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Lifewire / Yoona Wagener
Full-color touchscreen on device
Ability to control 15 total gadgets
Program one-touch activities
Setup can only be done via PC
Changes are very manual and time-intensive
Remote needs to be charged
The Logitech Harmony Ultimate One is a universal remote with a full-color touchscreen for quick access to your favorite AV equipment, but setting it up can be an uphill battle.
There’s only so much room—and patience—for a gaggle of remotes that all control different entertainment devices. The Logitech Harmony Ultimate One offers a clutter-clearing remedy. It can support up to 15 devices and sports helpful extras like programming favorite channels and shortcuts into quick-hit buttons. There’s even a full-color touchscreen. The catch is that getting this remote to a customized and usable state is very manual and requires a fair amount of patience.
We tested the Logitech Harmony Ultimate One to see what the setup process involves as well as its touchscreen functionality and ability to support streaming devices.
The Logitech Harmony Ultimate One remote is relatively small at 2.2 x 7.3 x 1.2 inches. It’s black and shiny with a slight arch in the middle of the body. The bottom half of the remote is much bulkier and bulbous, whereas the top of the device is slim in profile.
In the middle of the remote, there’s a 2.4-inch full-color touchscreen that features favorites and shortcuts to saved activities. It’s generally responsive, as are the buttons on the remote, which don’t sink when pressed. The overall feel in the hand is pleasant. It’s lightweight at only 5.6 ounces, and the rubberized backing is smooth but sturdy. Because of the reflective nature of the device’s face, however, it’s very prone to smudging, as is the charging cradle.
Another design quirk is the placement of the play/pause and other controls that are typically used when listening to music or watching movies. These buttons are at the very top of the remote under the power button, which feels a little unnatural.
Other than the remote and the charging cable, the only other components that come in the box are the power cord for the charging port and a Micro-USB cord for setting up the remote.
It took only about an hour to charge the remote to full, and we then headed over to Logitech’s site to download the remote’s software. This is where we noticed the first inconsistency. There’s currently no option for the Ultimate One on that site, and the manual actually lists two different sites to visit to download the software.
We landed at https://support.myharmony.com/en-us/ultimate-one to download the appropriate desktop software. Once we completed this step, we were required to set up a My Harmony account, something that used to be done through a web app but is now done exclusively through this computer software or through the mobile app on hub-enabled devices.
The bulk of the setup process involves manually mapping every button to a function on the device, which is onerous and takes forever.
What should have been a simple step turned out to be much more involved than necessary. There were several instances where the program lagged or froze altogether, which required us to follow the same steps a second time. Eventually it worked, but these bugs set the tone for the clunky nature of the software.
Once we were in the My Harmony portal and able to start customizing our device, we encountered a third hurdle. The Harmony Ultimate One is capable of supporting up to 15 devices, but each of these devices has to be set up manually. We were prompted to add a television as our first device and we were able to find our model number with little difficulty.
We were less than thrilled to discover that we had to find the model number of any other device we wanted to control, enter what kind of device it is, and then the number and kind of inputs. The bulk of the setup process involves manually mapping every button to a function on the device, which is onerous and takes forever. A final software update then took another five minutes to complete, which happens every time you tweak the remote via PC.
While we had no difficulty setting up a command to launch our Roku Ultra, we were disappointed to discover that there’s no streaming device support for Fire OS or the NVIDIA SHIELD TV Gaming Edition. Both of these platforms require the Harmony Hub, Logitech’s smart hub with voice command and digital assistant support.
The Logitech Harmony Ultimate One remote offers some flexibility for remapping buttons, and it’s straightforward enough to assign an action to a button. But unfortunately, those preferences can only be set in the desktop software.
It’s the biggest drawback of the Harmony Ultimate One. Since there’s no way to interact with the remote through the Harmony mobile app, any time you want to change settings or create an advanced multi-step sequence you have to connect the remote to your computer and make edits through MyHarmony.
You can drag and drop devices on the touchscreen based on your preferences, and it gives you quick access to activities with a tap of the screen.
The software for macOS is also often really slow to load. Even performing a remote sync after we made changes, we noticed that changes didn’t always seem to stick. Or, if we forgot to hit sync, we’d have to hook up the remote to the computer again. Even though the initial setup is heavily manual, so is the experience of customizing and using the device.
One positive aspect of the remote is the responsive touchscreen, which does offer a certain amount of customization power in terms of the arrangement of the activities and devices. You can drag and drop devices based on your preferences, and it gives you quick access to activities with a tap of the screen. The directional controls are also nice to have, and those gestures can be customized as well. If you’re a cable subscriber, you’ll likely appreciate the Favorites screen where you can set all your most-viewed channels and launch them with just a tap.
The Harmony Ultimate One is an older Logitech remote that has a list price of $250. While it’s easy to purchase this remote for at least $100 less than the original MSRP, the price is still a bit steep for what you get. After all, there’s no smart-home integration or support for streaming devices like Amazon Fire TV without also purchasing the Harmony Hub, which retails for an additional $100. Newer Logitech models like the Harmony Elite come with the Harmony Hub as well as an updated touchscreen remote, but retail for an additional $100 out of the box (the Elite starts at $350).
A close match to the Harmony Ultimate One comes from another remote in the Harmony lineup: the Harmony 950. This remote has the same list price and is also an infrared-only universal remote with a touchscreen that can control up to 15 other devices. You’ll also likely be able to find this option for much less than the original list price, but since it’s the newer of the two with what some say is a better screen, the ability to customize more buttons, and better placement of those critical play/pause buttons, you may want to opt for the Harmony 950 instead.
Still on the fence? Take a look at some of our other recommendations for the best universal remotes. And if you’re looking for the best buys for your home theater, check out our picks for the best home theater receivers and center channel speakers.
A universal remote for home entertainment that lacks smart-home upgrades.
The Logitech Harmony Ultimate One may be a good choice for customers who want a universal remote with touchscreen controls but don’t care about smart device or voice-control management. The configuration process can be lengthy and manual, but if you have the time and patience, this remote offers an easy solution for managing a large, multi-device entertainment setup.