Harmony 628 remote limitations

Certain aspects of the Harmony 628 (and, I suspect, other Harmony remotes) are starting to irritate me. What’s really stupid is how easily they could be fixed.

On the “Customize Buttons” pages, you can assign certain functions to the six buttons beside the LCD (three on each side). The functions can then (in theory) vary depending on the mode you’re in. This is great. I put a button to control the captioning display on my TV (my girlfriend likes to turn on subtitles, English is not her first language.) I also put on PgUp and PgDn buttons to use with the Rogers program guide on my digital terminal.

But, what really irritates me is that I can’t control which function is assigned to which button. PgUp and PgDn imply a particular positioning that one would expect… PgUp above PgDn. But I can’t get the remote to look like that no matter how I beg. It puts PgUp on the top right, and PgDn on the middle left. It’s stupid. The application has six slots for those buttons. All it has to do is program the buttons in the order I specified. How hard can that be?

And, another thing that bugs me: I tried to create a specially-customized “Watch TV” activity, specially designed to work with the Rogers Video-On-Demand service. Ie, Play, Stop, Rewind, etc should work. I wanted to start by just copying my existing “Watch TV” activity… but you can’t copy an activity, you have to start from scratch. So I did. But then, for some reason, when I changed the button assignments for the “Watch ROD” activity, they also changed for “Watch TV”. Sometimes the button assignments are independant for different activities (like, Watch a DVD seems to have independant button assignments), but other times they are shared. I’m not sure why.

And, why oh why does the backlight turn off 10 seconds after I turn it on, instead of 10 seconds after I stop using it? Always… ALWAYS, the backlight is turning off while I’m still using it. A constant irritation… but so easily fixed. Why won’t they fix it? I know I can’t be the only one who has ever complained about it.

Overall, I like the Harmony and the Harmony web-site… but even with my simple setup, I’m starting to feel it’s cramping my style. I know this nifty little gadget is capable of so much more.

Has anybody reverse-engineered this beast yet? Is there an open-source alternative firmware for the Harmony hardware that I could switch to?

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