Setup and Leveraging Activities

To setup the Harmony 880 remote is fairly easy and refined. It’s obvious that Logitech has spent some time refining the installation process because it’s all very nicely laid out and not overly technical while being very concise.

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Those technophobes should complete Step 4.
It will make your life easier later.

The instructions leaflet has basic 8 steps you need to get started in configuring the remote like inserting the battery and connecting it to your PC. Perhaps an important step is step 4 where you record the brand and model of the devices you want to control. For user who is a little uncomfortable with their equipment, this step is important as it will help you later in the setup when you actually program the remote. The last step on the guide you install which starts you on the way to getting the Harmony 880 to work with your equipment.

The software used to configure the Harmony 880 isn’t like your typical hardware install, rather the utility is web based which uses an Internet connection to retrieve information from a central database. The central database contains all the different hardware available on the market such as AV receivers, DVD players, TVs and more! Since the Harmony remote is designed to control your components, it does make sense that a central server be used so that your remote continues to support the latest products. So to get the Logitech Harmony 880 up and running you will need to use a Internet connection.

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When you launch the software for the first time, you are asked to create an account so that you can configure the remote. It’s interesting to note that you can set up multiple accounts (using different emails), this way you can keep different Harmony settings and reprogram the remote whenever you want. This could be useful if you want to use the same remote at the office and at home.

Next step you select the type of devices you have and specify the model number for each component (this is where the list of devices and model numbers you wrote down earlier comes in handy).

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The last step is to define your “Activities”. Activities are things you want to do with the remote like “Watch TV” and “Listen to Radio”. The list of Activities you have for the remote is automatically generated from the devices you own. So if your AV receiver has both an integrated DVD player and a FM tuner, you will have “Watch a DVD” and “Listen to the Radio” Activities available to you automatically by the setup software. By the same token, the software will not give you an Activity that doesn’t make sense for your devices, so you won’t get an Activity like “Watch a DVD” if you do not own a DVD player.

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Now to refine each Activity to your particular needs, the software asks you a series of simple questions that help it figure out how you use your devices. For example when watching TV use your integrated TV speakers, but when watching DVDs you use your AV receiver, the software’s questioning helps differentiate these two tasks.

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Once you have gone through the questions, the software confirms your setup and then loads it onto the Harmony 880. The loading process takes a few seconds and varies depending on the number of devices you have. It could take a while, so be patient. Once the remote has been programmed, you can disconnect it and begin using it to control your devices.

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Leveraging Activities

Though the software creates some pre-canned Activities that make sense for your hardware, you are not limited by these! You can define your own Activities and they will appear in the main Activities menu on the remote, and what you create can only be limited by your imagination.

For me, when I have guests over I like to play a DVD on the TV, and play streamed music from my HTPC. Using the Harmony’s ability to define your own “Utility” Activity, I programmed the Harmony 880 with an Activity which plays a DVD, but sets the audio input on the receiver to my computer.

If you have lights that are controlled by remote, you can even make a “Barry White” activity which will dim the lights and play the CD player. Really the possibilities are endless.

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