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Review: Harmony Elite & A Smart TV Go Hand In Hand

Over the years I have been across a whole swag of products labelled remotes, there are the expensive remotes that need a specialist dealer to configure and then there the off the shelf models such the Harmony remote sold by Logitech.

Their latest Harmony Elite remote has just got a Google Assist update that allows owners to launch activities and other features from their Harmony hub-based remote. All you have to do is say, “Ok Google”, then simply speak your command.

Voila! You’ll also be able to use eligible Android phones and iPhones to expand the possibilities of voice control.

Want to turn on the TV? No problem, the command is “Ok Google, ask Harmony to turn on my TV”. There are also similar commands for a host of actions including switching to your favourite TV channel, powering on an AV receiver and speaker, and even dimming the lights.

During the past two years as IOT devices have taken off the smart home market has exploded with thermostats, light bulbs, switches and plugs, and many more solutions aimed at automating or controlling the home.

The first Harmony remote was called Easy Zapper, I saw it in a room at a CEDIA show in the USA. It was the just before I launched SmartHouse Magazine.

Over the years I have tested several remotes which prior to the 2015 Harmony Elite were all set up online and one had to retrieve settings via a computer’s USB port.

The latest Elite model introduced the ability to set up the remote with a mobile device app.

As technology has evolved, more devices have entered our living space, and Logitech is still aiming to have everything controlled by a single remote.

Today Logitech is delivering a two-part solution with new smart home devices linking over your home network to a hub that interfaces with the remote.

Logitech has worked to bring many platforms together, and that includes support for Amazon Alexa and Google Home personal assistants, Nest and along with Philips Hue and Samsung Smart things technology.

The Elite has the same soft-touch finish on the bottom, which not only feels great but also keeps the remote from slipping out of your hand.

 

As on previous generations of the device, the front of the remote has a large colour touch screen as well as a number of buttons. There are several very welcome changes, though. The so-called transport buttons (Play/Pause, Fast Forward, Reverse, Record and Stop), which were above the display on the Harmony Ultimate, have been moved to the bottom of the display.

They’re now a lot easier to reach.

There are also a series of new buttons at the bottom that you can program to control connected home devices. A big improvement with this device is that Logitech has made navigating on-screen menus easier they are also much more intuitive and remember functions.

Below the display are two touch-sensitive buttons: Activities and Devices. The former changes the screen to show the activities you have programmed, such as “Watch Foxtel TV” or “Switch On TV.” If you swipe on the screen, you can see your favourite channels.

The Elite still has a micro-USB port — so that you can plug it into your computer to set it up — the entire process can now be handled via an Android or iOS app. That includes fir

 

mware updates, too.

After you download the app and create a free account, you can then create “Activities,” a sequence of commands that will set any number of devices to the correct settings. As with the previous-generation Harmony Ultimate, you can also program activities to include smart home devices such as lighting control.

When you select the Devices button, you’ll see a list of the devices you’ve connected to the remote — such as your TV, Fetch TV box or soundbar this delivers direct control over the devices.

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