Last year Scott Hanselman raved about the Harmony 880. I have been using one for three months, and have to say it tamed my fairly complex media set-up. The system was manageable before I cancelled Tivo + premium cable, instead switching to an xbox using xmbc. At this stage using the system effectively required juggling five remotes, and it was no surprise that my wife gave up on the main TV. She will not let me tell her how much the Harmony 880 cost, but can now watch IPTV streamed from a server PC (elsewhere in the house) to the xbox with video directed to a 480p Plasma with 5.1 audio via a fairly complex receiver. All that with one remote!

At a street price of $160->$200 this is by no means a cheap remote. Still, for $160 + two hours of my time (including teaching the remote xbox IR commands), we now have a state of the art media system that is simple to use. The only glitches with the remote so far are that it rattles (weirdly almost every house guest to has the same urge to drop it on my hardwood floor!), it also can become a little confused when playing audio from the xbox, but programming a custom key to resolved that.

It appears the only upgrade to the 880 is the 890 which also handles RF. The home theater buffs I asked I asked are unsure if this is just RF to a remote IR transmitter, or RF to device like an xbox wireless remote so I just bought the 880 + an xbox IR receiver.

As Scott said this thing is butter, and seeing that 480p Plasma's are in Best Buy for ~$1000 I think everyone I know will soon be in need of a remote like this:



Regarding the Plasma purchase; my 2 cents is just buy a 480p off-brand $1000 model today. $2500 for a semi HDTV plasma is waste IMO as they are not 1080p and little HD material is available anyway; in about two years buy a real 1080p Plasma for $1500 and give the 480p to your kids who will then love you for ever. Regular DVDs look fantastic on my Maxent Plasma; black levels are a little annoying at times, but well worth the $1000+ saving.