I bought the Logitech Harmony Home Control recently from Amazon for US$99. It is a universal remote that controls home devices via IR or Bluetooth so I just have to meddle with one instead of multiple remote controllers.
I considered this an upgrade to the AR XSight Touch that I was using previously until Ariel spoilt it after dropping (onto the floor) numerous time. With the Logitech Harmony Home Control, I no longer have to point my universal remote controller at the device (that I wish to control) as the IR signal are blasted (in all directions) from the Harmony-Hub and it’s connected Harmony IR Mini Blasters. We no longer have to find the remote controller (if Ariel decides to hide it) as my smart phone double up as remote controller by using the Logitech Harmony App on the App Store.
The Logitech Harmony Home Control
For the package wise, it comes with the following:
- Harmony Hub
- Harmony Companion Remote
- Mini IR Blaster
- Micro-USB power adapter
- Micro-USB cable
Setting up the Logitech Harmony Hub
You will need to use a smart phone to set up the Logitech Harmony Hub. After installing the Logitech Harmony app from App Store, it guides you through the initial set up of the Harmony Hub and setting up of your first device (e.g. TV, Receiver box). The whole setting up process requires Internet for the Harmony Hub to contact the Harmony Servers. The whole process took me about 10 minutes.
I easily added devices like my Sony TV, KDK fan, LG Hom-Bot by searching for the manufacturer and model. However, it didn’t have the IR codes for my less mainstream China-made HD DVB-T2 Receiver. Luckily, it is able to learn IR codes from existing remote controller. And no, you do not have to press every button on the remote controller. The Logitech system figured out that for the device I am adding, it will just need to know 3 buttons – Power, 1 and Channel Up. And so, I followed the instructions and let the Harmony Hub learn the IR codes by pressing the buttons while pointing the remote controller at the top face of the Harmony Hub. Amazing thing, it managed to guess the IR codes for the remaining buttons!
The process of adding new devices takes a while as the Harmony Hub needs to contact the Harmony Servers (on the Internet). However, it is fast when using it to control your devices, be it from the remote controller or from your smart phone.
Using the Harmony Home Control
I placed the Harmony Hub on the TV console underneath the TV panel. I am actually surprised that the IR signals actually managed to bounce off the walls and ceilings to reach the TV. It effortlessly controlled the TV and the KDK ceiling fan in the living room. However, the signal to the HD DVB-T2 receiver box was spotty as it is placed behind the TV console’s glass doors. That is when the Harmony IR Mini Blasters come in useful. I hooked up the IR Mini Blaster and placed it behind the glass doors. Viola! It works perfectly.
The IR signals even reached my LG Hom-Bot sitting across the living room which is like 5 meters away without line-of-sight. A wall actually sits between the Harmony Hub and LG Hom-Bot so the IR signals actually reflected off the walls to reach it.
I was able to create activities like “Watch Movie” that power on my devices and switching them to the correct settings with just a push of a button. For example, powering on my TV and switching to HDMI 2 input, powering on the ceiling fan and power off the HD DVB-T2 receiver box.
The ability to create activities is great if you need to control multiple devices when you want to do a single task. For example, watching TV requires you to on the TV and switching on the ceiling fan or air-con unit.
However, using smart phones to control your devices need a little time to get used to. The included remote controller is fine but will be great if it comes with LCD to display the created activities. Otherwise, you will need to remember which button is linked to the activities. The remote control for Logitech Harmony Ultimate Home comes with a touch-enabled LCD.
All in all, the Logitech Harmony Home Control is a great universal remote control for most-if-not-all your devices that takes in IR or Bluetooth inputs. It is even sweeter when Amazon have occasional price drop to US$99.