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Logitech Harmony Elite remote control review: About as good as a universal remote can be

Michael Brown | Oct. 14, 2015
Logitech’s Harmony group has long made some of the best universal remote controls on the market. The Harmony Elite is the culmination of all that experience.

Harmony Elite
Credit: Logitech

Logitech’s Harmony group has long made some of the best universal remote controls on the market. The Harmony Elite is the culmination of all that experience. It can control up to 15 audio/visual devices—far more than most people would have in their entertainment center—but it can also control an unlimited number of connected-home devices.

Harmony pioneered the concept of storing remote codes in the cloud, so that the user can program the remote by simply entering the make and model of the device. With Logitech’s latest top-shelf remote, the Harmony Elite, you don’t even need to provide that minimal amount of data—it can sniff out many of your Wi-Fi devices all on its own.

The Harmony Elite consists of a candy-bar-style remote control with touchscreen, a charging cradle to recharge the remote’s batteries, the AC-powered Harmony Hub, and two IR blasters that plug into the hub. All commands go from the remote to the Hub via RF, so there’s no need to point the remote at anything in particular. The hub relays the commands to the target device using either IR or RF, whichever is appropriate to the target.

Harmony Elite
Smartphones and tablets are great, but don’t underestimate the utility of physical buttons. Credit:Logitech

The IR blasters are useful for controlling components inside an enclosed entertainment center—provided there’s enough room between the components and the door in front of them. My own entertainment center doesn’t provide enough clearance for that, so I’ve long used a Niles Audio MSU250 infrared hub that has five discrete emitters that I can affix right on top of the IR receiver for each device I need to control. So for this review, I set Harmony hub and IR blaster on a table in front of my entertainment center and left the door open. The system had no problem reaching my DirecTV satellite tuner even though it’s at the very top of my floor-to-ceiling cabinet (the bottom of the DVR is eight feet off the floor).

The remote control

The remote itself is fabulously well designed, very comfortable to hold, and each of its buttons is within easy reach of your thumb. It has a motion sensor, so the screen activates the instant you pick it up. The 2.0-inch-tall by 1.5-inch-wide color screen is big enough to present shortcuts to four items at once (just slide your finger up and own to display more), and haptic feedback vibrates the remote each time you make a selection on the screen or on the two touch-sensitive buttons below it: Activities and Devices.

 

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