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Harmony SST-659  

post #1 of 227
Thread Starter 
Well, I got my SST-659 yesterday and just finished setting it up.

First, my gear is: Outlaw 950, B&K AV5125, Panny AE500, VInc Bravo D1

Why did I get this remote (which costs $160-$200 from authorized dealers)?

1. I needed a remote that was programmable, with a massive database of codes. I have gone through three "learning" remotes, none of which could handle all of my esoteric gear.

2. Because the WIFE wants to be able to push one button that says "Watch TV", or "Watch DVD" and she wants it all to come on and switch appropriately. Yes, I had it going with macros before, but a) there's now a button that says it right there and b) see (1.) above.

So what do I think?

good things:

The setup was fairly easy. All of my gear was in their database (except for the AE500, but the AE300 code works fine for now).

[After 3 hours], all of my gear switches and plays perfectly. I haven't played with the navigation through the menus, etc, but I'll assume it works fine. If it doesn't you'll hear about it.

I think their web page setup is pretty good. It's nice to have a list of your items and their settings and a central location to change them.


It took 3 hours of going upstairs (computer) and downstairs (HT) repeatedly.

The codes for the outlaw were not quite right (but the remote learned them easily).

It had some trouble with downloading the scripts, but I emptied my "Temporary Internet Files" from IE and it worked fine after that.

Their menu system is not the best in the world. You almost always have to finish what you started. There's no main navigation sidebar where you can just go back if you clicked on the wrong thing. And there are very few places where you can get back to your "home" page.

feel, fit, finish:

nice. Fits well in my hand, buttons are in (mostly) logical places, the screen is easy to read.

Overall, I'd give it an 8/10 right now. That may go up or down after a few weeks of usage.

post #2 of 227
I'm soryy to tell you this now but there is an authorized dealer who is selling it for significantly less than 160. I'm not sure what the rules are on that sort of thing so if anyone wants to know who just send me a PM.

I just recieved mine today and am setting it up as I write this. I'll summarize my thoughts and post when I am finished.
post #3 of 227
Originally posted by bartucz
First, my gear is: Outlaw 950, B&K AV5125, Panny AE500, VInc Bravo D1
How's your D1 responding? I can't get my 659 to work reliably with my D1, particularly the direction keys. I've tried the commands from Harmony's database, and I've also tried re-learning the commands from the D1's original remote. I'm waiting for return email help from Harmony tech support.

My other equipment works perfectly with the 659.
post #4 of 227
Well I finished getting the SST-659 set up and programmed as I wanted and I have to say I am amazed. No more having to pre-set up the system for my wife to watch a video tape or dvd if I'm not going to be around!

My gear: Denon 3803, Panasonic dvd-cp67, Panasonic PT-L300 projector, Mitsubishi U746 Svhs, and Dish 6000. Also, I have this running through a radio shack IR repeater for everything except the projector.

All of my equipment was in their database, however, I did have to learn the input commands for the projector, as the ones in their database for Svideo didn't work right.

I love the internet setup. I had my equipment already set up before my remote arrived so that cut back on the time it took me. I had it completely programmed and tested in about an hour.

The ergonomics of this remote are great...nice small size for easy onehanded operation. It looks and feels good and I like the blue backlighting.

As it stands right now I highly recommend this remote and, as I said in the post above, one of the authorized dealers is selling these for significantly less than all the others I checked. If I find any glaring problems during day to day use I'll be sure to post them...
post #5 of 227
Thread Starter 

you're right, the D1 commands are not correct.

up and down work, but very slowly.

left, right and select/ok do nothing.

back to the web page.

I guess when you pay $150 for a DVD player, you have to expect some of this. Although when you pay even more than that for the remote, you expect it to work right out of the box.

anyway, happy thanksgiving everyone.

I'll report back on the D1 later.

post #6 of 227
Thread Starter 
ok, I actually got it to control the D1 properly using the learning functions.

However, you have to wait 5 seconds between key presses when controlling the D1 with the Harmony, even if you change the "Speed settings" for the device.

It seems weird, but I think it is the D1. Since the Harmony is sending the signal (little green light goes on when I press the button), but nothing happens on the D1.

This is annoying, but I can live with it. I'll keep playing with it and let you know if I figure out a setting that works better.

post #7 of 227
Why did you folks buy the SSt-659 and not the SSt-768? Any regrets?
post #8 of 227
Thread Starter 
only one reason - the wife.

Press one button to watch TV, watch a DVD or listen to music and the button is labelled right there on the remote.

If it were just me, I would have gotten something else.

post #9 of 227
Originally posted by bartucz
ok, I actually got it to control the D1 properly using the learning functions.

