If you spend a lot of time in the living room with a lot of entertainment devices, the Logitech Harmony system is a worthy investment.
I once owned a universal remote that I’m pretty sure was the size of a shoebox. That’s how I remember it, anyway — a definite two-hander with a large screen (for the time) and very few physical buttons. Something like this.
It was awful. Awful setup and not much better to use. But it still was better than needing to have three remotes by my side at any given time.
Fast forward some 15 years (I can’t believe it’s been that long) and we get to what I have today. Last fall I splurged on new Harmony remotes from Logitech, and they’re probably one of the more important purchases I’ve made. They work, they work well, and they were pretty simply to set up.
Here’s the gist of the whole Harmony thing: It’s first and foremost a universal remote. But gone are the days of looking up codes and hoping the remote would support your device. Also gone are the days of connecting the remote to a computer to sync things up.
These work with (require, actually) the Harmony app on Android or on iOS. You set up the remotes through the apps, they sync over Wi-Fi, then you go about your business.
First you add your devices (either manually or auto-detected over Wi-Fi), and then you use those devices to fill out “activities”, like “Watch TV”, or “Play Xbox”. Harmony does a good job recommending activities, or you can start from scratch. It’s highly flexible, highly customizable, and pretty much just works. My only real complaint is that it can be a little slow to sync, but it’s not like you have to do that too often.
As with everything else these days, Harmony works with Amazon Alexa and Google Home, as well as with Philips Hue and other connected devices.
And with that, on to the goodies.
In the bedroom: Logitech Harmony Companion
I’m dead serious when I think the best-designed device in my home is this remote. We talk about curvy phones all the time now, but my wife catches me fondling this remote all the time and gives me a good dirty look for it. It’s that good.
good, and the Companion nails that benchmark.
Beyond that, it’s a fairly standard remote. It’s got buttons — lots of them — a non-rechargeable CR2032 battery, and that’s it. No newfangled touchscreens. It’s easy to learn where things are by feel, which is another must-have in any remote. (And why I refuse to use phone-based remotes except for in a pinch — or when I want to lower the volume on whatever my kids are watching without getting yelled at.)
The real bonus in the bedroom with the Companion is the addition of the home control buttons. They look like