Today we’re looking at the Logitech Harmony Ultimate Remote Control
The single most amazing remote control available for purchase... is finally a complete product!
Logitech's Harmony line has been available in one iteration or another for a long time now. Over the years form has become smaller and smaller, batteries became rechargeable, and physical buttons became touchscreen buttons and gestures. The Harmony Ultimate is all of the best features collected over the years in one package. Read on...
Main advantage: compatible with every device I've thrown at it
Main concern: touchscreen is easy to accidentally press
Unique features: charging dock, wireless sync, 2.4” color touchscreen, and Philips Hue lighting control
Harmony made its name with a stunningly full list of compatible products. From fireplaces to obscure DVD players to light bulbs. That's right, I turn the lights in my office on and off with the same piece of plastic that controls my TV.
Philips Hue light bulbs have been featured on this site before. They are app (and now remote) controlled smart light bulbs that change color, have adjustable brightness, and can be set to operate on triggers and timers. It's a great match with Harmony's already full offering and it means that as soon as I press the button to "watch a movie", my Blu-ray player switches on and my lights dim to black.
Aside from this nice new trick, the Harmony Ultimate does everything it's ancestors did, just much better. Programming is quick and straightforward. The Harmony online portal, MyHarmony, is a web app that controls initial setup. You can define activities that get literal titles like "play a game" or "watch a movie". You select the devices included in a given activity, and then clarify things like proper input for a selected device. There is a guided setup mode that makes assumptions for you and a freestyle setup which can get very involved. You can program an activity to include direction down to an individual button presses on a particular remote with pauses between.
Past models had a pretty big programming hurdle that interrupted the harmony experience. Programming used to be controlled by a wired sync and an inconsistent web app only. This was a clunky, involved process that didn't fit at all with the convenience that Logitech was selling with the Harmony remotes. The harmony ultimate changes all of that with a wireless syncing feature. You still need to prompt the sync on your remote, but it's much simpler overall. You'll make your changes online, click sync in the app, and the changes are queued up. The next time you are at the actual remote, click sync (buried in a menu unfortunately) and the changes are imported.
The Harmony mobile remote app is also a welcome addition to the system. The experience is nearly one for one, the mobile app even outshines the physical remote in some cases. Two finger swipe is possible on the mobile app but not on the actual remote. Using any smartphone as a universal remote becomes possible with the inclusion of a wired hub in the Harmony Ultimate kit. The hub receives input from your phone through Wi-Fi and sends out the proper RF/IR signals to your devices. Most any modern phone will work, it doesn't matter if your device has a built-in remote control functionality. The app is available for Android and iPhone and if you're intrigued by the app itself, you can purchase the hub separately and have much of the experience at more than 1/3rd the price.
Thank you again to Logitech for supplying their product for review.
Harmony Ultimate with hub by Logitech
Is it worth buying: If you want the best and you want the full package, then yes. BUY WITH CONFIDENCE.
ENJOY YOUR GADGETS!