However, you have to wait 5 seconds between key presses when controlling the D1 with the Harmony, even if you change the "Speed settings" for the device.
I'm still waiting for better results. A 5 second pause between key presses is not 'proper' no matter how inexpensive the D1 is. It's own remote, which couldn't cost more than $5., works correctly, so my feeling is the Harmony should too. I've been working on re-recording the commands over and over in the RAW mode and they're getting better. I'm playing around with how long I press the buttons while recording.
post #10 of 227
one reason was the wife for me as well. Although at the price I got the harmony remote I think it is great. The programming and usb connectivity are great as well.

I can imagine that the remotes you get with a jp1 cable are much more of a pain to program. I am very pleased with this remote thus far.
post #11 of 227
Thread Starter 
I find the D1 to be dodgy even with its own remote, but I usually just put the DVD in and play it anyway - I'm not a big user of the extra functions, so I don't really mind.

post #12 of 227
Why did you folks buy the SSt-659 and not the SSt-768? Any regrets?
I wanted to ask the same question. I have been trying to do my research on a new remote for the wife and kids and these 2 models seem very interesting and at the top of the list. I have already played with the web interface and that seems to work fine for my equipment, but why didn't you choose the 768 over the 659? Was it just the cost? The lack of need for the display? or was the 659 just simpler? Any body have any other pros and cons to share between these models? Any info is appreciated. Thanks - CP
post #13 of 227
The two major reasons that our customers prefer the 659 over the 768 are as follows:

1. The 659 has dedicated buttons for channel guide/menu navigation. For PVR (ie: Tivo, Replay) users this is a big plus becuase you don't have to switch between modes like you have to do on the 768 where certain number buttons (5,7,8,9,0) are also used for channel guide navigation.

2. Accessing individual commands and activities on the 768 is done with a scroll wheel as opposed to buttons on the 659. I've had a number of customers who don't like the scroll wheel.

The 768 allows for total customization through access to its XML programming, so if that's what you're looking for and you don't have a PVR, it's a better choice. The 659 is billed as the "family remote" and that's exactly what it is IMO.
post #14 of 227
The scroll wheel on the 768 would have had my fiance's head spinning ;) Honestly, the 659 is extremely well designed and kinda reminds me of the TiVo peanut remote (another plus with the fiance). Plus the Activity buttons at top make the more common Activities under 1-button control. The 768 sounds great for installers and calibrators, but most of us who just want to control the components in one Home Theater will be satisfied with the 659. The only gripe I have is that the REW, PLAY, FF, etc. buttons are at the very bottom which gets kinda awkward if you are used to them being in the middle. NOT a big deal, though.
post #15 of 227
Thanks for the info. - CP
post #16 of 227
Ok, you all convinced me to buy a SST 659. :)
But I tried to support Mike, but his web site barfs at the order page and doesn't like the coupon plainly stated on the products page.
And no one answers the phone?
Is this outfit reliable?
post #17 of 227
The coupon code for Free Shipping on the main product page seems to be working fine. We had a number of orders come through on that page today. If you called after business hours, you wouldn't get an answer, but I'm available by e-mail almost any time. :D
post #18 of 227
I'm leaning closer to getting the SST-659, but a couple of questions. I looked at the buttons on the remote, and how do you control buttons like the PIP option on the TV? Also, I assume there is a button assigned to switch TV modes (for example when I want to switch the TV screen to my computer)? Also, if I understand correctly, I will assign what components will turn on when I hit, for example, "Watch TV". Since I run the TV sound through my Denon receiver, does that mean that the sound will be controlled from the Harmony remote and yet I'll still be able to contol the PIP and other various TV options from the Harmony? I hope I'm making sense. Thanks in advance....
post #19 of 227
clemsound85 - when you set up the remote Activities, it walks you through which devices are used, which device controls sound, which inputs your devices need to be on, etc. Once you get through all the online setup (it goes REAL fast and easy), you connect the remote to the computer and download the configuration to the remote. Then, when you hit one of the Activity buttons (Watch TV for example) the remote checks its memory to see if it "remembers" turning any of the devices on already. All devices that are turned off get turned on and all devices get set to the correct inputs as specified in the setup. While in an Activity, you have direct access to Activity buttons which you can specify in the setup. Special buttons (PIP, Aspect Select, etc.) are located in the LCD and you can store several pages (6 buttons per page) worth of these special buttons. If you program the Activity to use the Stereo Receiver to control sound, Volume up/down and Mute will automatically adjust the Receiver volume.

To switch from TV to computer, you can set up 2 Activities - Watch TV and Watch TV COM. You can assign either of these to the Watch TV button and the other can be accessed using the More Activities button. The only difference between the 2 is that one uses TV for video and the other uses Computer. When you switch between the 2 Activities, the unused device will be switched off and the used device will be switched on.

This remote is REALLY flexible and you can create button combinations and macros within macros. I have only had it for a couple of weeks and I can't believe how powerful it is.
post #20 of 227
I'm eagerly awaiting the UPS guy to deliver mine... I was another who can't order direct from Harmony, so I got it from www.********** instead. It tried to download some exe file when I clicked checkout. Being the impatient man I am, I decided to take the hit on the shipping (by not buying direct from Harmony) in order to get it quick.

