Logitech Harmony 520 In The Flesh

Dave Zatz —  September 23, 2005 — 56 Comments

Harmony 520Logitech has begun shipping the new Harmony 520 to select Walmarts, which resulted in numerous phone calls and a distant quest to two stores. Why Walmart you ask? Logitech is aiming squarely down market with this $99 model – and I’ve concluded the cost corresponds directly to the number of buttons.

The main differences between the 520 and the 6xx line are obviously the the new physical design, dropping the hard coded activity buttons along with many others, and the introduction of new software – for under a hundred bucks.

As with other models, Harmony remotes are configured online using a web-based wizard with your custom settings being downloaded via USB into the remote. The 520 is the first in the Harmony line using updated configuration and connectivity software. Logitech promises this will eventually be available to all Harmony devices – in fact it is currently willing to configure my old 659, though I haven’t tried. Keeping with the Harmony way, you program your remote using activities. For example a Watch DVD activity might turn on your TV, switch the input source, turn on the DVD player, and dim your Lutron lights. Soft buttons listed in the LCD allow for an unlimited amount of function keys.

Although the Harmony 520 trades in the hourglass shape for something more rectangular, the length and width are comparable to prior models. However the remote does shave quite a bit off of its girth – the bottom portion is 3/4″ thick while the slender top is a mere 4/10″ thick. The remote feels very well balanced, with the thicker area resting comfortably in my palm. The bottom is nicely contoured in two locations for ease of use, one ridge for accessing VCR controls and one for channel surfing. As you can see, the remote is black and grey plastic with silver metal trim and blue backlighting. Like the 600 series, it requires 4 AAA batteries. Logitech generously loads it up with 4 Duracels and provides an additional set.

So is it worth it? If you already own a 6xx Harmony you really have no reason to trade it in. If you’re a virgin, the sleek looks and attractive retail price make this a good bet for those with simple configurations or not requiring many hard buttons. Those with non-technical significant others might also appreciate the powerful, yet disarming 520.

Harmony 520Harmony 520

Harmony 520

Harmony 520

Harmony 520

Harmony 520

Harmony 520


56 responses to Logitech Harmony 520 In The Flesh

  1. One thing that neither this article nor the link seems to indicate: HOW MANY DEVICES CAN THIS CONTROL? Seems like pretty basic info to make a purchasing decision (am I’m missing something?).

  2. The 520 can control up to 12 devices, as compared to the 15 devices of other models.

  3. See im a Timewarner user and i have a DVR Box the buton set on the DVR Remote is huge and im worried about how truely compatable it will be and when i say that sure it will grab the IR Codes but whe ni say compatable i mean layot with all the buttons and ease of use such as in one line i have MTE FAV LAST Below that REPLY LIST (LIST Recorded shows) LIVE
    Below that playback and rec functions then all my PIP functions and also change the video source liek streach the image zoom ect if its a non HD Signal…

  4. Case,
    logitech / harmony are really good about issues like yours. My 676 allows me to manually program ANY ir code to any soft button (text up on the lcd with a button next to it). This allows me to put a button that controls the TV’s closed captioning when i’m in DVD mode and gives me search buttons (serch program guide) when Im in DVR mode- I use dish network. I’m very confidant you will have luck with this sucker- we couldn’t get by without our 676 now which I got for $99 at CES in jan 2005

  5. 12 seems good enough. I only need to control 6. But how are TiVo users getting used to this? I am so set in my ways I have trouble deciding as I can totally see myself not liking the Play button’s placement. NOT INTUITIVE.

  6. I second that question: as a 5-year Tivo addict, the familiar shape of the peanut remote has reshaped the bones in my hand. How well does this model take over, or is there a better choice, Harmony-wise?

  7. I currently have their top-of-the-line 880 (the one with the color screen).
    I’m tempted to trade ‘down’ to get this one just cuz it appears the backlighting on the keys is bright. On the 880 the key backlight is awful…

  8. I have the 659 (which I managed to break the USB port).
    I want to buy a new one, so should I shell out the extra money for a 659 or go for this?
    I like this shape more. I assume once it hits online I can get a better price.
    How does the soft buttons compare to the hard buttons (do I push something to turn it on first)?
    Tivo users, you can change the button’s place if you want, or look at the 659.

  9. Will this thing also operate my ceiling fan(which has remote), and my X10 switch remote lamp switch(think these both use some kind of radio frequency)? Also I have TV, Tivo, DVD player, and a Multi Region DVD player. Thanks

  10. From what I can tell, the Harmony database contains many home automation (X10) and home appliance (ceiling fan) entries. If your model isn’t listed, the remote has the ability to learn new codes – you’ll notice an IR port also at the bottom of the remote to receive signals. I’ve found Logitech’s database to be huge – it even included codes for controlling my track lighting.

