Without a doubt, the king of the home theater remote world is the Logitech Harmony Elite.
With years of development behind their remotes, the Harmony Elite is the latest evolution of the most popular high end home theater remote line on the market.
If you want to grab one right now, CLICK HERE to get it on Amazon.
With some well appreciated improvements over it’s predecessor, it is difficult to find flaws with this remote. But keep reading, because I’ll tell you where it’s not perfect.
Compare the Harmony Elite To Related Remotes:
- Logitech Harmony Elite vs. 950
- Logitech Harmony Elite vs. Companion
- Logitech Harmony Elite vs. Ultimate
What’s Included: When you buy the Logitech Harmony Elite, the box contains the Harmony Elite remote, the Hub, (2) IR blasters, a charging cradle, a micro USB cable and (2) AC adapters. The remote uses Bluetooth to communicate with the Hub, so there is no need of line of sight. Then, the Hub sends IR (infrared), Wi-Fi, or Bluetooth signals to your components depending on the device.
- Layout and Ergonomics
- Smart Home Compatibility
- Battery Life
- Harmony App
- Overall Impression
Layout and Ergonomics
The remote has a large touch screen and the usual set of regular remote buttons below it. The playback buttons (Play/Pause, Fast Forward, Reverse, Record and Stop) are located right below the touch screen.
Below the playback buttons, right in the center of the remote are the most commonly used buttons. These include the directional pad, “OK” or enter button, channel up/down, volume up/down, mute, and last channel button.
Putting these most used buttons right in the middle make this remote a pleasure to use. As soon as you grip it naturally, these buttons are within easy reach.
Right below those are the DVR, Guide and Info buttons. These are probably used about as often as the playback buttons so it makes sense that they are adjacent to the primary buttons.
Then there are color coded custom buttons. Although you can do just about anything you need with the touch screen, having customizable hard buttons can be very helpful.
There are buttons at the very bottom that can be programmed to control your smart home devices. These come in handy when you are watching a loud movie or game that might interfere with using voice commands for your Echo or Google Home device.
The Elite continues the previous generation’s soft finish on the bottom. This is more than a visually appealing two tone design choice. It actually helps with gripping and prevents the remote from slipping out of your hand.
While we’re talking about the bottom of the remote, it also has a uniquely contoured shape that fits really nicely in your hand. I gave it to a few people to hold and even those with smaller hands found it quite easy to grip and access all the buttons with minimal re-gripping.
Logitech does setup as good as anyone and the Harmony Elite is no different.
Setup requires an Android or iOS device, or a computer. Using the Harmony app (smartphone or web app) you set up an account and each device. Although the setup process can take a while, especially with more complicated home theater setups, Logitech does walk you through it relatively painlessly.
The Elite makes setting up activities incredibly simple. You can have all the basic activities set up in minutes. However, the more involved sequences do take a little bit of time to set up.
If you are looking for a remote that just works right out of the box and with minimal setup, then the Harmony Elite is probably not the right remote for you.
However, the Elite really shines with complex systems. My favorite functionality of the remote is the ability to use “Activities.” Activities are a series of commands all triggered by a single button press.
Smart Home Compatibility
The Harmony Elite works with a very wide range of smart home devices, including lights, shades, thermostats, and more.
If you already have a voice controlled device such as an Echo (Alexa) or a Google Home, then you probably already use that to control smart home devices. That may make you think that having the same functionality on your remote is unnecessary.
You’d be wrong.
The real power of being able to control smart home devices with the Harmony Elite comes when you integrate these functions in the Activities I talked about above. This let’s you build sequences (or Activities) that include things other than your home theater components.
For example, you can simply press “Watch A Movie” on your remote and Logitech will send commands to turn on the projector, turn on your receiver, turn on your BluRay player, AND also dim the lights and close the shades (assuming they are smart home controlled).
You can even start with the Echo or Google home command to “Watch A Movie” and leave the remote in the cradle. The Harmony Hub will take care of everything.
So the Elite, and specifically the Harmony Hub is actually a device that connects the two worlds of your home theater and your smart home into one programmable ecosystem.
If you want to see all the smart home devices that are compatible with the Harmony line of remotes follow this link.
Battery life is largely irrelevant when it comes to home theater remotes…especially rechargeable remotes that have a cradle to sit in.
The Harmony Elite falls into that category.
There have been some reviews out there that peg the battery life as average. But frankly, that’s all you need when it comes to this remote. To be fair, I found the battery life to be pretty good actually. I left it out of the cradle for almost a week and it didn’t die. If you remember to put it back in the cradle most of the time then you’ll be in good shape.
On the topic of the cradle, I really liked the design. I used to own an older Logitech remote and the cradle for that one required you to lay the remote flat. It had two problems…it didn’t always make a good connection with the charging leads and it took up a lot of space.
The cradle for the Harmony Elite allows you to stand the remote up. That solves both those problems. No matter how carelessly I placed it in the cradle, as long as it got in there, it was charging.
By allowing you to stand up the remote, that gives you plenty of room on your table for drinks and snacks (yes, that is the second mention of food in a remote review…priorities).
The stand up cradle also makes the remote easier to grab. Although that is a minor concern, it’s those little touches that Logitech has figured out over the years of developing universal remotes.
A big advantage the top of the line remotes have over the others is the use of Bluetooth technology.
The way that the Harmony Elite controls your devices is by sending a signal to the Harmony Hub via Bluetooth. The Hub then is connected to infrared “blasters” that “blast” the IR signal to all of you devices. This allows you to keep your home theater components behind cabinets and still have complete access to control them.
You do have the option to have IR devices controlled directly by the Harmony Elite as well. For each component, you will designate in the setup whether it should be controlled by the IR of the remote or by the IR blasters attached to the hub.
One common use case is when you have a projector setup with the components off to the side or even behind the seating area out of sight. Everyone is just used to pointing the remote at the screen to control things. With the Harmony Elite, you can point the remote wherever you want and keep your components anywhere in the room you want and it will all work just fine.
Contrary to some information out there in other reviews, the Harmony Elite remote uses Bluetooth technology rather than radio frequency (RF) to communicate with the hub. The results are the same but for complete accuracy, I wanted to make this clear. The remote communicates to the hub via Bluetooth, which then uses IR blasters to control the components that use IR. I wouldn’t consider this a negative compared to prior models because even the Harmony devices that had RF in the past did not directly control RF devices. You can read all about that on this Logitech blog entry from 2010.
The Logitech Harmony App (iPhone and Android)
I never realized the value of a phone app to control my home theater until I had one.
I always thought that if I was watching something, the remote would be within a few feet anyway so who cares about phone or tablet control.
I was wrong.
The Logitech Harmony App is actually quite useful. You can use it to control TV or music when you are in an adjacent room (for me that’s usually the kitchen making a snack). It can also be helpful if you have your home theater setup in the basement and you want to get it all turned on before you even walk down there. With smart home connectivity, this might mean running an entire activity including lights and window shades.
It can also be useful for assisting those that may not be all that tech savvy. When you get that panicked call asking for help watching TV, the app may help you solve it no matter where you are. You’ll look like a genius.
It also helps if you leave the room and forget to turn things off. I do that a lot too.
This is the remote that I chose to buy for myself and use in my home theater setup. Aside from a MUCH more expensive custom designed setup, this is the pinnacle of consumer home theater remotes. The integration is almost exhaustive and the ease of use and ergonomics are second to none.
If you are building a killer home theater setup, then this is probably the universal remote you want.
If you want to get more details, check out the customer reviews, and see the current pricing you can check it out on Amazon by clicking HERE.