Last year, after we moved, I grew tired of having to hunt for all of the various remotes every time we wanted to watch one of the two main TVs in our home. Our toddler had a habit of tossing the remotes under the couch, beds or various nooks and crannies. Finally, I decided to consolidate by researching the current Logitech universal remote systems.
After some basic research I determined that the Logitech Harmony Companion would be a good fit for our needs. I would have preferred to get a Logitech universal remote with an embedded touch screen but those were well outside of our price range. The retail price of about $140 is still a bit pricy but the features made it appealing to me.
It’s capable of controlling up to eight entertainment devices; the TV with the most devices in our home has no more than five connected (including the soundbar). The system is composed of a hub (controller) and a Logitech remote. It also provides a remote IR blaster and a mobile app. The app is required to configure and update the system so you need to have a compatible phone to manage it. The mobile app also functions as a universal remote, which can be handy when our toddler has managed to hide the Logitech remote as well (or on very lazy days when you’re tired of getting up for the hundredth time and the remote itself is way, way over there on the kitchen counter).
I was so pleased with the experience that I decided to purchase an additional set to use in the bedroom though the second purchase was a discounted, refurbished one (it offered the same warranty and I haven’t had any hardware issues with it).
Setting up devices is relatively simple though it may take a little more work and testing to fully work out the proper “Activities” setup. There’s no remote codes involved (at least not in my experience) – all I’ve had to do was enter the manufacturer and model of my devices and the system has been able to find the information every time. I’ve also changed the remote button functions for a couple of actions when using my cable DVR though for the most part its defaults work well.
Selecting a defined Action can change which devices are being used with the TV and it also alters how the remote buttons functions. Changing to different inputs via an Action usually works perfectly though on older TVs, which cannot be set to change to a specific input directly, it can get out of sync as that’s more of a macro-style input change (for example, on one of our older TVs it actually had to cycle through the input list while with our newer TVs it could go directly to a specific input). If I’m dealing with a TV like that I’d usually keep the original TV remote somewhere handy though not out and with the other remote.
I haven’t used the built-in Alexa integration though when I first set up these devices the skill in Alexa wasn’t available; I was able to perform some basic actions via integration with my Indigo home automation software though I may discontinue that and instead use what is built into Alexa.
Every now and then I will have some issues where there appears to be a significant delay between when I first start an action and when I can actually get the remote to interact with the devices; I think this is an issue specific to the hub itself but I’m not 100% certain as it doesn’t happen very often. I have noticed that battery in the remote of one of our systems can become slightly misaligned, which may be the cause of such intermittent problems and on a couple of ocassions it was caused by the hub or IR blaster being physically blocked, preventing the IR signals from reaching the devices.
Setup can be a bit time consuming if you need to configure several devices and activities but once it’s been programmed the process rarely ever needs to be repeated. My only major annoyance, though usually it’s not something that one would experience very often, is that you can’t just swap the defined TV device directly with another one to work with the existing activities. The new TV must be added and more often than not this leads to having to remove the existing activities and rebuilding them with the new TV device.
The designers have provided a good amount of flexibility and anticipated several scenarious. For example, it can easily accommodate a soundbar so in my activities for the living room TV the volume button always controls the soundbar instead of the TV. They also provide the ability to easily switch between controlling and configuring different hubs within the app.
If not for a few more features, which may be available in more expensive models and most certainly in future modles, the system would be perfect. Using only one remote works great in this system but it falls short in that it has not voice command capabilities (and I can only assume that trying to make a system that can accommodate multiple voice command systems may be a nightmare). For example, our Apple TV 4th Gen and our Xfinity DVR both support voice commands via their respective remotes. As a result, we simply don’t use those features; that may be a dealbreaker for some.