April 20, 2014

Logitech Harmony Ultimate review

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Logitech introduced a pair of new remote control options back in April with the debut of the Logitech Harmony Ultimate and the Logitech Harmony Smart Control. Both devices take advantage of Logitech’s Harmony Hub and Harmony smartphone app and bring a new level of convenience to your living room. We recently spent time reviewing the Harmony Ultimate.

Setting up the Harmony Ultimate proved to be somewhat of a minor challenge for me. Maybe it was my Wi-Fi internet connection on the laptop, but I ran into some errors in the initial setup process. After unplugging and re-connecting the different devices, and logging out a couple of time, I found that the process ended up moving along much quicker.

Truth be told, I imagine it was due to a wonky Wi-Fi signal. This, however, reminded me that the process was a touch easier for the first Harmony remote I used a few years ago, the Harmony One.  Unlike the part model and its downloadable setup file, the Ultimate requires you be connected and logged into the Logitech website.

Once I had gotten past the issue of a small firmware update, it was very easy for me to go through the remainder of the process and tell my remote setup which devices I owned. Without any problems, I was able to indicate which television model, DVR, and game consoles I had hooked up in the living room. All you need to know is the manufacturer and model number; Logitech’s massive database does the rest. Upon the final set up everything was synchronized between the remote and my Logitech account.

One of the best features of the Harmony line of remotes is the ability to create actions such as ‘Watch TV’ or ‘Play Bluray’. A few minutes of set up is all it takes to tell the remote which devices will be used and on what input you need. Got a bunch of devices hooked up to HDMI, composite, and others? Presto. No more fussing around with changing channels and using various remotes. Tap the button that says ‘Play XBOX’ and watch it turn on the console and switch your TV to the right input.

Within a matter of minutes I was turning on and off the television, telling it what channels to, go to switching inputs and more. It worked flawlessly and I was pleased at how responsive the remote control actually was.

The physical hardware of the remote is very nice; I like the matte black finish, and the contours feel very comfortable in hand. The small touch screen is responsive and, overall, it is a pleasure to be able to slide up and down or left and right through menus. Also of note, the display provides quick access to favorite channels.

Where’s the Android tie-in?

unnamedAfter all of the heavy lifting was done (really, it’s quite simple) with the physical remote, I installed the mobile application on my Android phone. Now, my handset is able to do the same things as the remote control itself.

At $349 the Harmony Ultimate might be a bit expensive for most users to consider, but I would definitely recommend this or something similar from Logitech. For someone who has multiple remote controls in the house — who doesn’t– I would say this is a must-consider device. As an added bonus, the remote can even control your Philips Hue light bulbs, creating the perfect ambiance and lighting. Again, not for everyone. Keep an eye on Amazon to see if the price dips or if there are any promotions.

I have used Logitech devices like this in the past and have always been impressed with the overall quality. I’m a fan of the keyboards, mice, webcams, and other electronic gizmos and have no qualms about recommending the Logitech Harmony Ultimate. As is the case with products like Sonos, it’s one of those “you can definitely appreciate it once you own it”.

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What’s in the box:

  • Remote control (with rechargeable battery)
  • Harmony Hub
  • 2 IR mini blasters
  • Charging station
  • USB cable
  • 2 AC adapters
  • User documentation

What we liked:

  • Comfortable, ergonomic design
  • Android (and iOS) app flexibility
  • Controls up to 15 devices
  • Responsive display with multiple screen options, buttons
  • Set it and forget it!

Room for improvement:

  • Would like a downloadable app for install – do not require internet connection for setup
  • Price will prohibit most from buying
  • Battery life in remote could be better

Amazon

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