Logitech Harmony 680

Review

posted 5/10/2005 by John Yan
other articles by John Yan
One Page Platforms: PC
Logitech/Harmony has some really innovative remotes. While watching the keynote speech of CES 2005, there was some mention of Logitech producing Windows XP Media Center remotes. Being a new user of the OS, I was anxious to see what Harmony had. And with a quick contact, I was sent the Logitech Harmony 680 remote.

I’ve been using the Harmony 688 for a few months now and it’s one of the few remotes where it was easy to use for my family. I programmed it to control BeyondTV and was very happy with the results. Since my switch to Windows XP Media Center 2005, I thought it would be a good time to test the Harmony 680 remote that natively supports the OS.

Design wise, the Harmony 680 features the same shape as the 688 but a different button layout. For starters, the activity keys have been replaced by nice rounded buttons with pictures instead of words. The remote features the green button that’s prominent on other MCE remotes and that will take you to the main MCE screen when pressed. While the 688 features a continuous button design around the thumb button control, the 680 actually has separate round buttons. I’ve heard complaints on the 688’s circular button design and while the 680 does have that, the buttons are actually separate buttons in this case. I do find the design to be a little better than the 688’s in this area.

Also distinguishing this remote in being a Media Center remote, four buttons that are marked with Media Center centric commands are located above the thumb dial button. They are used pretty regularly if you’re controlling a MCE machine and they are featured in a very high profile area on the remote that is easily reached with the thumb.

To continue the button separation theme when comparing the 688 to the 680, the number pad at the bottom on the 680 is also separated into individual buttons. It makes finding each button a little easier I think and the spacing between each button does facilitate this.

On the 688, the VCR controls are located below the radial button area. On the 680, they have been moved to around the thumb dial. I don’t really mind where it is on either remote. And while I don’t want to sound like a broken record, the VCR button controls are also separated into individual round buttons.

As with the 688, the 680 features an LCD screen with six buttons that will activate any command in the LCD window. For those commands that you don’t know where to put, this is a good place to put them. It’s actually a feature that I really enjoy using and one that makes this remote very versatile. The LCD’s ability to be programmed with many more commands makes the Harmony remote very flexible.
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