    After playing with the remote for a few days now, I think it’s fine for controlling the Tivo. The Guide button is mapped and I have the Menu button taking me to Tivo central. The Skip button is programmed for 30 second skip, and the Replay button does what it should. The only button I feel like I’m missing is Live TV – but I can access that as a ‘soft’ button in the LCD or use the Tivo menu to get to it. I don’t use Thumb’s Up/Down so I can’t comment on that.

    It’s worth mentioning that the LCD isn’t as readable as some of the other Harmony models which dissapoints me, though the backlighting and tilt/motion sensor is a nice feature.

  11. Kelly, Harmony remotes can take almost every IR remote available. But if you have an RF remote it won’t work. You might want to check the 880 (for $250). I am pretty sure that the rest of your devices will work (most fans use IR).
    The beauty is not that it replaces your remotes, its how it combines them.

  12. Hi, I have a sateliete reciever and would like to record different shows at different times on different channels. I can program my VCR in regards to time, but how can I change the channels of my reciever while I’m away? Is there a remote that can do this?

  13. Dave:

    RE: your comment about the skip feature on 9/26, is that compatible with the TIVO HD? I just reluctanly switched from Ultimate TV to TIVO, and as far as user friendliness goes, Ultimate is a thousand times better. But one of my tuners broke and I wanted the HD receiver so I had no choice. However, I notice you can’t do a 30-second skip on TIVO. Is is really possible using this remote? Thanks.

  14. I have researched remotes – this is the one that I have decided to go with – Does anyone know where I could get one???? They seem to be out of stock everywhere……

  15. they are plenty available at target.com or walmart.com…

  16. How does the 520 work with Windows Media Center pc? Does the database contain contain Media Cetner PC info? I was considering the 680, but I like the 520 shape (and price) better. Any info will be appreciated. Thanks.

  17. Logitech has a extensive database of hardware so there is a very good chance it exists there. If there is a remote chance it does not, it can learn from your current remote. Although it works with hardware, Windows Media Center is server software so you need to be controlling the hardware that gets served from WMC. I use the DSM-320 and it works perfectly with that, even better than the remote that came with the DSM-320. I can’t compare the 680 to the 520, but I can say that I am very happy wih the 520 and especially it’s design and feel and the incredible IR on the thing (I don’t even come close to pointing it at my components and it sends the signals).

    Although it’s not all roses, there are some grips about the Harmony 520. For one the lack of documented functionality. For example it has an auto-on function when you pick it up, however it seems to be broken because it doesn’t work all the time and because of that many people don’t know it even has that function. I’ve seen a lot of posts that reflect that. Guess you can’t complain about a feature that’s not documented! Also the USB port is at the front of the remote with a rubber flap over it which feels like it’s just going to be sitting in the open position permanently soon. Luckily it doesn’t need updating often.

  18. Marc, you can easily configure the Tivo to skip 30 seconds at a time. Press Select, Play, Select, 3, 0, Select. The small button to the bottom right of the pause button is now a 30 second skip. I’ve had mine set up this way so long I’ve forgotton what that button is actually used for in a normal Tivo setup.

    You’ll have to do this again if you reset your Tivo or the power goes out, by the way.

  19. I’m a little confused as to what “macro” functions may be available in the 520. In actuality, all activities are “Watch TV”. As an example, in one case “Watch TV” may be to watch cable NTSC which requires the internal tuner and expand aspect ratio to be set (along with proper audio of course). Another “Watch TV” function may be watch HDTV which is in 16:9 aspect and requires the correct input and ATSC set top box to turn on. Another “Watch TV” function is watch commercial movies on a high end DVD player one; another watch a lo-def DVD-R recorded program from DVD player two. Another “Watch TV” function is watch HDTV from computer Hi-Def recorders through the DVI input. Will this 520 differentiate between all (or at least most) of these similar but different “Watch TV” activities using a single button to simply start each? Thanks.

  20. You can program custom macros. You can give them whatever name you want, and tell them which devices are involved and what inputs they should be on. When you hit that activity button it will turn off devices that are not involved in that activity (This can be configured to not turn the device off, if you are using the HD comcast DVR that they recommend you not turn off for example) that may already be on, and turn on devices and set them to the proper inputs for the new activity. On my 676 there are 3 activity buttons that have icons for TV, Movie and Music. In actuality you can set them to do whatever you want. Any additional activities you press the other activity button and they appear on the LCD to choose. Not sure if and how the 520 differs. Example: If I’m watching a DVD and I want to now play a game on my PC, I hit the other activity button. I choose the PC macro I made up. It turns off the DVD player, It changes the input on my TV to the DVI input that my computer is on. It changes my stereo reciever to the coaxial input that my computer is on. I’d have it turn on my computer too, but I’ve never bought the hardware to IR enable my PC.

