to get the computer to talk to the remote. I have tried three computers, with Windows XP, Vista and Windows 7. All refuse to connect, and according to some forums, it is a common occurrence, with hundreds of "can't connect entries.

Hours of Wasted Time - Logitech Harmony 680 Can't Connect

Personally I have spent hours trying to get the Harmony 680 to connect and update. The concept was perfect when it first came out. Now it is a useless piece of plastic. Considering you can program the average cable remote to do most functions in about five minutes by entering some numbers, fooling with this internet programmable model is wasting a lot of time.

Connect

 

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This is the screen you get when you sign in and follow the steps to update the Harmony 680. Pushing buttons to wake it up does no good, likewise running it in safe mode as some forum entries suggest.

Circled in the picture above it suggests turning off your anti-virus and firewall. Although I tried it briefly without success, I find such a suggestion in very poor taste. These days I would be unwilling to run any computer unprotected to update software. Even ensuring the Logitech Harmony Remote software had full access through all firewall avenues, the results were negative.

 

 

Status

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Clicking on the Status button always showed a blank empty box. No indication of what could be wrong.

 

Pay For Support If You Want To Contact Us

Support

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It gets better. Looking through the forums and knowledge base shows dozens of people having the same problem - but no solutions.

But you can BUY phone support. For a product that so many are having problems with, it only seem right - right?

 

$29

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

$29. per call for assistance to a problem that appears to be software related since it only started with Version 7, seems a bit steep to me.

I have retired my Logitech Harmony 680 remote to the electronic junk drawer. Considering the cost of the unit plus hours and hours of wasted time, it was an expensive venture.

I am back to entering numbers in standard programmable remotes.


 

No elaborate scientific setups here. No special laboratory equipment. Just honest in use every day setups that my friends or I use, or have used in our every day computing activities.

 

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