Reviewed by: AlanV
Ease of Use
After a few years of solid service my universal remote finally kicked the bucket. It was a remote with a lot of flaws, but the reason I chose it was because it was able to function with the PlayStation 3. This time around I wanted to find a remote with less compromises. After doing a lot of research to try and find the one that best fit my needs the Logitech Harmony 650 emerged as the best candidate.
My current setup:
- Panasonic HDTV
- Home Theater PC (Windows 7, FLIRC)
- Xbox One
- PlayStation 4
- PlayStation 3
One of the best features of the Harmony 650 is that the setup is completed using a computer with a USB cable supplied in the packaging. That might seem more complicated at first, but the included software makes it a breeze to fully customize the remote to your heart’s content with a database full of devices.
This was especially useful for my case because I have a custom built PC that I use to watch television and movies. It’s difficult to get my system to work with remotes, but the Logitech software has a preset already there that made the process smooth.
The cherry on top is that the remote works natively with the Xbox One, which meant that I no longer had to figure out some roundabout way to get it to work with either PlayStation system. The Xbox One is now my main box for streaming services.
The only downside to this setup process is that it requires users to have a Logitech account, which is ridiculous. The account should be optional to obtain extra perks like having configurations saved in the cloud, but not mandatory just to get the remote up and running.
Full of Features
The Harmony 650 has a laundry list of useful features. The most noticeable being the full color screen located near the top. Users can place commands they would like to have access to on the screen, and can even have multiple pages to scroll through. This maximizes the amount of customization available to users.
The backlight for the main buttons is another welcomed attribute. It makes using it a whole lot easier in dark environments. Although its puzzling that Logitech opted not to have the buttons at the very top have any sort of backlight.
The top buttons control what Logitech refers to as “activities.” The tap of one button can have a whole host of devices turn on as instructed by the user. They have easy to remember names such as “Watch TV” or “Watch Movies.” Meaning that even visitors not familiar with it can still use it.
Lastly, there is the Help button that can assist users if something in their system is having issues working with the Harmony 650. Hitting the button will bring up a set of yes or no questions to diagnose the issue and gets things back on track.
It’s Not Exactly Sturdy
One of the biggest disappointments is the build quality. It feels good for the most part, but there are portions of the remote that are worrying. The biggest problem area is the battery cover, which feels like it could come off after a short drop. It definitely doesn’t inspire confidence in the overall durability of the remote.
Speaking of Batteries
The battery life of the Harmony 650 might be a big sticking point for some. It usually lasts about 3-4 weeks for me. It’s not as big of a concern in my situation as I have rechargeable batteries that I rotate in and out of the remote. However, if someone were using standard batteries this could get pricey and frustrating in a hurry.
The Harmony 650 is not a perfect remote, but it’s hands down the best one I’ve ever used at a great price point*. It’s easy to setup, it controls everything in my system, it’s easy to use and it’s well designed. If you’re looking to cut down on the amount of remotes you need then this one is worth picking up.
*At the time of purchase the remote cost $40, which is a price it reaches often. Just wait a bit to get it if it’s hovering over $50.