Price (RRP): $449.95
Logitech’s Harmony Elite remote control has solved the age-old problem of remote controls breeding like rabbits. You know, one for the TV, one for the DVD and or 4K blue-ray player, one for the Telstra Roku box, one for Foxtel IQ2 or 3, one for the home theatre amplifier or sound bar, Xbox or PlayStation, and one for a media streaming device like a PC or Mac.
Multiple remotes are the bane of my life. In total, just five remotes can have over 40,000 possible combinations of button presses. My wife frequently says (acerbically) “Why can’t we have just one remote?” or “Write down specific button press instructions”.
The answer – Logitech’s Harmony Elite
The answer is Logitech’s Harmony Elite. It is a universal home control comprising yet another remote control (to rule them all – up to 15 at a time) and a hub (essentially an infra-red and Wi-Fi controller) and smartphone app. While the A$449.95 price may put off some consider that the value of the connected equipment may be worth many thousands – it is a small price to pay for peace!
The power of the Harmony Elite is not initially obvious until you realise it is connected to the Logitech cloud (you need an internet connection and Wi-Fi router) that contains over 270,000 (and constantly growing) entertainment and smart home devices (6000+ brands) so you can enjoy single-touch control with your favourite brands, right out of the box. From TV and cable boxes to disc players and gaming consoles to AV receivers and streaming media players—plus smart lights, locks, thermostats, and more—Harmony Elite proudly works with just about everything.
If you don’t believe me click on the link here https://support.myharmony.com/en-au/compatibility and search for your device – it is very comprehensive and if it is not there it can learn from the device’s remote.
Setup – simple yet can be complex if you don’t read the manual
First – what is in the box?
- Harmony Elite remote (with replaceable rechargeable battery) – this is the single remote
- Charging station for the remote – make sure you have an AC power outlet close by
- Harmony Hub – this is to control the devices and is placed near them. It has a pretty good Infrared range but if devices are inside a media cabinet the range can be extended. It also uses Bluetooth and Wi-Fi for control.
- 2 IR mini-blasters for range extension
- Micro-USB to USB-A cable (used for computer setup)
- 2 AC adapters
A word of advice before you start. If you have multiple devices, say connected to a home theatre amplifier or a TV/Sound Bar’s HDMI inputs make sure these are all working properly first.
Setup is easier using an Android smartphone or an iPhone 5 or later or you can use Windows or Mac desktop versions and the USB cable to connect to the Harmony. Download the app, pair the remote to the hub via Bluetooth, create a Logitech Account, and add devices. It detects all devices on the home network (wired or Wi-Fi). It even found a $40 Dgtec DVD player from Kmart – I was impressed. If it does not detect a device, it means it is not on the home network (older devices don’t have Wi-Fi or Ethernet connections) and you can search by brand and model.
The remote then shows all the devices and you can have fun testing if it switches them on or off, recognises channels, volume etc. Save yourself time and take it from me – if it recognises them it will work.
Once you have devices you can set up activities – this is what you want it to do when turning on multiple devices to say watch TV.
In my case, it must turn on the TV, Foxtel IQ3, and a Pioneer AV receiver. It has to select HDMI 1 input on the TV, Video 1 HDMI input on the Pioneer and optionally a starting channel on the Foxtel.
It is pretty much the same for the Free to Air TV tuner (in the TV), DVD, Telstra/Roku and media PC – just need to set up the HDMI inputs on the Pioneer. Yes, it is simple.
After that you can setup up to 50 favourite channels, modify what the remote buttons do (I did not venture there as they worked just fine). I am learning to use gestures (swipe/tap on the Harmony remote screen) to make it even faster to use.
One thing – you will need to discipline yourself to placing the remote back in the cradle as battery life is around two to three days. Charge time for the replaceable battery is around 1 hour.
Or use the Harmony app on your smartphone as a remote. It supports Alexa and Google Assistant on these – no Siri yet.
But wait there is more!
While I have explored TV/AV use it will also control Wi-Fi/Bluetooth enabled devices like blinds, lights, locks, thermostats and more. It also supports IFTTT – if this then that – https://ifttt.com/about to set up triggers and corresponding actions.
For example, if a motion detector sees activity in Zone 1 then turn the lights on there and send an email alert. Or on Christmas Eve turn off the motion detectors to allow Santa in!
It also supports SmartThingsSM, INSTEON, Nest, EcoBee, and more smart platforms (not Apple HomeKit yet but there is a Logitech POP button workaround) – Logitech is constantly adding features and support for various smartphone voice assistants is on the cards.
There is a tutorial here https://support.myharmony.com/en-au/elite that shows the simplicity of setup. If you get stuck there is also a Help feature that will guide you through any setup issues.
If the $449.95 price scares you then consider fewer featured remotes like the Harmony 350 at $49.95 (no hub needed), Harmony 650 at $90.95 (no hub) or Harmony Companion At $249.95 (with hub). These still access the Harmony cloud for all those devices but have less functionality.
- Simple set up if everything is working fine first (Wi-Fi, devices etc)
- Comprehensive help and support site
- Not just for AV devices
- The Hub is necessary for setting up complex AV systems
- Good app does everything
- Amazingly comprehensive database of entertainment and IoT devices
- Easy to set up but may confuse some – get a techy type to help
- Use the IR blasters to control devices placed in a medias cupboard
- You may not need the top model if all you have is a basic setup
- Some smart devices (not AV) may require a separate Hub extender
Harmony remotes are time proven and like everything Logitech, they are superb quality and long lasting.
Now my wife has used this review device I am obliged to purchase one – I would have to prise it from her cold, dead, hands otherwise.
Overall: 4.4 out of 5
Features: 5 out of 5 – is there anything it cannot do?
Value for money – 4 out of 5 – only because there are cheaper Logitech models that do almost as much in the home theatre, not smart home, arena.
Performance: 4 out of 5 – setup and getting the IR blasters positioned correctly can be a little tricky.
Ease of Use: 4 out of 5 – to be fair it is foolproof but you need to follow the instructions.
Design: 5 out of 5 – all Logitech products are beautifully designed and made.
PS: Shop around and you will be pleasantly surprised with discounts of up to 30%. Beware of grey market or parallel imports that may not have local warranty or support.