The "preview" setup makes it look like nothing to program it. It'll be nice having a remote that makes system operation simple enough for my parents to use, and I'll be glad to be down to 1 remote. Even as flexible as the remote for my receiver (elite 45TX) is, it can't do the Tivo stuff properly (for me). I was considering the 768 instead, but the PVR functionality was the deal maker for me. Now, if only there was a 768 (with scroll wheel), that had as many hard buttons as the 659... :D

post #21 of 227
The SST-659 has a button "Watch TV", but I need something like the following: "Watch Hi-Def TV", "Watch Regular TV" as I need different settings for each. I also have broader needs than just "Listen To Music" such as "Listen to CD", "Listen to SACD", "Listen to DVD-A", etc. Can the SST-659 handle this or should I go for the SST-768?
post #22 of 227
Yes, you would just set them up, then, when you push the "More Activities" button, the additional activities would be displayed on the LCD screen.
post #23 of 227
I'd like to get the Harmony SST-659, but I have a wierd situation. I live out in the middle of nowhere and I don't currently have internet access at home. The copper feeding my telephone service is in very poor condition, so I can only get 12kbps through a dial-up connection. The phone company won't upgrade it because my voice service works fine. I'm having DirectWay put in after the first of the year, but I really want this remote ASAP.
Does anyone think that having only 12kbps to set up the remote will cause me any real problems? Besides, the time it takes......
post #24 of 227
Two responses here from an SST-659 user of a couple of weeks....
only gripe I have is that the REW, PLAY, FF, etc. buttons are at the very bottom which gets kinda awkward if you are used to them being in the middle.
You can program the transport buttons up to the navigation buttons for your "Play VCR" activity. That moves them up higher on the remote.
Does anyone think that having only 12kbps to set up the remote will cause me any real problems? Besides, the time it takes......
Since I have cable modem access, I can't comment directly. I will say that it is variable. Last night, for instance, it took FOREVER for me to save my configuration changes and download to my 659. Most of the time, though, it's rather quick. But, again, I have cable modem. If you are patient, it might be OK.
post #25 of 227
I have to say again how great this remote is and how great the customer service at Harmony is. I asked for a special programming set up that is not available through their website and they got it immediately after the holiday. Then I discovered a different option and needed my original request changed back and once again, it was completed in one day.

That is just amazing customer service.

Also, I recommend that anyone who is considering this remote go to their website and set up all of your components. It definitely sold me.
post #26 of 227
I have been looking at a universal remote for quite some time now and last night after checking out the Harmony website, ordered one of the 659's from Surf. The process of setting it up could not have been any easier! I frankly have been slow to buy anything because I just did not want to go through all the time it normally takes to set the controller up. I will follow up with my impression after my remote arrives. I am so looking forward to using 1 remote rather than 5!!
post #27 of 227
BrownRB - you can set up a LOT of Activities (I don't know what the limit is) and assign any one of them to the Watch TV button. This button is just a shortcut to one of your Activities. All Activities are also accessible in the LCD pages after pressing the "More Activities" button. I have the same kinda setup where I assigned "Watch TV" Activity to the Watch TV button and I have a "Watch Tv HT" Activity that I use to watch with the Home Theater system - works like a charm.

healthmallory - I don't see why this would be a problem (the downloaded file isn't really that big). The part that takes the most time is the actual programming of the remote after the file is downloaded.
post #28 of 227
I picked up the 659 at the Long Beach EXPO a couple of weeks back for a great price (well below retail).

This baby is a great alternative to having to deal with some of the complicated remotes that require programming macros. It has both memory capability and activity based (macro equivalent) capability and is a breeze to setup.

Regarding customer service, incredible, every time I call them the phone is answered immediately (no waiting). The service reps are right on top of their product and will help you through every step of the setup if you need them.

Suggestions to the manufacturer:

Make your setup menu more user friendly.

1-As noted above, you need to be able to back out of any given setup process and or cancel all changes and return to the original setup you started from.

2-Navigating across functions, or returning to the beginning of a setup function is cumbersome at times as well.

Also, go to weekend coverage on your customer service support, or at least extend your hours to 10:00 pm on week days. This is critical as you need to be close to your equipment when setting up the remote. Most people work for a living and don't have the luxury of doing this during business hours.

Other than that you have a great product for the money.

post #29 of 227
heathmallory: 12 KBPS, ouch.

I don't think it would be a problem, but downloading the config might be extremely long.
post #30 of 227
O.K., here's my latest challenge for Harmony: I have the usual HT stuff, but I also have a separate preamp that drives a whole-house system with speakers in every room, getting its source via tape-out from my HT receiver. Sometimes I want to listen to music out of the HT receiver and the preamp at the same time which means that I need to have control over both volume controls. I need to be able to quickly toggle back and forth between the HT receiver and preamp volume controls. (I have IR repeaters in every room).

Can the Harmony SST-659 handle this?
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