Logitech Harmony 520 universal remote control

Received it. Tried it. Returned it. Unfortunately, this didn’t live up to the hopes I had. I’ll be sticking with my Harmony 659. Why? Well, I’ve tried a variety of Harmony remotes since Logitech took over (in my opinion, the downfall). I even tried the mothership of Harmony remotes, the 880. I disliked the lack of tactile differentiation between buttons and odd arrangement of the play/pause/rev/fwd/etc buttons. Further, I disliked the odd adaptation of one of their earlier remotes’ “ring of buttons,” which included volume and channel controls.

On this remote, the 520, they’ve somewhat addressed the 880’s lack of button differentiation, but it still uses the odd shuttle control arrangement of the 880 and a limited adaptation of the “ring of buttons.” Further, this remote introduces an unnecessary degree of resistance to button presses, requiring the user to push some of the buttons until they “click.” This makes quick presses on the menu navigation button ring and volume buttons much more thumb-strenuous than they should be. Add to this that the slim design of the upper end of the remote, counter-balanced by the battery-heavy lower end, causes the remote to feel flimsy, while making button pressing at the top even more difficult. Oh yeah, and they’ve gone from double-pixel-wide (bold) letters in the LCD screen to single-pixel-wide (not bold) letters, making the screen much harder to read, especially with the blue backlighting.

Now let’s talk about the new configuration software. It’s actual software that runs as a client on your PC, yet it still pulls most of the content and configuration pages down from the web. In fact, it’s really nothing more than a Java-based minimalist’s web browser. What’s the point? All this to avoid “do you trust us?” dialogs in your browser? Seems entirely unnecessary.

There are some things I do like…they have replaced the Activity buttons with one main activity button, which then displays the activities on the LCD screen. You can now (finally) resequence the activites, so you can show your most frequent activities on the first “page.” Also, they’ve added another buton to allow for forward and backward navigation of LCD screen “pages” and reconfigured the screen to support one- or two-line labels for the soft buttons on the left and right edges of the screen.

I tried to like it. I even picked it up again one night after giving up on it several days earlier. Ultimately, though, this one went back to Target in just two week’s time. Luckily, target.com makes it really easy to return items to your local retail outlet.

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