With the constantly growing number of devices we also get more and more remote controls on the coffee table. Now that is something that we do not want and Logitech wants to help us with this. The company launched the Logitech Harmony Elite earlier this year. This is a remote control that allows you to operate both your home cinema equipment and your smart home equipment.
What is the Logitech Harmony Elite?
Logitech has a wide range of universal remote controls and with the Harmony Elite you immediately have the most advanced model. With the Harmony Elite it is possible to replace remote controls for up to 15 entertainment devices and to combine this with managing smart home products such as lighting, speakers and thermostats.
The big advantage of this accessory is that it is a complete package; a remote control with touch display, a hub for communication, an app for settings and virtual remote control, and infrared extenders. You can add remote controls of almost all devices and brands to the Harmony Elite and you can also add / program buttons yourself. The touch display makes it possible to dive into the settings of devices, tap channels directly and add extra options. You can create routines so you can switch on various devices at the touch of a button. You can even operate smart home equipment like lights and the thermostat with this remote control. The infrared extenders ensure that you can clean the equipment neatly in a cabinet without getting in the way of the control. In short, a handy, complete and comprehensive solution with which you only have one remote control. But you also pay for that; the Harmony Elite costs about 250 to 300 euros.
What’s in the box?
The Logitech Harmony Elite comes with various components. In addition to the remote control, we see the hub in the box that connects to convert signals into an understandable form for all devices. There is also a charging station in the box. This is for charging the remote control and at the same time synchronizing the hub and remote control. In addition, Logitech supplies three infrared extenders so that you can put all your AV equipment in the cabinet and keep operating at a distance.
With the Harmony Elite you have the most premium product of Logitech and you can also see that. The remote control itself is a bit hefty but therefore contains all the buttons you could wish for. The remote control, however, feels sturdy, comfortable in the hand and is also pleasant to use with one hand. It is in terms of feeling and use one of the best remote controls that we have had in our hands to date. The buttons also feel high-quality, have a comfortable travel and respond quickly. The 2.4-inch touchscreen on the remote adds a little extra to the look and feel. The keys on the remote control light up in the dark and you get feedback about what you are doing through vibrations.
The hub is a stone formation black box that also serves as an infrared transmitter. This hub provides communication between remote control and equipment. Although the cabinet looks slick and sleek, it is really a dust magnet thanks to the glossy finish. To dust the day when it is in sight is therefore not a luxury. The standard (the charging station) has less problems and can be placed on your TV cabinet or on a windowsill. The remote control is firmly in place and during the charging process, automatic updates are searched for and synchronized.
To get started with the Logitech Harmony Elite, you must of course install the remote control first. However, this is a piece of cake, provided you know what you want and what you are doing. When you set up the remote control you have the choice of a computer (browser) or the Harmony app for Android or iOS. We have chosen the app, but it is no different. The app can also be used directly as a remote control after setting up, if you do not have it at hand.
Once you have installed the app, created an account and connected the system to your WiFi network, you can get started with setting up the different devices, activities, groups and buttons. At first it seems cluttered but follow the steps and you can be sure. First, you set up the devices you want to control. In Logitech’s database you can find almost all devices, including TVs, media players and set-top boxes. You search for your model and the buttons are automatically taken over. You can add a name for each device, choose an icon and change various settings to optimize the operation. This allows you to indicate whether the device should always remain on, or whether infrared signals should be sent several times if the device does not respond immediately and if there is a delay between executing commands. The latter is useful when your device needs a few seconds to boot. The remote then waits for a moment before sending the signal from, for example, the preferred station.
You can then add smart home devices from your network. You can search for WiFi devices, but standard support for Philips Hue, Nest and LifX has been added. Through the app you log in to your Nest, Hue or LifX account, you give permission to the lights, sensors and thermostats to operate and you see them appear in the Harmony app. There you can then group lamps, import scenes and add or exclude sensors.
The third step is the most convenient step. Now you can create activities. An activity is an action involving different devices. For example, we have created the activity ‘TV and receiver on’. This turns on the TV, the set-top box is switched on and the Hue lamps in the living room are switched on. Setting up an activity is done in a few minutes but requires some test work because you do not know exactly how fast devices react. You indicate which devices belong to the start sequence (switch on) and how they should respond. Then you set the end sequence (stakeout). You can indicate in which channel you want to start, what brightness and color the lights should take, whether there should be a delay between the commands (if the set-top box or TV needs some time to activate) and which home control buttons on the remote control you want to give a specific function within this activity. You can even create a schedule for an automatic activity that takes place, for example, at 19:00 in the evening or a sensor (eg from Nest) as a trigger. The possibilities are endless and you can thus automate your entire av and smart home system.