  21. The remote is at Sears for $75 right now, only until end of the day Nov 23.
    Will it control a Replay TV accurately?

  22. I have an Epson Home 10 projector that I use for watching TV. Currently my media center (DVD recorder, receiver, CD player, etc) is next to the couch and the projector is above me. The wee remote for the projector requires that I point it up at the projector to turn it on.
    If I programmed this remote to “Watch TV” (switch on receiver, switch on DVD recorder, switch on projector), will it be powerful enough to control the projector? Or will I need to make a separate remote button for the projector. Frankly this would still be better than fiddling with separate remotes, but I’m curious as to how powerful the IR is…

  23. Yes, the ReplayTV codes are in the database. I haven’t used the 520 with a projector, but both the 676 and 659 which I previously owned controlled my NEC VT540 projector just fine from the couch – about 10′ away.

  24. How many activities can you program into the 520? I can see the 4 they have in the screen shots, can you scroll to additional?

    Thanks!

  25. I have the Logitech Z-5500 computer speakers that I am currently using as home audio. I’ve never seen Logitech in any remote program booklet. Would the 520 be able to control it?

  26. does the 520 have the ability to
    do R/F signals.

    does the 520 have the ability to
    rename menu’s/devices/other ect …

  27. Anyone knows how this compares to the Harmony 360? I had bought this 520, but had seen 360 for around the same price. Besides supporting xbox 360, are the 360 and 520′s functionality similar? This will be my first Harmony remote control.
    Also, there is a $30 rebate in the 360 box (I heard), do you know if it requires the purchase of xbox 360 to be valid?

  28. Does the 520 work with The DISH 501 PVR?

  29. I programmed a 520 for my sister over the holidays. The new web software is a step up from the old Harmonys, but not a huge one. Main thing I noticed was the easy of reordering activities.

    For those who have used other Harmonys, it is basically similar, except for the lack of hard activity buttons, less buttons overall than other models, and only 4 soft buttons. I also noticed that it did not seem to retain its memory through a battery change; no big deal as it simply requires a reupdate from the web site to restore its settings.

    Note that while Harmony remotes do provide some macros, the macro capability is less general than with some macro-oriented remotes. Basically, you get device-on and device-off macros. However, the “activity” design, in which the Harmony automatically keeps track of which components are on and off, which are used for each activity you define, and turns on and off the appropriate devices and sets the correct inputs, obviates a lot of the need for complex macros.

  30. So, this works with media center PC?
    also can you program it to work instead the included X360 media remote?
    Its almost the same desing of the harmony Xbox360 remote, but this model is much more nice on the looks, instead of the ugly white and green of the 360 remote that DOES NOT bends all right with other audio and video equipment.

  31. I have been disappointed by other All in one controllers. I assume this will control my TV, DVD, and Stereo. BUT, will it also control my Linksys Media Center Extender, and my Xbox 360? If so, SOLD!

  32. I know for sure it will control your Xbox 360 and I assume it will control your Linksys device. One of my other Harmoy remotes has controlled my Lutron light dimmer, NEC projector, and iM3 — so you can see their database of IR codes is humongous.

  33. Is there a place you can see the database of devices…

  34. I’m not aware of a database or listing that can be browsed. It sure would be a great marketing tool though!

    By the way, if your device isn’t supported, the Harmony remotes have the abilit to “learn” the correct IR codes.

  35. Trevor Taylor June 16, 2006 at 8:45 am

    I have an old Aiko TV, and I can’t
    get my 520 to learn any commands.
    It keeps saying Bad IR Detected,
    and that’s it. Useless!

    The old remote is obviously sending
    something, otherwise the 520 would
    not respond. But why does the 520
    reject the code? It won’t work if
    I try RAW mode either.

    Does anyone have a way around this?

  36. Trevor Taylor June 21, 2006 at 1:00 am

    Update to my last posting –
    I have taken the remote back to the store for a refund.

    Basically the user interface sucks. Who wants to have to log onto the Internet just to change one single button?

    I sent a Support Request to Logitacky and never even got an acknowledgement, let alone a reply to my question.

    The remote also has a mind of its own that I have not seen mentioned anywhere. If you pick it up, or even bump it, then the Glow light comes on! Some people might think this is a neat feature, but I don’t because it wastes battery power.

