The Hardware

As shown in Figure 4, the Harmony 650 has an array of nicely labeled black and burgundy buttons. The black buttons are all backlit, but the four main burgundy buttons near the top are not. We wished for a little brighter backlighting, since we found that lighting to be just barely passable. One very nice feature is that the backlighting and the screen are motion activated so the screen and backlighting turn on when the device is moved and turn off when it is set down. The length of time that the unit stays illuminated can be adjusted during the setup.

Logitech Harmony 650 Remote Control ReviewFigure 4: The Harmony One 650

The remote is roughly divided into three main areas. The top section, shown in Figure 5, has an on/off switch and five “activity” buttons labeled Watch TV, Watch a Movie, Play Music, Help, and More Activities. After the device is properly set up, pressing any of the activity choices will turn on the necessary equipment and will also make sure that the equipment is on the proper settings and/or inputs. The help button can be used at any time to help you fix an issue.

Logitech Harmony 650 Remote Control ReviewFigure 5: The top third of the remote

Below these buttons is a color LCD screen. It is a small (1” x 1”) screen, but it is quite readable. At the sides of the screen are four buttons for making choices that appear on the screen. Below the screen is another choice button flanked by forward and back buttons. More expensive remotes in the Harmony lineup have touch screens, but the 650 uses the buttons around the screen to make choices.

The middle section of the remote, as shown in Figure 6, has four standard buttons marked Menu, Exit, Info, and Guide. In the middle of these is an arrow up and down keypad.

Under that are four color-coded keys (red, green, yellow, and blue) that can be programmed to work with your devices. Below that is a directional keypad with an OK button in the center. This is used for scrolling through on-screen menus and choices. On either side of this keypad are volume and channel up and down controls.

Logitech Harmony 650 Remote Control ReviewFigure 6: The middle section of the remote

Figure 7 shows the bottom section of the remote. Included here are the Mute and Channel Back buttons plus standard video controls like play, pause, rewind, record, etc. Under that is a 12-digit keypad.

Logitech Harmony 650 Remote Control ReviewFigure 7: The bottom section of the remote.

In Figure 8, you can see that power for the Harmony 650 is provided by two AA batteries. Most of the higher-end Harmony remotes have rechargeable batteries. We, however, were happy that we could simply replace the batteries as necessary rather than have to find the charger and spend time recharging the battery. With the backlight set to its longest on-time and with extensive everyday use, our Harmony was still going after two months. We removed the batteries and kept them out for about five minutes just to see if the settings would remain when we had to change the batteries. When we replaced the batteries, everything still worked seamlessly.

Logitech Harmony 650 Remote Control ReviewFigure 8: The back of the Harmony 650 remote

Sandy Berger, respected computer authority, journalist, media guest, speaker, and author, has more than three decades of experience as a computer and technology expert. Her eight books include: How to Have a Meaningful Relationship with Your Computer, Your Official Grown-up's Guide to AOL and the Internet, Cyber Savers –Tips & Tricks for Today’s Drowning Computer Users, Sandy Berger’s Great Age Guide to Better Living through Technology, Sandy Berger’s Great Age Guide to the Internet, Sandy Berger’s Great Age Guide to Gadgets & Gizmos, Sandy Berger’s Great Age Guide to Online Health & Wellness, and Sandy Berger’s Great Age Guide to Online Travel. Sandy’s newspaper column, magazine articles, feature stories, product reviews, and computer tips can be found at her website, Compu-KISS.