Harmony Logitech Remote controls
Having experimented with several solutions, I can highly recommend the Harmony Logitech remote controls, especially when complemented with the Harmony Hub.
The Harmony Hub
The key component of the solution is the Harmony 'Smart Hub' that not only allows for a seamless installation procedure, but also allows for future updates and IP-based controls such as Philips Hue or Lifx LED lighting systems. The hub allows you to start doing whatever you want to do with a single button click that will automatically configure all your devices and even your home to the best settings.
- the hub itself is an IR emitter, but it also includes 2 additional IR-extenders that plug into the hub itself (about 2m cable length) so it can pilot devices that our behind walls or cabinets.
- it also serves as the central configuration unit, supporting more then just Infrared (IR) commands, and also as smartphone app/cloud service gateway. The hub can also integrate with smart lighting (such as LifX) and can be piloted via Smart Home products such as Google Hub or Amazon Alexa.
Although not the cheapest solution, I think the Harmony Ultimate and Elite are the most user friendly solutions out on the market. The installation process worked like a charm using only the Harmony smartphone app that automatically recognised the Hub, registered it on my home Wifi network, automatically updated the hub and remote, and then started the device enrollment process in a very user friendly way.
- The Harmony solutions not only replace your physical remote controls, but they also offer 'smart automation'. Using the 'activity' concept, you actually teach the remote which devices to activate for a specific action. This means when you push 'watch tv', the control will
- not only just activate your tv
- but will also select the right input channel for your settop box
- will activate that one as well
- and might also control a connected soundbar or other HiFi setup, which means that if you press the volume button, it will not direct the TV, but the correct device
- The Harmony uses a cloud based configuration platform that can be accessed via the pc or smartphone application
- that holds the IR codes of thousands of devices so you don't need to learn your remote each individual key using they original remote, but you can actually just select your device and start using it right away. That can come in handy for instance if the original remote is no longer working or available.
- when you define your devices and activities, they will be stored online, so whenever you need to change the configuration, you can start from your previous configuration and do not need to start over.
- this also means that if your remote breaks down, you can easily get a new one and download your previous settings
Harmony Elite versus Ultimate
Both products seem very alike, and even prices can vary heavily based on promotions and other actions. At first view, the only relevant difference between is the physical remote's key layout, which actually is all about personal taste.
Looking at the Harmony App, it corresponds more with the Harmony Elite's colors and style, while the Ultimate remote has a style corresponding more to the older Harmony remotes. Nevertheless, if your packagage contains the Hub (which i stronly advise), you should be able to do exactly the same with either solutions.