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Lifewire / Yoona Wagener
Supports up to 15 devices
Compatible with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant
No line-of-sight access necessary
Crisp color touchscreen
Steep learning curve
The Logitech Harmony Elite lives up to its name as a premiere smart remote, but it comes at a high price and with a steep learning curve.
Shopping for a universal remote may not seem like the most compelling task, but the Logitech Harmony Elite is an all-in-one remote that could change your mind. Seen as Logitech’s flagship smart remote, this high-end option can control 15 entertainment and home devices like streamers and smart light bulbs through the remote itself or via a smartphone app or voice assistants.
We spent some time reviewing the Logitech Harmony Elite’s ability to support streaming devices, handle voice commands, and provide consistent performance.
The Logitech Harmony Elite comes with quite the array of equipment. The remote itself features a 2.4-inch LCD display that’s bright, crisp, and responsive to swiping and tapping. It’s ideal for quickly accessing and launching activities and is comfortably ergonomic. Another helpful touch is the backlighting of all physical buttons, which can be helpful in low-light conditions.
When not in use, the remote is meant to sit in the provided charging cradle. This serves the dual purpose of ensuring your remote is powered up at all times and provides an orderly and attractive way to stow the device. Both the remote and cradle are made of reflective materials with a high and eye-pleasing shine factor, but they’re also easy to smudge with fingerprints.
The Harmony Hub is the other critical component in the setup. It’s a glossy squarish device that measures 4.07 x 4.91 x 1.05 inches and weighs 3.95 ounces. It’s sleek and small enough to place right near your television, which is a good spot for it if your other AV equipment is also nearby. But thanks to the hub’s use of RF signals to communicate with the remote and other devices through IR, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth, it’s not critical to keep all your other devices in plain sight to use the Harmony Elite. There are two additional mini-infrared blasters for extended coverage in case of connectivity issues.
Setting up the Harmony Elite is not necessarily a simple 10-minute process, but the setup time will probably depend on your comfort level with Logitech products as well as the number of devices and kinds of commands you’re programming.
The basic steps of connecting the hub to your MyHarmony account aren’t involved. Charging the remote fully is the first step, which took about an hour out of the box. Once it was ready to go, we moved on to getting the Harmony Hub up and running.
There’s really no ceiling to what you can program the Harmony Elite to do (there’s no activity limit) if you’re patient enough.
We already had the Harmony App downloaded on our iPhone, so we simply plugged in the Harmony Hub and waited a bit until we saw the red light indicating that it was ready to be connected. When we spun up the app, we hoped we’d be able to quickly see and connect to the hub, but that’s not quite how things went. The app detected the hub but couldn’t connect. It just kept spinning and indicated that it was connecting, but never did. It then looped through prompts to “Connect to new hub” or “Set up new hub” and repeated the same cycle.
After restarting the hub several times, we finally saw a prompt to enter network information and move forward with setting up the remote, but this took about 30 minutes to successfully complete. We opted to copy settings from another saved Harmony remote to cut down on some of the manual input, but this also didn’t work the first time. After a second attempt, carrying over saved activities and devices worked, but testing the device functions was not entirely successful.
And this is the part of the setup process that bleeds over into getting the remote to a fully customized state, which can take a considerable amount of time. Whenever we made a change, the remote had to sync first and sometimes the changes weren’t successful, so there was a good deal of trial and error involved. But the automatic syncing was a pleasantly helpful feature that saved us one extra step.
Once we cleared the initial connectivity and setup hurdles, we experienced generally fast and responsive performance from the Harmony Elite. While we occasionally noticed some slight lag, it was never a significant issue. The touchscreen was receptive to swiping and touch actions, simple to navigate, and the gesture controls were also easy to use and effective.
This extends to the mobile app’s remote features as well, which sometimes felt superfluous given the comfort and usability of the touchscreen on the remote itself. Still, it’s a nice alternative to have if the remote’s battery is too low to use, which we noticed can happen after a couple of days if you leave it out of the charging cradle.
Once we cleared the initial connectivity and setup hurdles, we experienced generally fast and responsive performance from the Harmony Elite.
We tested the Alexa functionality with a Fire TV Cube by following the manufacturer’s Harmony/Alexa integration directions, but the recommended Harmony skill didn’t work. The Harmony - Secondary Hub was much more effective and worked relatively seamlessly by allowing us to ask Alexa to make requests to our Harmony Elite. Not all commands worked and sometimes Alexa told us directly that she didn’t understand a command. Other times, however, she provided no feedback and nothing happened. We also noticed the the suggested prompts differed from the language that actually worked to successfully start an activity through Alexa.
There’s really no ceiling to what you can program the Harmony Elite to do (there’s no activity limit) if you’re patient enough and take care to first properly set up all your devices. But the road toward a fully customized remote involves some significant setup time. Over the several days we spent with this remote we did not feel we had completely set up the device to its full potential.
The Logitech Harmony Elite is not cheap. It retails for $350, which is significantly more than other hub-based smart remotes from the brand. Although the Harmony Elite does feature a robust and capable touchscreen, the Harmony 950 sells for $250 and is essentially the same remote minus the Harmony Hub. If you were to purchase the Hub, the price would essentially even out since it costs $100. Those who have an extensive home entertainment and device setup would probably just find it most convenient to purchase the Harmony Elite as opposed to making two separate purchases, though if you don’t have the need for smart-home capability you could always opt for the Harmony 950 and add a hub later.
If you’re interested in a sophisticated universal remote, but you’d like less remote overall, the SevenHugs Smart Remote is a compelling alternative to the Harmony Elite. It’s much smaller at just a little over 2 ounces and 5.4 inches tall, and instead of a hub and smartphone app, the SevenHugs remote uses sensors to create what the company calls “a digital map” of the devices in a particular room. The remote intelligently picks up on what you’re pointing at and allows you to enact scenes that include multi-step commands such as dimming the lights and turning on Netflix. The manufacturer says it’s compatible with over 650,000 devices from streamers to thermostats, outlets, and lights, and there’s no limit to how many devices it can control. It does lack voice assistant support or the ability to control devices beyond a single room, however.
Curious about other options? Head to our roundup of recommended universal remotes to see what else is available.
A top-tier option for the home device gearhead.
The Logitech Harmony Elite is a high-end universal remote that’s equipped to automate your smart home. If you’re enthusiastic about diving into the nitty gritty of programming every detail and have an extensive equipment setup that includes smart-home devices like smart air conditioners or smart plugs, this may be the ideal device to add to the mix. Those looking for a slightly cheaper and less involved option might consider another Logitech remote that scales back on both.
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