The Logitech Harmony Smart Control Remote system turns your smartphone into a full-fledged Harmony Remote capable of controlling all of your home theater and stereo devices.
If you’ve never used a Harmony remote, they are the industry standard for high-quality Universal Remotes. They can completely eliminate a stack of remotes and make all of your mismatched brands of audio and video gear work seamlessly. With this latest product, they’re moving the Logitech remote brains onto your smartphone through an app that eliminating the need to use a PC to configure the remote.
How it Works
The Harmony Smart Control product comes with a little hub that can sit on or in your TV cabinet, or even across the room. The hub attaches to your home WiFi network and speaks to your phone via WiFi. The Harmony Hub takes the commands from your phone and then translates them into infra-red remote control commands to your different home theater gear. The hub also speaks Bluetooth in case you have devices that can only be controlled with Bluetooth (for example, playing DVDs on an Xbox 360).
Download the Harmony App onto your Apple iOS or Android device and then configure the remote and setup the activities directly from the mobile device. I say mobile device because you could use your iPhone or Android phone, but you could also use an iPod touch, iPad, or an Android tablet.
During setup, it asks you the make and model of your TV, cable box, DVD player, gaming systems, and stereo receiver. It then asks you very simple questions like “What device controls the volume?” and “What input does the TV need to be on in order to watch a DVD?” After you answer the questions, the remote programs everything for you.
Using the Harmony Smart Control Remote
With Harmony products, you push a single button for an activity, like “Watch TV”. This turns on your TV, DVR/cable box home theater receiver, and seta the correct input on the TV. It remembers which devices are already turned on and which ones are turned off, so if you decide to watch a DVD later, it knows to leave the TV on, switch the input, turn the cable box off, and turn the DVD player on.
Everything described above is “basic Harmony Remote” capabilities. With the mobile app used as your remote, there’s even more flexibility that includes:
- Customizing the remote control button layouts
- Re-arranging the functions as you wish
- Using gestures to operate the remote,
- Assigning buttons for your favorite TV channels
- Assigning gestures to different remote functions like “swipe left” to rewind, or “double-tap” to pause
When first hearing about this product, it occurred to me: I have a family. What if I take a call while watching TV and leave the room? Does that mean the family can’t watch TV while I’m gone? What if the kids are home with a babysitter and I take my phone out to dinner? And most importantly, what if you watch TV at night and your smartphone needs to be charged?
Logitech already thought of all of these scenarios. The kit comes with a small and elegant physical remote that can also be used. This remote doesn’t have quite as many buttons as a typical stand-alone Harmony remote and it doesn’t have an LCD screen but for daily operation of most tasks, it works great.
This small remote isn’t an afterthought either. Its elegantly designed with curved edges, smooth lines, and a grippy back-side. It’s easy to hold in your hand and use. The basic design is that of a normal remote so it won’t scare your technology-ignorant house guests. The stand-alone remote is also something you’d be willing to let the kids use so they don’t spill juice on your iPhone or drop it off the side of the couch.
The combination of the smartphone app + the stand-alone basic remote is a full featured package that provides more additional features than the stand-alone remotes. You really can’t go wrong with any Harmony product and with the PC-free setup on your smartphone while sitting on the couch, setup is a breeze.
The Logitech Harmony Smart Control Remote retails for $129 and is currently available from Amazon for $99.99.
Logitech Harmony Smart Control Remote was provided for review purposes and all opinions are my own. No compensation was received but Amazon Affiliate links included in this post. Images courtesy of Logitech.