The Logitech Harmony Smart Control universal remote is a refreshing addition to the universal remote family. In a world where many devices have  embraced wireless technologies like bluetooth and WiFi, most AV equipment still cling to decades old Infra Red Technology to transmit wireless signals. The forward thinking Logitech Harmony Smart Control uses RF (Radio Frequencies) to transmit signals. If you think this means it can’t control IR equipment, you’d be wrong. The included “hub” translates the RF signals to Infra Red, so that IR only devices can understand the wireless commands. Like all of Logitech’s lines of universal remotes you can expect to have quite a bit of time invested into the initial set-up of the remote. However, once you get it configured, you’ll like the results.

Logitech Harmony Smart Control

Logitech Harmony Smart Control Hub & Remote

Pull the Harmony Smart Control out of the box and you’ll be greeted by a sleek, ergonomic and modern design. The “hub” which comes packaged with the remote is small and relatively unobtrusive. It’s slender rounded frame means you can place it in a variety of places in your entertainment center. The hub acts like an IR blaster which allows it to blast IR signals to your various equipment. In our tests, the hub is very capable. No matter where we placed it in our room it still managed to control all of our A/V equipment. If for some reason you find that the IR signal isn’t reaching your components, the hub has two ports on the back that allow for the attachment of separate wired IR blasters. The hub is also capable of sending bluetooth signals which means PS3 owners can use the Harmony Smart Control without the need to purchase add-on adapters.

 

The Harmony Smart Control Remote is smaller then Logitech’s past offerings. It’s shorter, lighter and slimmer. Much of this could be attributed to the fact that it lacks an LCD screen like many of it’s predecessors. Some people may find fault with the button layout. For instance, the media playback controls have been moved up closer to the top of the remote and the number pad is also located higher. Personally, I find the number pad being located higher on the remote to be an improvement over past Logitech devices. I always felt the number pad was located too low on their previous line-up so I believe this slight modification to be a welcomed addition.

Logitech Harmony Smart Control

Setup

Traditional thinking is that the universal remote business is on the verge of being overtaken by smart phones. After all, all you need for your phone to act as a universal remote is an app. Logitech has decided to confront the enemy head-on by creating a smart phone app of it’s own. However, the one problem some may encounter is that the app requires an Android device that’s at least  running Android 2.3.3 or the Apple iPhone 4s or later. This is a small problem, but a problem nonetheless. The phone app overall works very well and has some very nice gesture controls. However, we still found ourselves reaching for the simple remote instead of our phone because it was just more convenient.

 

Programming the remote can be done a couple different ways. In the past, Logitech forced you to program your remote with their provided PC software. However, with the Harmony Smart Control and Harmony Ultimate you can program your remote via a smart phone app. As long as you remember the hardware/software requirements above, programming the remote via this method shouldn’t pose any major hurdles. For those of you who may be lagging behind in the latest phone technology you’ll probably find Logitech’s PC software to be the easiest way to program your remote.

 

No matter which method you decide to use to program the Logitech Harmony Smart Control, be prepared to invest some time in the initial setup. Fortunately, Logitech has a very substantial equipment database so chances are you’ll find your devices. Setup is basically the same as with past Logitech remotes. Once you select your devices you simply tell the Harmony which pieces of equipment are involved with each action such as watching TV.

Logitech Harmony Smart Control In Action

Overall, we liked the simple remote that comes with the Harmony Smart Control but the remote isn’t perfect. The biggest gripe we have with the remote is the fact that it only has 3 activity buttons for music, tv and movies although you can actually assign two activities to each activity button it’s a little cumbersome. The Smart Control remote is capable of controlling up to 8 devices which for most living rooms isn’t a problem, but if you have lots of equipment it could be an issue.

 

The iPhone/Android app overall worked pretty good, however we found ourselves consistantly using the simple remote. The problem with the app is that you continually have to look down at your phone to see what you’re pressing. Also, since touch screens are so sensitive, the slightest touch can activate the wrong button. This problem isn’t only relegated to Logitech’s app, but this has been the case with nearly every remote control app. The app also froze on a couple occasions although overall it was fairly stable.

 

The simple remote was far more useful than the app. Each of the buttons has a very distinct shape and feel which means you can navigate the controls even in the dark. The hub worked great for us. One of our gripes with past Harmony remotes was that you had to continually point it at the devices you were trying to control. The hub virtually eliminates this which makes controlling your devices that much easier.

 

Conclusion

The Harmony Smart Control is a fantastic little device. The hub and the simple remote worked far better than we ever anticipated. The app while intuitive and functional lacks the tactile feel that’s required when using a remote control. Our biggest gripe with the simple remote is that it only controls 8 devices and there are only 3 activity buttons. For someone with a large home theater this could be an issue.  Despite these few misgivings, the Harmony Smart Control is a great addition to Logitech’s universal remote line-up.

Logitech Harmony Smart Control with Smartphone App and Simple All In One Remote – Black

Price: $100.88

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