In the app you have further options to give the home control keys a personal function. We have connected the lamps to the two buttons with the lamp icons, after which the brightness can be adjusted with the plus and minus buttons. We have assigned one of the buttons with the plug icon to the Nest thermostat. You can also set your favorite channels, which is useful, for example, when the HD channels are located far in the channel list. The favorite channels appear in a handy tab on the touchscreen, including logos of the channels. You can also use the app to synchronize the remote control with the latest changes, search for updates and add a hub or remote control.
Two buttons are located under the touchscreen on the remote control; activities and devices. At activities you see on the touchscreen the activities that you have set and can activate or stop. If you swipe to the right, you will enter activities within extra tabs; the favorite channels, number buttons for quick operation and some basic settings of the TV. With devices you can see the AV and smart home devices that you have added. Click on this that you can directly control that device (or group).
As mentioned above, it is important that you know in advance what you want to operate, which devices need to be added, how the activity should be designed and which buttons of the remote control you want to adapt to your own wishes. If you have this in mind, the steps in the app are self-explanatory and you have a complete universal remote control that allows you to control everything. Of course, the remote control itself also has the familiar standard keys, such as numbers, menu buttons, volume keys, recording keys, etc. These keys are automatically directed to the device that has the ‘leading role’ at that moment. In our case, this is the set-top box within the activity. All buttons and thus commands are directed at this device. However, if I still want to operate the TV, you can choose devices for the TV and you can operate this device directly. Note that you can set little on the remote control yourself. There are a few basic settings available but for changing devices, activities or other things you really have to be in the app.
The beauty is that the remote control does not need to be directed anymore. No matter how you sit, wherever you are; you can control your devices. The Elite connects to the Hub via Wi-Fi, which then sends the signals via WiFi, bluetooth or infrared (itself or via the extension). The remote control itself also has infrared transmitters so you can always transmit a signal and react quickly. If, incidentally, something does not work – a device that does not respond or does not respond – then there are various options that allow you to identify the problem and also solve it directly 9 out of 10 times. It is very nice that Logitech also continues to think along with problems and offers you various solutions.
Smart home integration
The Logitech Harmony Elite remote control is, as you can see, an accessory that is no longer only suitable for your audio and video equipment. The remote has been developed for the smart home, with direct integration of, among others, Hue and Nest. So you can operate your lights and thermostat quickly and easily with the remote control, and that is certainly nice for our home theater as we have lit it with Philips Hue. From the installation of the Harmony Ultimate this is a piece of cake. You indicate in the Harmony app that you want to add Home Control devices and select Philips Hue here. Then you will be asked to log in with your Hue account to grant permission and you can use the button on the Bridge to link your remote control.
You can also directly import the created scenes to the remote control. Once set, you can directly control the lights in Devices in the menu of the remote control and app (in terms of brightness and color) but you can also create an activity via the Logitech software. An activity is a number of steps that can be followed at the touch of a button. For example, we have created a ‘watch TV’ activity that directly switches on the TV, receiver, decoder and Hue lighting. With the press of a button on the remote control you are immediately ready to watch a movie.
The Logitech Harmony Elite is a relief to work with. Everything works flawlessly, effortlessly and – more importantly – can be set up completely according to your own wishes. At the touch of a button, when we come home, the TV, the set-top box and the lights are switched on. If necessary, the thermostat with a specific temperature could also be used here. Still, not everything can just be linked with the Logitech Harmony Elite. For example, we have a Raumfeld multiroom system, but there is no integration for this. We still have to manually turn on the Raumfeld speakers next to the TV. The same applies to Heos, while Sonos is supported. You depend largely on the products that are supported by the Harmony developers, unless the device can be controlled by infrared. On this page you can see (and search) which products are supported. However, this ‘problem’ is a problem for all smart home devices.
Also read our Philips Hue review in which we used the Logitech Harmony Elite.
All in all, we come to one conclusion; the Logitech Harmony Elite is currently the best universal remote for your AV equipment and smart home equipment. We are very impressed with the possibilities and ease of use, and we hope Logitech will only support more devices in the future. 250 to 300 euros is a lot of money but it saves you with a lot of remote controls, it brings peace on the coffee table and gives you the innovative possibility to let all those devices play together. But most importantly; the Harmony Elite works, and works perfectly.