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The best remote on the market today

Logitech’s Harmony Ultimate with Harmony Ultimate Hub

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July 12, 2013

Murray-HillSASKATOON, SK, Jul 12, 2013/ Troy Media/ – Logitech’s brand new Harmony Ultimate with Harmony Ultimate Hub takes its Harmony 900 remote with RF and ramps things up considerably making it, in my opinion, the best remote on the market today.

But at nearly C$350, it had better be. That’s a lot of money just for a remote but if one device was ever worth that kind of price tag, then the Harmony Ultimate with Harmony Hub is the one.

The Harmony Ultimate differs from my original Harmony 900 in one important particular: instead of just using a programmable Infrared remote with an RF (radio frequency) interface, the Ultimate offloads that Infrared programming to a networked device. This makes it even more powerful because you can now use the remote itself or any smartphone or tablet. The Harmony Hub offers Bluetooth connectivity to game consoles and is also sold by Logitech as a stand-alone accessory.[emember_protected]

Logitech, out of most of the companies whose products I’ve reviewed, is one of the most innovative. It “gets” the modern, wireless and mobile lifestyle many people live.

Setup of this new remote is dead simple, and if you’ve ever set up a Harmony remote you’ll only need a few minutes to get this one up and running. Make sure you have all of the information about the manufacturer and model number of every device you to remote control, go to Myharmony.com then fire up the software on your computer that’s used to setup the Harmony Ultimate. Once you’re into the software it’s as simple as following the prompts and directions on the screen – easy-peasy.

Up to 15 devices can be controlled by the Harmony Ultimate – certainly a lot more than I have. But this setup also includes game gear, so it can add up pretty fast.

remoteLogitech’s extensive library of nearly 250,000 products is a big help here: any modern device should be in the list. Once you’ve set your devices up, you need to select the various Activities you’ll be using the remote for – like Watch TV, Listen to Music, Play DVD – that sort of thing. You can even use the Harmony Ultimate to control your Philips HUE lights – which I’ll be reviewing soon.

The customizable touchscreen on the Harmony Ultimate is a pleasure to use, from the touch interface to the various swipe controls; everything is at your fingertips. The backlit buttons make accessing everything easier in a darkened room, and you’re even able to personalize your own list of favourite channels, going to them with a single touch of an icon. It’s really very simple and useful.

As the Harmony App, for iOS or Android, turns your smart device into a powerful remote, you can even drive “she who must be obeyed” crazy when she assumes control of the Ultimate by overriding her preferences. I like it!

You can set the device up on either a Mac or a PC, and all you need is a broadband Internet connection or an 802.11 b/g/n home Wi-Finetwork.

As nice as the App is and the Harmony Ultimate itself are, it’s the Harmony Hub that’s the brains of this outfit. It’s the key to the whole operation and keeps all the remotes working together, whether you happen to be using the Harmony Ultimate or any remote App on your smartphone. However users are limited to Infrared or Bluetooth connectivity, although the individual Blasters convert RF signals to IR signals for the devices to use. The RF signals will work through doors, so you can close your devices in a cabinet and still control them – a feature I love.

All told, the Harmony Ultimate with Harmony Hub is as amazing way to control your audiovisual system from one remote and from smartphones. It’s expensive, but as in most things, you get what you pay for. So if you’re in the market for a universal remote to get a handle on controlling all your home devices, then you owe it to yourself to at least have a look at the best device on the market. Once you see what it can do the price looks a lot less prohibitive.

PROS: RF control of your AV equipment; simple set-up; huge database of equipment so you’ll probably be able to find yours; the Hub enables you to integrate your smartphone into the remote control mix.

CONS: Expensive; it’d be nice if it weren’t limited to IR and Bluetooth; two-way communication would also be a real plus.

TO SUM IT UP: The Harmony Ultimate Remote with Harmony Hub is the best system on the market in my view. It’s powerful, easy to set up and use and works behind closed doors. The ability to use my iPhone as a remote is fantastic and you get a fair bang for your buck – this is worth getting.[/emember_protected]

Troy Media columnist Murray Hill is lead tech writer at communicatto.com, a social media marketing agency. You can follow Murray on Twitter at @MurrayDHill.

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