    I had six remotes. The database only found four of them. For one of them I managed to teach the Harmony, but for the Aiko I am still stuck. I have an old learning remote from Radio Shack that can learn from the Aiko, but its buttons are wearing out, which is why I wanted a new universal remote. Obviously, some remotes are compatible, but the Harmony is not.

    The packaging for the Harmony says boldly that it will work with ALL remotes, past, present and future. In Australia, this is false and misleading advertising because it clearly does not work with my TV.

    Not a happy camper!!!

  37. I’m sorry it didn’t work out for you. I’ve owned several Harmony remotes and they have indeed controlled everything including my room lights. Anything not in the database, they were able to learn.

    The glow feature can be enabled or disabled through the setup wizard. Additionally, a firmware update improved the glow functionality and thus battery life.

    I think the 520 is a nice entry-level Harmony. Though the pricey 880 is my favorite. You can occasionally find it on sale 25% – 50% off.

  38. I’ve had this remote for only a few hours, and I simply love it. I was trying to use the Sony RM-3000 before, and it just couldn’t do what the Harmony does. I love the fact that all codes are up to date on the internet. It couldn’t be easier.

  39. I bought this remote off e-bay (supposedly brand new),and although It is functioning amazingly well (even turns my PS2 ON/OFF w/o any special adapters, the battery life is sometimes only lasting a week, are most ppl here using NI-MH or ALKALINE? I am unsure if this is a defect with the remote or most likely cheap battery problem.

  40. An early version of the firmware operated in such a way that it seemed to kill battery life (and the backlight/tilt stuff didn’t work so well). Look for an update through your software and cross your fingers. Once mine was upgraded, I got a ton of life out of regular alkalines and the backlight/tilt worked perfectly.

  41. Well, I put in 4 NI-MH batteries and they didnt even last two weeks. Now I fully charged those batteries,and of the two weeks I only used the remote for prolly about 4-5 days because I’m so busy with school. Its really getting frustrated because when I want to use the remote it, the battery is dead. How can I check what the current firmware of the remote is?

  42. I checked the firmware version on my remote. It is 2.1 and the software version is V5 5.3.2. This time I used the browser to flash the remote, and it seems better. Is 2.1 the current firmware? I hope its not my batteries becuz they are really cheap type of china batteries but they are NI-MH…

  43. I need three remotes now for my DLP, starchoice satellite and dvd surround. this should replace them all as well as work the vcr and x-box?

  44. Works great, tried an R5G, couldn’t map all Dish network buttons (811). Also worked great with my new Onkyo SE504 Receiver. My wife likes the ease of use, one button to turn on/off the devices that are/are not needed. Got it for 79.99 from target.com.

  45. I am also a Time Warner customer and have just recently purchased the 520 online to replace about 4 remotes. I have yet to receive it and before I open it I want to make sure that the 520 will have the ability to “stretch” the screen in regards to switching from a regular non-hd program to an hd program. Right now with the Time Warner remote you have to press the # key to stretch it when watching regular TV to get rid of the side bars. Will the 520 have this same type of “#” button to accomplish this?

  46. Will the remote control an LCD tv, such as the olevia?

  47. my remote died. all instructions received from logitech have failed. anyone knows how to revive it? it says “welcome to your remote” without a backlit screen, and none of the buttons will make it come alive
    when the batteries are removed and replaced, it briefly lights up, but again, no buttons are working, and then dies again

  48. sorry, forgot to say that it is a harmony 520 model

  49. Paul, I’ve had several Harmony remotes over the years. One was bad and I called Logitech and after going through th troubleshooting steps, they arranged to send me a replacement unit. So while I don’t know the solution to your problem, if it really can’t be solved hopefully Logitech will give you another.

  50. I have a 520 and the backlight wont turn off causing the batteries to drain on a daily basis. any hekp out there

  51. I have exactly the same problem, i refreshed everything firmware software, remote as well, but nothing helped me…sombody solved the problem?

  52. Same here. I’ve owned the Xbox360 one for about 8 months and it’s just started to have this problem. The backlight turns on when i press the top buttons but it won’t turn off by itself. I have to press the glow button to turn make it turn off. If i forget it will be on all night and drain the batteries.

  53. For to let everybody know who has the same problem, i called the logitech service indicated on their website, and after some talks on phone and emails between the service they sent me a replacement unit (a whole, totally new remote control). So i think it worth to call them, with the new remote everything is okay, it doenst have the same problem anymore. Good luck…

  54. does anyone have directions for the harmony 520, my daughter threw them away, it is brand new and would like to use it.

  55. Loved the aesthetic design, but this remote is flawed. The volume / channel keys wear out and stop responding completely. The numeric keys constantly stick down and don’t pop-up, even on a brand new remote.

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