After some recent frustration with confusing TV inputs and multiple remotes, it was time to upgrade to a nice universal controller.
I’ve used a Logitech universal remote from years at home, and decided the b2cloud office needed one as well. I found a great deal on the Logitech Harmony Ultimate remote, which also has a useful Android and iOS app as well.
The design of the remote itself is fantastic. It ditches many of the regular buttons from a normal remote and just sticks with the basics. The main feature is a surprisingly responsive central touchscreen which is used to control most activities and devices on your system. You can also use gestures like swipe and pinch, much like you would on your smartphone. It means there’s practically no learning curve for a first-time user, and you’ll find it much easier to use than a regular cumbersome remote.
The system comes with a small hub that must be powered and sits in front of your TV cabinet. It is a little annoying aesthetically to have another device sitting in front of your TV and does add a little clutter to your set up, but it serves a great purpose and is quite intelligent. The hub not only receives the IR signal from the remote and sends it to all your devices (TV, Apple TV, BluRay etc) to control them, it also has bluetooth and WiFi built in. This means you can control your gaming consoles through the remote, a handy little feature. Also during the set-up stage, you can connect your Harmony system to your WiFi network, which great extends the range of where you can use your remote, as well as enabling you to use the handy Harmony mobile apps to control your system.
Logitech has an accompanying app for both Android and iOS, and they work really, really well. It kind of makes the remote itself redundant, or perhaps just a nice backup. Users with new Android devices like the Galaxy S5 and HTC One M8 have built in Infrared (IR) so you can already control your TV from the phone itself. The Logitech setup adds another level of intelligence, and helps make things more like a smart connected home. If you have a Philips Hue, for example, you can set up on through the app programmed features, so when you turn on your TV, for example, your Hue lights will automatically dim to a predefined level. Pretty cool. It’s also super quick and responsive, and using the up/down gestures to change volume is even easier than using a volume button.
Is it worth the investment?
The Harmony Ultimate set-up is pretty pricy – I was able to get one for around $250. It does make life a bunch easier though if you don’t already have a Universal Remote, to save you from fiddling around with changing TV inputs every time you want to connect your laptop the a screen, or share something on your Apple TV via AirPlay, for example. What you are really paying for is convenience, and in my view I always pay a premium for this if it’s a beautiful product to use.