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  1. #1
    Senior Member Lefisc's Avatar
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    Harmony 650 Vs. URC 850: The Harmony wins!

    I’ll divide this review into two parts, the conclusion first, and for those interested the details later.

    Pat One: A while back I asked for advice on getting a new remote. For nearly 20 years I have used the URC 800/850 for both my complex Media set up and my simple upstairs. I used the 850 for both because my dealer gave me the software and instruction book to the 850 and I didn’t have the opportunity to learn another. Every seven or eight years though I had to replace the unit when the button stuck or wore out.

    The $55 Harmony 650 was the better choice, the only choice, for my upstairs unit. The URC sells for about $250.

    I have a Marantz 7009 receiver, a Verizon cable Box, Oppo 95 Blu Ray and a LG 55 inch OLED TV, which came with a magic wand that worked the “smart” and streaming TV functions. The URC, even with updates was unable to use the smart functions, meaning I always needed the original remote. The Harmony IS able to do that, so I only need one.

    If starting from scratch, the 650 is a bit easier to set up because it anticipates your uses and asks you questions. The URC does NOT do that, but is a tad more versatile for more complex uses. I project that it would take you one to two hours to set up either. The Harmony also has a helpful “assistant” in first uses it. And the Harmony “lights” up when grabbed, not the URC.

    Finally, I had IR relays that go inside cabinets and the 650 actually works a bit better, I don’t have to aim it as well as the URC.

    Part two: The more involved stuff.

    1. The URC came with complete instructions, the 650 does not and needs too. So even some easy tasks on the 650 were time consuming because you did not know where to go a look. For example, we did NOT want our cable box shut off with the “all off” button, because it takes time to turn on. It took 1 minute to fix, but a long time to find out how. And IF it could be fixed.
    2. With the URC you can get a RF receiver and can have hidden components. Not so on the 650, where you need IF relays.
    3. The 650 takes a maximum of eight units, the URC is fifteen.
    4. A big deal, my only real complaint, is that the MENU items take a minute to change the order in the URC but the 45 pages of menus for the LG would take HOURS to completely change so I gave up!
    5. I should mention that the URC allows to to save on your own computer, as a file, your different configurations. This makes it easy to experiment. You must store your config for the 650 on the Harmony site.
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    Last edited by Lefisc; 10-28-2016 at 12:27 PM.
    Barry
    Surround Pre-Amp
    : Krell 707 3D; Amp: (center) Krell 400e; Amp Fronts Krell 600e; SACD: Krell Cipher; FM: Day Sequerra FM Reference; Blu-Ray: Oppo BDP 205; Speakers: Revel Ultima Salon 2; Center: Revel Voice 2; Rear/Back: Thiel Powerplanes/Krell S1500 amp; Subs: 2 SVS SB-13 Ultra; Turntable: VPI 19 Mk 4 w/Tonearm SME 309 & Audioquest 401i; HDTV: Verizon; Projector: JVC DLA-RS66U; Screen: Vue Tech 108; Internet Radio: Sonos; Remote: MX850; Pioneer Elite LDS-2 Laser Disc

  2. #2
    Administrator Tracy Rainwater's Avatar
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    I had the Sunfire-branded version of your remote back when I ran a Sunfire pre/pro. It was no fun to program and I never got the macros to work well.

    For ease of programming, Harmony wins hands down. They were designed to be programmed by the end user, so they had to make the programming pretty simple.

    The URC was designed for the pros to program. I have the MX-880 and LOVE its RF capabilities. However, it is not easy to program even with the manual. I have mine working but it's not 100%. The Harmony One, that it replaced and I still have, simply works. The issue is that my IR repeaters are not 100% reliable since all the AV equipment is downstairs in the AV closet. The MX-880 and its RF to IR system works well in my situation.

  3. #3
    Senior Member Lefisc's Avatar
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    I now understand that the 850 was for pros, but my dealer gave it to me, with software and instructions, not telling me that. I got it to run well, macros and all.

