Logitech Harmony Home Control Review
THE VERDICT
Simply put, the Logitech Harmony Home Control remote is one the best universal remote I've ever used. It's not perfect, but once you get it synced with your system and hold it in your hand nothing really compares.

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Design9.5
Value9
Ease of Use8.5
Performance10
The Good
  • The Harmony Home Control is incredibly versatile. Logitech's huge archive of electronic components means it can control nearly any device. The app and desktop software make it easy to add new devices and activities. Great for aspiring smart homes.
The Bad
  • The app can be buggy at times which can make the initial setup a little difficult.
9.3Overall Score

Logitech’s been the leader in the universal remote business for over a decade. With the advent of smart phones many predicted that the days of the universal remote were numbered. Evidently, Logitech didn’t get the memo since the Home Control happens to be one of the best universal remotes on the market.

 

I currently have a Logitech 650 Harmony remote controlling our living room TV, cable box, blu-ray player and sound stand. The 650 has worked great the past few years and both my wife and I have enjoyed the way it’s simplified our remote control situation. When I took the Logitech Harmony Home Control remote home and handed it to her, she immediately commented about how nice the remote feels. It wasn’t long before the 650 was kicked to the curb and the Home Control took over its living room duties.

 

Logitech Harmony Home Control Remote

The remote is shorter and thinner than some of Logitech’s older remotes. The slightly curved body of the Home Control is made of soft plastic. The back of the remote has a pebble-like texture which makes the remote easy to grip. Ergonomically, this remote just feels right in your hand. The remote I had for review was the white version, but if white is too stark for you, it’s also available in black.

 

The buttons are placed better on the Home Control. On my old 650 I always felt that the number pad was too low on the remote forcing me to either re-position my hand or really stretch to reach the buttons. While I do like the button placement, I wish the number pad buttons were just a tad bigger. Also, a backlight would help when using the remote in a dimly lit or dark room.

Logitech Home Control Review

Near the top of the remote sets a row of buttons which are hardwired to control home automation features – two LED light buttons,  +/- buttons, and two outlet buttons. Unlike other buttons on the remote, you can’t re-assign these so they’ll go unused if you don’t have any home automation gadgets. In my case I do have a set of Philips Hue Lights in the living room so the buttons weren’t wasted in my setup.

 

Above the automation buttons are three activity buttons which are labeled as music, tv, and movie. The remote can be programmed to handle eight devices in total. You can assign six activities to these three buttons. A short press activates one activity while a long button press initiates a secondary activity.

 

Setup

The Logitech Harmony Home Control consists of four basic items – the remote, the Harmony Home Hub, an IR-mini blaster and the app that you can install on iOS or Android devices. The Hub is the heart of the entire system. It stores your setup info, grabs software updates and of course acts as the glue that links the remote to your equipment. The Hub uses IR, Bluetooth and WiFi to control devices. In our living room, I have a PS3, which we still use for our main Blu-ray player, a Zvox 580 sound bar, a Sony 42-inch LCD TV and a Verizon Fios cable box.

 

Setting up the Logitech Home Control ranged from frustrating to easy in a span of about 20 minutes. Configuring the system can be done through the Harmony Home Control app, but this is where I ran into a couple hiccups. Getting the Hub on the WiFi network was easy, however once it’s networked it needs to touch base with Logitech’s servers and this is where the frustrating part kicks in. During the initial setup, the app repeatedly locked up when trying to connect to Logitech’s servers. On the 4th or 5th try it managed to break through and connect.

 

If you do a little digging online, this appears to be a common occurrence. As a result, Logitech recommends downloading and installing the Harmony software on a computer and doing the setup that way if necessary. I didn’t have to go this route, but I downloaded the desktop software anyway and did a test run. Truthfully, I found the Myharmony desktop software to be more intuitive than the phone/tablet app and if I had a choice I’d probably prefer to use that over the app.

Logitech Harmony Hub

Logitech Harmony Hub

If you’re starting from scratch you’ll need to tell the remote each component in your setup. I have yet to find a device that the Logitech remotes can’t control. I’m sure they exist, but I just haven’t come across any yet. Once you identify each piece of equipment you’ll need to tell the remote the order to turn each component on.

 

For instance, for watching TV in my configuration, the remote knew to turn on the Fios Cable Box, Zvox sound stand, and Sony TV. For watching a movie or playing a game, it new to turn on the PS3 and turn off the cable box. Out of all of the components, the PS3 turned out to be the trickiest to setup since the remote needed to control it via bluetooth. This required me to pair the PS3 with the remote in order for it to take control of the Sony game console. If you already have a Logitech remote the setup process is surprisingly simple. Just login to your Logitech account and copy the settings over to your new remote and your basically done.

 

Day to Day Use

The Harmony Home Control has easily supplanted my Harmony 650 in the living room. The range on the remote is outstanding. As a test, I went down a flight of stairs, into another room and shut the door and I was still able to control our entertainment system. If you want to hide your equipment inside a cabinet you shouldn’t have any problems.

 

As I mentioned earlier, I do have a set of Philips Hue light bulbs.  Getting the the Logitech Harmony Home Control remote to work with the lights was a cinch. As soon as the hub was on the network it automatically searched for any home automation systems. I was able to link my Philip Hues lights to the pre-set LED bulb button. On/off and dimming functions all worked. Adding the Philips Hues lights to the “Watch Movie” activity only took a few seconds. By pressing the movie button, the remote knew to dim the lights in the living room after I added it to the activity.

 

The Home Control app works well, but I have to say that I prefer the remote over the app. It may just be me, but I need the tactile sensation you get with buttons.  With the app, I found myself constantly looking at the screen to find the right selection.

 

Functionally, the app is solid. All of the functions of the standard remote are here so if you happen to misplace the remote, the app works just as well. The app is also handy if you need to tweak any of the device settings or add new equipment. The app did lock-up on me once, but overall it was just as responsive and reliable as the remote. As long as you have a WiFi connection or access to a cellular network you can even remotely control your entire Home Control system from a different location.

 

To me, the remote control functions of the app take a back seat to its ability to customize the settings of the Home Control ecosystem. The app controls basically every aspect. Adding devices, modifying activities, customizing buttons, and adding favorites can all be done via the app. If you’re experimenting with home automation, Logitech’s been steadily adding to its repertoire and there’s even rumors of more integration with Amazon’s Echo in the near future.

 

The Verdict

The Logitech Harmony Home Control remote is one of the best remote I’ve used.  There are cheaper alternatives around, but none that give you this much control at this price. The software can be a little frustrating at times, but once you get it synced with your entertainment system, it’s worth it.

 


Where to Buy:

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