Thank you much for this generous info. I will use your advise and look for refurb. [ or NIB if I can find an older one] as far as key failure, I find that those soft ,gooey, rubber buttons fail quickest. What type of buttons are on the logitechs?
I read some about the "URC" remotes, but also heard the support is mostly non existent. Can you recommend a model # in case I can't find the right logitech? I need to control at least 5 devices, my current universal is very limited, and on my CD player tied into the avr, it will only turn it off and on [ play would be nice]! on the avr, off/ on and volume, tv, off/on volume and some limited settings, and nothing for the dish reciever. I don't need a complicated set up, just a good workable one.
Many harmonys have a mix of rubber buttons and dome contacts (ones that click). The rubber buttons can usually be repaired when they start to fail, but the dome contacts cannot. Unfortunately the dome ones are the what wears out first on harmony.
You are on your own with most URCs because they are sold and maintained by pro installers. So you either have to pay someone or find the software on your own. They do have lower end models for end users, like the R50 which are quite good.
If learning is all you want/need, nearly any universal remote $5-$20 will work fine, but will take a little more time and effort to set up the macros (activities) and aren't quite as intuitive to use on complex systems. If cost is your main concern, remotes like the URC WR7 (backlit) and RCA RCRP05B (not backlit) suggested in recent threads will do everything you need for less than $20. Harmony's are easier to set up and operate thanks to the LCD and programming via PC, but cost more. It's money well spent IMO since you can be up and running in just a few minutes.
If you have no need for macros, you may as well stick with a learning Dish remote like the 21.0 suggested earlier. But IMO, the buttons on the Dish remote are too stiff and they are a little more difficult to program than other similarly priced universals.