    Tracy, I am using the Harmony on my SIMPLE system. My big media room, with the equipment listed below, still uses the URC.
    Barry
    Surround Pre-Amp
    : Krell 707 3D; Amp: (center) Krell 400e; Amp Fronts Krell 600e; SACD: Krell Cipher; FM: Day Sequerra FM Reference; Blu-Ray: Oppo BDP 205; Speakers: Revel Ultima Salon 2; Center: Revel Voice 2; Rear/Back: Thiel Powerplanes/Krell S1500 amp; Subs: 2 SVS SB-13 Ultra; Turntable: VPI 19 Mk 4 w/Tonearm SME 309 & Audioquest 401i; HDTV: Verizon; Projector: JVC DLA-RS66U; Screen: Vue Tech 108; Internet Radio: Sonos; Remote: MX850; Pioneer Elite LDS-2 Laser Disc

  4. #4
    Administrator Tracy Rainwater's Avatar
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    Just for kicks, you might set up a second screen on the Harmony for your main theater. It might just change your mind. I did it with my Harmony One, just 'cause.

    It's stupid easy.

  5. #5
    Senior Member Lefisc's Avatar
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    The 850 works perfectly and I use it with ir relays. But should it die a natural death I will go Harmony. And maybe just the 650!
    Barry
    Surround Pre-Amp
    : Krell 707 3D; Amp: (center) Krell 400e; Amp Fronts Krell 600e; SACD: Krell Cipher; FM: Day Sequerra FM Reference; Blu-Ray: Oppo BDP 205; Speakers: Revel Ultima Salon 2; Center: Revel Voice 2; Rear/Back: Thiel Powerplanes/Krell S1500 amp; Subs: 2 SVS SB-13 Ultra; Turntable: VPI 19 Mk 4 w/Tonearm SME 309 & Audioquest 401i; HDTV: Verizon; Projector: JVC DLA-RS66U; Screen: Vue Tech 108; Internet Radio: Sonos; Remote: MX850; Pioneer Elite LDS-2 Laser Disc

  6. #6
    Senior Member Lefisc's Avatar
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    Tracy, just thinking. My Oppo, Marantz an Sonos all work from ipad or android apps. I wonder how soon ALL components will forgo the remote and just give apps? MY LG TV remote, the one that came with the set, is almost useless, it has so little on it.
    Barry
    Surround Pre-Amp
    : Krell 707 3D; Amp: (center) Krell 400e; Amp Fronts Krell 600e; SACD: Krell Cipher; FM: Day Sequerra FM Reference; Blu-Ray: Oppo BDP 205; Speakers: Revel Ultima Salon 2; Center: Revel Voice 2; Rear/Back: Thiel Powerplanes/Krell S1500 amp; Subs: 2 SVS SB-13 Ultra; Turntable: VPI 19 Mk 4 w/Tonearm SME 309 & Audioquest 401i; HDTV: Verizon; Projector: JVC DLA-RS66U; Screen: Vue Tech 108; Internet Radio: Sonos; Remote: MX850; Pioneer Elite LDS-2 Laser Disc

  7. #7
    Moderator jerrich's Avatar
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    My 650 does not handle the Zvox well, so I still have to use thumb gymnastics to get everything done. I have to turn on the tv for my wife for her to see it.
    JR

  8. #8
    Administrator Tracy Rainwater's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lefisc View Post
    Tracy, just thinking. My Oppo, Marantz an Sonos all work from ipad or android apps. I wonder how soon ALL components will forgo the remote and just give apps? MY LG TV remote, the one that came with the set, is almost useless, it has so little on it.
    You're right, a lot of the components that are coming out, and within the past couple of years, have apps. I have used the DirecTV app when my IR system was having issues, and I have also used the Oppo app. I love that they work without line of sight.

    The issue comes from not being able to power the individual components on, using their respective apps. If they could solve that problem and a company like Logitech could integrate them into an app to control all apps, that would be awesome.

  9. #9
    Administrator Tracy Rainwater's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jerrich View Post
    My 650 does not handle the Zvox well, so I still have to use thumb gymnastics to get everything done. I have to turn on the tv for my wife for her to see it.
    JR
    Which model do you have? I just checked the Soundbase.770 in the Harmony code library, and it's listed. Just in case you would consider getting your wife a remote of her own.
    https://support.myharmony.com/en-us/compatibility

  10. #10
    Moderator jerrich's Avatar
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    It's an older full size model #575 that still sounds as good as anything now available (according to them).
    JR

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