Harmony Elite Review: The Best Universal Remote Gets Better

I have been using Logitech Harmony remotes since before Logitech acquired the Harmony Remote Control company. Each time the company came out with a new model, I would buy it and upgrade my main family room remote then migrate the previous generation Harmony remote to other rooms in the house. But until recently, I had stuck with the last generation model, the Ultimate. With a name like Ultimate, I really didn't expect that the new model could be much better. Then Logitech sent me the newer Harmony Elite ($349.99)

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Of course, the Harmony Elite is indeed an improvement. In fact, it's also a lot like an iPhone but with mechanical buttons. That's important for changing volume, channels, etc., by touch without looking. But the touchscreen part also has touch-sensitive haptic feedback like a smartphone. That means it vibrates when certain tasks are performed. As with the previous model, the remote, along with the RF-based hub, can control almost any kind of electronics gear using the built-in IR emitter and included IR extenders. You can create activities that turn on or off devices and set inputs to the proper channels. Recently they added support for voice control, through integration with Alexa. My family loves being able to shout "Alexa, turn on the TV!"

Logitech has also made enhancements to the companion phone app. Previously you had to use a computer to program the remote and physically sync it to the computer. Now, the app is all you need and the syncing is done wirelessly. It's pretty powerful and relatively easy, but you do lose some of the fine tuning I previously enjoyed. For example, I use an Epson projector as my TV, and sometimes I used to have to send extra delays and programmatically resend input commands. That isn't possible any more. The result is I would sometimes have to use the remote's built-in "Help" feature to ensure the proper input command was received. It was just something I lived with. But with the newer gear, it's a lot more reliable.

If I had a wish list for the next generation it would be to charge via Qi wireless charging, just like the latest smartphones. Then I could just set it down on my nightstand or coffee table, with a Qi charging mat, instead of having to carefully place it in the dock. I find that the overly sensitive touch screen sometimes turns on my devices when I'm just placing it in the charging cradle.

Pros

  • Controls almost any kind of electronics gear.
  • Alexa integration.
  • Touchscreen with haptic feedback.
  • Enhanced smartphone app.
  • RF hub with IR emitters.

Cons

  • Expensive, but often discounted.
  • Touchscreen a bit too sensitive.
  • Charges via a proprietary dock, not wireless charging.
  • Lack of numeric buttons.

Final Verdict

The Logitech Harmony Elite is arguably the best remote available, so it is understandably expensive but you can often find it discounted at Logitech.com or BestBuy, etc.

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Todd Bernhard's picture

Todd Bernhard is a bestselling (6+ million downloads) award-winning (AARP, About.com, BestAppEver.com, Digital Hollywood, and Verizon) developer and founder of NoTie.NET, an app developer specializing in Talking Ringtone apps including AutoRingtone. And his profile photo is of the last known sighting of Mr. Bernhard wearing a tie, circa 2007!

An iPhone is almost always attached to his hip or in his pocket, but over the years, Mr. Bernhard has owned an Apple Newton, a Motorola Marco, an HP 95LX, a Compaq iPaq, a Palm Treo, and a Nokia e62. In addition to writing for iPhone Life, Mr. Bernhard has written for its sister publications, PocketPC Magazine and The HP Palmtop Paper.