It’s not flawless and it sometimes gets it wrong, such as when it assumes the equipment is in one state when if fact it’s in another, but the on-screen help will sort things out. Though it really does work well most of the time, occasionally it can really get its knickers in a twist so it’s worth having a draw with those original remotes somewhere close, rather than retiring them completely to the garage.
The other issue is that adding and downloading changes to the device is actually fairly tedious. This is down to the fact that the Harmony software is rather slow – with it taking several minutes to apply even the smallest changes. It can also be somewhat confusing at first but the more you use it the more familiar it becomes. I did for some time wonder what Z-Wave devices were – these are devices that adhere to an open protocol for controlling devices in the home such as lighting – but it’s hard to find this explained in the software itself.
An even bigger flaw is that nowhere in the supplied manual, or in the software itself, is it explained how to get the supplied RF extender device working. The RF device has to be paired with the handset, and the changes you make on the remote also have to made to the extender. The extender also cannot be plugged in when updating, which could make things very awkward if you’ve got the extender in a difficult to reach place, which is likely.
All of these issues were rendered moot by the fact that in the time I had allotted for this review I could not get the software to update the extender, which was quite frustrating. The software just kept failing. This means that essentially I was missing out on one of the main features of the 895. I have read several forum posts of some having issues getting the RF to work properly, while others have reported it working flawlessly. This, in combination with the issues I had with the charging indicates to me that despite being available for a while, the 895 is still somewhat rough around the edges. I will continue to try to get to the bottom of the issues and will update the review accordingly if there is any progress.
As it happens, I currently don’t require RF as all my kit is out in the open, and once I was passed the pain of set-up, the 895 proved very useful indeed. On that basis it’s a good investment, though if you don’t need to the RF or control for Z-Wave devices the cheaper 885 is a better choice.
The Harmony 895 is a powerful universal remote that lets you take full control of all your devices from DVD to lighting. However, you do need patience, as getting the set-up just right is time consuming. I also had issues with build and the RF functionality on our review unit didn’t work, leaving me very impressed and very disappointed in almost equal measure.