What makes the Harmony 880 unique is its colour LCD display which occupies the top third of the unit. As you change activities and perform different tasks on the remote, the LCD display changes to give you actions relevant to what you are doing. There are 8 generic buttons (4 on either side of the LCD) whose functions are linked to what the LCD is displaying at the moment, thus giving a lot of functionality and flexibility.
The colour LCD display isn’t high resolution and is probably just capable of 256 colours. If you’ve used first or second generation colour display phones you get a general idea of what to expect from this LCD. When you pick up the remote, the tilt sensor detects the movement and the back lights turn on illuminating the LCD and the silver keys. After 20 seconds, the lights automatically turn off to conserve battery life, but as long as the remote senses movement, the lights will stay on. With the configuration software you can change the glow time to short or longer periods.
The response rating of the LCD is rather poor – when changing between options, ghost images of the previous screen are left lingering on the screen for a few seconds before disappearing completely. This is a very minor quirk which doesn’t get in the way of readability or usability of the Harmony 880 at all.
The Harmony 880 remote is roughly the same size as your typical remote and it’s molded to fit the palm of your hand comfortably. I have moderate sized hands and I didn’t find any of the buttons too far for me to use properly. Users with small hands may find the corner buttons annoying since it requires a little more effort to reach, but in the end you will grow accustomed to it.
The remote has a reassuring weight to it, but at the same time isn’t too light to feel cheap. The buttons are plastic and slightly clicky.
For power, the Harmony uses a 3.7V, 950mAh lithium ion battery similar to a cell phone. When not in use, you can put the Harmony 880 back into its cradle to charge, though it can sit out of its cradle for days before needing to recharge. Yes, there is a battery indicator on the remote so you know how much juice is left in your device. How frequently you need to charge will depend on how often you use the remote of course.
At the very tip of the remote is the IR emitter and a mini USB port so you can connect the 880 to your PC. At the bottom of the Harmony 880, you will find an IR receiver which is used to program new IR commands.