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Logitech Harmony 650 review

Andrew Williams



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Logitech Harmony 650
  • Logitech Harmony 650
  • Logitech Harmony 650
  • Logitech Harmony 650
  • Logitech Harmony 650
  • Logitech Harmony 650


Our Score:



  • Comprehensive device database
  • Good ergonomics
  • Colour screen


  • Only five devices allowed
  • Setup demands patience

Key Features

  • Colour screen
  • Replaces up to five remotes
  • Built-in accelerometer
  • Activity macros
  • 225,000+ compatible devices
  • Manufacturer: None
  • Review Price: £60.44

Logitech's Harmony series of universal remotes seeks to remove the mountain of bundled controllers that can be found in the living room of many a gadget fan. The database of devices compatible with the Harmony 650 is growing all the time, and with more than 5000 manufacturers already on the list, you have to try pretty hard to find gaps in its line-up.

The Harmony 650 costs around £70, so may be more expensive than some of the devices you'll end up controlling, and sits in the middle of the range. There's a colour LCD screen, once only found in top-end universal remotes, but it can only connect to five devices at once - the more expensive Logitech Harmony One handles 15.

It's powered by two AA batteries - one of the main differentiators between the 650 and the 700, one step up the series, is the use of a rechargeable battery in the more expensive model. This won't be a drawback for all though, especially now that you can buy long-lasting rechargeable batteries like Sanyo's Eneloops.

This remote's primary function is to save time, but there's plenty of work to be done before you get to that point. Setting up one of these remotes is like running a marathon. There'll be pain, you'll hit the wall and think you can't go on, but there's an enormous feeling of satisfaction once it's over - and you can collapse guilt-free into a gasping heap.

The Logitech Harmony series needs to be setup using a computer. Switch the 650 on and it'll prompt you to connect it using microUSB - unlike some rivals you can't do everything directly from the remote itself. The software's wizard-based, and functions more-or-less the same no matter which of the Harmony remotes you use.

First off, you input the names of all your kit, to check that they're present and correct within Logitech's database. We plugged in around a dozen bits of a kit into the remote - although only five at a time, in-line with the 650's five-device limit - and came up with a single gap, the rather niche Niro 6.1 TWO home cinema system from 2004.

Any remote controller not included from the off can be "learned" by pointing the original remote at the Harmony 650's IR sensor and mapping its functions key-by-key. This process is laborious, but only has to be done the once, as long as you don't muck it up the first time.

Once all the devices have been inputted, you can let the software add activity macros automatically, or pick your own selection. These macros plug together a series of commands, to give you a one-button way to turn on your TV, home cinema and Blu-ray player, for example, and get them all prepped with the right settings. The software tries to make the process as accessible as possible, formulating each macro through a series of simple questions, such as "will you use your TV or PVR to control volume when watching television?"

It's during the macro-making process that the real headaches can start though. Each command is separated by a gap of so many milliseconds, to allow for devices to finish tasks properly - you can't usually tell a TV to switch to an HDMI input half a second before telling it to come out of standby, for example.

Optimising these macros takes time and patience, and will likely require you to change the way you use your equipment. If you don't always use the Harmony 650 to switch devices on and off for instance, you'll come unstuck if a gadget uses a power on/off toggle rather than two separate commands. There's a built-in troubleshooter that you can use to fix problems after an activity has been executed, but getting settings perfect still requires significant tweaking.

Simon J

March 28, 2011, 11:48 am

Logitech being stingy is getting to be a bit of a habit as they have still not resolved the fact that the Harmony 1100 and 900 still don't have the capability to set up single button sequences that was available on the older 890 and One.

Michael McG

March 28, 2011, 11:58 am

I have bought two of these recently.. one for my parents and one for ourselves.. both are used for bedroom setups.. to turn on the tv, set to the correct input etc.. they work quite well and the battery life seems to be quite good.. we have ours about 2 months now, and it gets used most mornings for a while at least and still going strong.. if you are used to the harmony setup process then its easy enough to setup.. the one thing that caught me out was if you need to change the 'power on delay' thats the amount of time the remote waits after sending the 'on' command to the tv before trying to change inputs etc.. its a manual setting now on the remote.. took a bit of googling to figure that one out! the 5 device limitation isnt really that serious.. even in our main room where i use a harmony 1100 i only have about 5 devices.. (tv, sky hd, av receiver, blu-ray player and ps3) All in all id say the 650 is a good product at a reasonable price.. one of the advatages it had over the 555 series is that it is more robust.. and buttons are larger (a big plus for my parents) Once you get used to the 'activity' based process harmony's used it very hard to go back to any other type of one for all remote.. i tried a phillips one for all recently with a touchscreen and it was a nightmare to setup.. all setup was done using the remote itself.. using the harmony software once you're used to it gives you a lot more flexibility.. and once you are famillar with it.. setting up the remotes becomes relatively easy..


March 28, 2011, 1:45 pm

Can it control a wireless fan or AC unit (both which have IR controls)?

Michael McG

March 28, 2011, 2:13 pm

@ myst - if you have existing remotes for the devices you want to control you should be able to 'teach' the commands to the harmony


March 28, 2011, 2:15 pm

@myst you can check using Logitech's own compatibility checker here - http://tinyurl.com/4wevql


March 28, 2011, 3:11 pm

I've used my 550 to control a wireless fan, and as others have said it can learn commands from other remotes. Once you get past the initial setup, it's a great bit of kit.


July 23, 2011, 1:33 pm

I have 5 remotes. With the 650, I thought to have just one. But now I have 6. The reason is that there are just some things which the 650 will not do, which the original remote did. I want to control the TV, my Sky Digibox and my Pioneer DVD recorder. I want to record one channel whilst watching another, or even switch to terrestrial digital telly. It seems to be just a bridge too far for the 650, and that is only 3 devices to cope with. The 650 will now live in drawer101 where the other 3 should have gone.

I have to be fair: the Logitech telephone support in Ireland worked with me non-stop for an hour to resolve the first problem I had, courteous and patient. But I just do not have the hours to spare to keep going back.


October 24, 2013, 2:00 pm

huhh,,, i dont advice to any one to have that remote, it is fancy BUT it has looooooooooooooooots of crab!!! i got the same as shown above
ill start one by one:
1- you must go to set up by net only if no net you are useless!
2-if you make any mistake in set up that means you can never change any thing in your set up
3-the customer service never helpful and the support and troubleshooting in there web sits is just for advertising only its absolutely shit and nothing is helpful in that at all,,,


June 17, 2014, 8:32 am

Thank you, Andrew, for this detailed information. I have also one 650 and it works very well. I wrote also a review with the same results. But one point has changed: It is possible to displace up to eight devices by one Harmony. Maybe you can find some additional information in my Blog: http://www.elektronik-welt.net...

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