Logitech Harmony 890 review: Logitech Harmony 890

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CNET Editors' Rating

3.5 stars Very good
  • Overall: 7.3
  • Design: 6.0
  • Features: 9.0
  • Performance: 7.0

Average User Rating

0.5 stars 1 user review
Review Date:
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The Good Logitech's first universal learning remote to incorporate both IR (infrared) and RF (radio frequency) wireless operation includes a rechargeable battery and docking station, an RF base station, a DVR-friendly button layout and backlit keys. As with other Harmony remotes, the Logitech 890 is Web-programmable and is compatible with Windows and Macintosh machines.

The Bad Compared to the IR-only 880, the Logitech Harmony 890 is pricey. Its Web interface may intimidate nontechie users, and it lacks the Wi-Fi connectivity that's beginning to appear on some rival high-end remotes.

The Bottom Line While it isn't perfect, the Logitech Harmony 890 should be near the top of your list if you're in the market for a sub-$400 RF remote that can operate equipment that's hidden behind cabinets or closet doors.

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Editors' Note: From 2007 onward, Logitech included redesigned charging cradles with the Harmony 890. While 890 owners who purchased the unit with the original cradle are now out of warranty, they can contact Logitech customer service to receive a 50 percent discount on new products. (Given the age of this product, CNET suggests choosing the similar RF-equipped Harmony 900 or Harmony 1100 instead--just be aware that those products do not support macro-based programming.)

If you've followed the evolution of Harmony universal remote controls, you know that the Logitech Harmony 880 was the first Harmony remote to feature a color screen and a built-in rechargeable battery, along with a docking station. We rated that 880 very highly but noted in our review that we'd like to see an RF version--unlike IR, which is limited to line of sight, RF passes signals through walls and cabinets--that would appeal to people with hidden components and possibly multiroom setups.

Now we have it.

Priced at $399 (list), the Logitech Harmony 890 comes with one RF-to-IR receiver and looks identical to the IR-only Harmony 880, except that it comes in a lighter, more silvery finish. Measuring 8.1 inches long by 2.3 inches wide by 1.3 inches deep and weighing 5.8 ounces, the Harmony 890 retains the dumbbell shape of the company's earlier remotes. In addition to the screen's color capabilities, the LCD is larger than that of Harmony's monochrome models. The increased screen real estate offers room for a total of eight--rather than six--contextual icons, corresponding to adjacent hard buttons.

The 128x160-pixel color display is low resolution (read: early Palm color screen), but it's a step up from the monochrome screens found on such models as the Harmony 520 and the Harmony 550. One thing we didn't love was that the activity-based icons could have been a little cleaner-looking and easier to read. Logitech has made some tweaks in this area, but the icons still aren't as readable as they should be.

Some Harmony remotes feature soft, rubbery buttons that sometimes aren't as responsive as we'd like. For this model, Logitech has gone with all hard-plastic buttons--generally a good thing, though buttons such as the video-transport buttons (record, play, rewind, fast-forward, pause, and stop) and the 12-digit keypad are still spaced very close to each other, so it's hard to operate by feel alone. However, it's worth noting that context-specific side keys--volume and channel up/down--are raised nicely in just the right places. All in all, we felt the button layout was pretty well thought out, if not for a couple of nonintuitive choices among the video transport and set-top box keys; we would've reversed the Info and Exit buttons, for instance. Still, it shouldn't cause too much irritation and seems friendly enough toward digital set-top boxes, DVRs, and even Media Center PCs, though you will have to map or customize certain buttons manually to perform specific tasks. Additionally, almost all of the buttons are backlit, which is nice for a darkened home-theater environment.

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Quick Specifications See All

  • Release date Jan 3, 2006
  • Supported Device Qty 15
  • Supported Devices TV
    DVD player
    Game console
    AV receiver
    CD player
  • Features Easy online set up
    One-click activity buttons
    Multi-brand compatibility
    Back-lit buttons
  • Type universal remote control