Several years ago we put together a comprehensive comparison guide for Logitech's Harmony range of universal remote controls, the Kleenex of consumer remote controls. Well, in tech years two years is a lifetime, and Logitech has since released several new upgraded models with an array of new features for wrangling in a collection of remotes into a single unit. But which one to choose?
Gone are the original powerhouse universal remotes such as the Harmony 900, Harmony One, and the much maligned Harmony 1100. While you can still find discontinued models on Amazon, they've been officially put to pasture. The lone survivor from days of yore is the current bottom of the lineup, Harmony 650, which serves as the entry level model with a reduced $80 price tag (from $100).
The new Logitech Harmony remotes include the Harmony Smart Control, Harmony touch, and Harmony Ultimate, which comes in at a whopping $350! Here are the pros and cons of each remote model.
Logitech Harmony 650 ($80) Pros: Color display with 4 physical buttons; great value when on sale; backlit buttons. Cons: No touchscreen; only controls 5 devices.
While the Logitech Harmony 650 does sport a color screen, there are no touch capabilities as this budget model relies solely on regular physical buttons (which some may prefer). Four buttons next to the screen correspond to icons appearing on the screen for any given activity. The Harmony 650 isn't rechargeable, which is a shame considering the inconvenience of having to regularly switch out batteries. If you want the 650, a lot of retailers offer it at discount regularly, so keep your eye open in stores and online at places such as Apartment Therapy's sales calendar.
Logitech Harmony Smart Control($130) Pros: Control from your smartphone or tablet; RF and Bluetooth wireless capability. Cons: Requires a smartphone or tablet on hand and launching an app to use.
The Harmony Smart Control is all about leveraging your existing tech. The Harmony Hub sits behind closed doors and receives signals from your smartphone or tablet and beams out IR or Bluetooth. You can easily personalize controls for everyone in the house with custom menus based on your own preferences. It also comes with a simple remote control for those times when your phone isn't available or if you need to actually make a phone call with it.
Logitech Harmony Touch($250) Pros: Intuitive touch-swipe interface; Bright and responsive 2.4" QVGA display; Recharging cradle; controls up to 15 devices; backlit buttons. Cons: Expensive; lacking in physical buttons for those who like pressing real buttons; no RF capability.
We recently gave the Logitech Harmony Touch a strong recommendation in our Tech Test Lab Review. The Harmony is an interesting step forward by Logitech in an era of intuitive touchscreens. Gone are the old inconsistent touchscreens of the Harmony 900 and Harmony One. In its place is a slick touch-swipe user interface that we're all already used to with our love of smartphones.
Logitech Harmony Ultimate($350) Pros: RF and Bluetooth wireless capability; recharging cradle; control from smartphone or tablet; Intuitive touch-swipe interface; bright and responsive 2.4" QVGA display; Controls up to 15 devices; backlit buttons. Cons: Most expensive model.
The Logitech Harmony Ultimate combines the features of the Harmony Touch and Harmony Smart Control into one. Almost identical in appearance, the Harmony Ultimate adds RF wireless capability, the one "super feature" missing from the Harmony Touch. RF allows you to send your signal through walls without the line of sight requirements of IR, great if you hide away components in a closet or behind a media cabinet door. The included Harmony Hub receives the Harmony Ultimate's RF signal and blasts out IR or even Bluetooth to control your hidden devices. With the Harmony App you can even control this setup from your smartphone or tablet.
Logitech's website has a helpful guide to help you compare the specific feature differences of each of their remotes (click on chart for larger preview).