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I bought a Harmony 525 around two and a half years for about £50 and have used it for controlling TV, Freeview, DVD, Home cinema, and Xbox 360. I'd long thought about getting a universal remote and took the plunge when my home cinema remote broke, meaning I could offset the saving of not having to replace it (around £15).
You set up the remote by plugging it into your PC via USB and using the Logitech software to select your devices. This process can be rather drawn out, especially if you have many devices, but overall I found it satisfactory, and you only need to do it once.
Using the software you can set up "activities" that specify groups of devices that will be used together when you are doing something specific like watching a DVD. Selecting this would turn on the TV, DVD player and home cinema. But the flaw here is that often one of the devices in the activity may already be on, so selecting the activity will cause it to turn off whilst the others turn on. As a result I didn't use this feature much.
All the devices I added worked flawlessly with the 525 except for one, my home cinema. It was missing one function from the actual remote. Normally this would be solved by a handy feature where by you point your normal remote at your 525, press the button of the missing function, and it will "learn" it via infra-red. But in my case my original remote didn't work, meaning I couldn't do this. Given that breaking an existing remote is a reason for many people buying a universal remote, it's worth bearing this risk in mind, especially if it's a more obscurely branded product, as these may have an increased likelihood of incorrect/missing functions.
In use the remote feels well made with reasonable quality buttons, definitely better than your average remote. The hard "click" ones are very good, the softer rubber ones less so. Having a blue backlight feature is good for use in darkened rooms. The remote sends out a powerful signal to your devices which is a big plus if you usually struggle to get your remotes to talk to them, even if the 525 isn't in clear view of the device, or pointing the opposite direction, it normally still works.
For use with single devices the 525 is very good, but it can be a bit slow if trying to use 2 or 3 at once, as it's a little slower than I would like for changing from one device to another. I would prefer to be able to change to a device in one button push, but this isn't possible. As a result I would often use the 525 alongside the remote of my most common device, defeating the point slightly, but going from 5 to 2 is still a worthwhile improvement.
Unfortunately the screen on my 525 failed recently, meaning that trying to find the functions accessed by them is now a case of Russian roulette, but overall I have been reasonably happy with the product.
let me start by saying I brought this because one of my remotes broke and the company wouldn't replace it, this was also the only one in the shop.
It looks good and once i got it set up it has replaced all of my remote controlls but it took me a while to figure it out. The CD that came with mine wasn't an updated enough version so I had to download the latest one from the website but I did try the CD a few times and for some reason (Which I still can't figure out) it didn't work.
Its easy to tell it what devices you have but you may have to find the model number of your devices first. Then it makes you have a setting for each different thing you want to do e.g. Watch TV, Watch a movie. This annoyed me because every time I say Watch a movie everything turns on because I have 3 devices that you can watch films on and yo turn one off individually you have to scroll through the menu and find toggle device power.
The display is helpful because of it complicated functions but wastes battery. It takes 4xAAA battries.
We purchased this remote around June 2008. While I personally would probably just own a TV and use the remote that comes with it, my partner insists that to enjoy TV we really need surround sound and a media centre PC and that three remotes is a nuisance - so we have a universal remote instead.
The Harmony 525 is much smaller than the remotes we've owned previously - the number of buttons required has been massively reduced using an LCD screen with programmable buttons, so anything that doesn't map to one of the basic keys can be programmed in there. The unit itself looks good - shiny black and matt silver plastic - and feels solidly made. It's survived a fair few knocks and drops so far without any damage to the case. The weighting of the remote in your hand feels a little odd due to the bulk of the weight (the batteries) being at one end of the remote. It runs on four AAA batteries - the downside of the nifty LCD screen and the strong blue backlighting on the remote is that we seem to be frequently recharging the batteries. The backlight switch seems pretty sensitive - it often comes on when you just pick up or bump the remote (makes it easy to find in the dark!). The infrared system doesn't seem to need very accurate point - anywhere roughly in the right direction will do the trick.
