Is the Best Universal Remote Control Going To Be Your Smartphone?

Is the Best Universal Remote Control Going To Be Your Smartphone?

Gregory Han
Apr 17, 2013

"Finally!" That's what I uttered upon reading the announcement of a hardware plus mobile app solution which converts Android and iOS devices into a programmable universal remote control...

The Logitech Harmony Smart Control is comprised of three parts: the first and most important is the Harmony iPhone or Android app, which turns your mobile phone into a personalized universal remote control, with 50 favorite channel icons and gesture control specific to programmed users. 

Second, is the Harmony Hub, the hardware nexus which converts your smartphone's wi-fi commands (or RF remotes) into A/V component-compatible IR and Bluetooth commands. The extra bonus is, because the Harmony Hub uses IR to communicate between connected devices, the unit can be stored away behind closed media cabinet doors and still operate.

The last piece of the system is a simple remote, useful as a backup when your phone isn't readily available (or more likely, still charging).

There's a good chance I'll be saying goodbye to a dedicated hardware remote in the near future.

If you've already got an Android smartphone or tablet and a relatively new Samsung HDTV display, you can download the Samsung Remote app for some limited controls via smart device, with a similar option for LG HDTV users using the LG TV Remote app.

iOS users itching to integrate their iPhone, Touch, or iPad into their home entertainment system can also use Roomie, an IR adaptor and app system similar to Logitech's system, but with the addition of iTunes and Airplay Integration, Lutron and Insteon automation compatibility, and an extensive list of customization options for those looking for features beyond typical audio/video components operations.

As much as I can appreciate the touch-interface programmable remote I use now, I've always hoped an app would one day appear to replace the need for a dedicated remote control for home entertainment duties (the Harmony Hub can also work with Philips LED lightbulbs, for a complete "turn down the lights" watching experience). The transition over to an smart device app seems a logical progression, much in the same vein as smartphones replacing dedicated GPS units, considering we all carry our phones and/or tablets everywhere we go. I hope to give the new system a whirl once available (Logitech is taking pre-orders right now for the $129.99 system), with the hopes of one less device cluttering the apartment.

(Images: Logitech, Gregory Han, Samsung, LG; Roomie)

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