While I have not attempted to program it myself, my husband reports that it's relatively easy to load new devices into the unit - there's a mini-USB port to allow you to easily program the unit using your computer. As well as the standard buttons you would expect to find (volume & channel controls, play, ffwd, etc) and a numberpad, the remote has four multifunction buttons - the labels for these display on the LCD screen, and two buttons below the LCD let you scroll left & right through all the functions programmed to these buttons. This makes the remote very functional & easy to use. As an example, our last universal remote required that you assign each device to a button on the remote - and you then had to remember which button was which device. Any non-standard functions had to also be assigned a button - and you then had to remember which button performed which action. Not so with this unit - to select a device, I just push the 'Device' key, and all the devices loaded into the remote display on the LCD. I scroll through to get the one I want, and select it using the buttons beside the panel. Macro functions - eg turning on all the devices required to watch TV - are programmed under "Activities". I push "activities", and select what I want to do from the activities my husband has programmed in - for example, "Watch media centre TV". The ability to label actions & devices so clearly makes this remote an absolute joy to use.
While it's probably not the cheapest universal remote around, the flexibility & ease of use easily justifies the price.
I had seen these remotes but thought to myself why pay £40+ for an all in one remote, when i can buy an all for one for a tenner.
After using the 525 for a couple of days, the extra expense was easily justified.
The Harmony 525 is so much more than an all in one remote.
The Harmony takes 4 AAA batteries, which with everyday use should last 6-12 months, which is not bad considering you only have one remote compared to the previous multitude.
The 525 can control upto 10 devices, which will be more than enough for most people.
The beauty of these remotes is the 'Activity' modes.
You set up activities such as 'Watch TV' Watch DVD'
With one button press all the correct components are turned on or off and put to the correct settings.
Setting up the remotes can be daunting for a technophobe, but there are set up wizards to help you through the set up.
You have to connect the remote to a PC or Mac and complete the set up online, so a computer and internet connection is a must! (but if you are reading this then that shouldn't be too much of a problem!!)
For the more adventurous, you can do even more specific set up, such as sequence commands, button customisation etc.
A basic set up will probably take around 30 mins to 1 hour.
Once set up, you shouldn't ever have to go back to the original remote, as every function is available
One downside to the remote is the build quality - it does feel a little cheap, being composed of plastic.
All in all the Logitech Harmony 525 is a great bit of kit, and well worth the money if you have a lot of existing remotes - you'll wonder how you ever did without
We have DVD player, receiver, two sat boxes (Sky + Free to air European channels), TV. It was not a fun holding 5 remotes trying to find a right button. The remote you would need would always be hidden and missing somewhere.
We bought Logitech Harmony 525 2 years ago. I knew it would work for me as I am a gadget man. I was slightly apprehensive about my wife and worried about my in-laws (when they come to visit us). I thought it might be too techie thing for them.
It turned out as a very simple to use. I have setup 4 activities - Sat1, Sat2, DVD and CD. You program it on Logitech site using web interface and then sync your remote via USB cable. When you click say SAT1 button all necessary devices would turn on (TV, receiver (I listen TV sound over speakers), SAT box). When you press off button all devices are switched off.
You can assign different functions to different buttons if you want.
Very flexible and easy to use. There are more complicated and more expensive models but this is more than enough for an average household with 4-5 boxes under the TV. Logitech database is great and it is more than likely that your devices are already there and universal remote will pick up settings from their web site.
Wholeheartedly recommended product.
The cheapest I have found it (10/10/2008) is £38.5 at
Control your entire systems with the press of just one button. Simply select an activity (e.g., "watch TV") and your Harmony remote will evaluate the state of all your components and then send the right commands to make your system do exactly what you want. The Harmony 525 strength is its simple user interface, with a very intuitive layout of buttons. The addition of a teletext buttons makes it easy to take full control of your entertainment system. If you want your entire family to be able to use the entertainment system to its fullest, the simple layout and one-touch Activity Buttons makes this remote the ideal choice.