At the high end of the Logitech Universal remote offerings, you’ll find the Harmony Elite and the Harmony 950.
What is not obvious from reading the Logitech website or even some other review sites, is that the Harmony 950 and the Elite are actually the exact same remote.
The primary difference between Harmony 950 and the Elite is that the 950 does not come with the Harmony Hub and the Elite does. The Hub is what makes it possible to use either Bluetooth, Wi-fi, or IR blasters to control particular components as well as to integrate smart home devices with your home theater setup.
There is a good reason that the Elite made our list of the Best Universal Remotes.
So if you know that you will need the hub functionality, then you should go with the Elite, but if you only plan on using IR to control your devices, then save some money and get the Harmony 950. You can always add the hub later.
The Harmony Elite is the flagship model in the Logitech lineup. It has just about every feature you could possibly need in a universal remote. With the inclusion of the Harmony Hub you can extend yoru control to any Smart Home device and integrate voice control into your home theater by connecting to a device like the Amazon Echo.
Not much has changed in the past year or so when it comes to the Logitech Remotes. The Elite is still the best remote on the market. The fact that not much has changed on that front also speaks to the future proof way the remote is designed.
Because it makes use of the Harmony Hub and a touch screen, it really doesn’t matter what new devices you get, this thing will be able to control it all with a simple software update. It would probably be the last remote you’ll ever have to buy.
When you purchase the Harmony Elite, it comes with the following included in the box…
- Elite Touchscreen Universal Remote Control (with rechargeable battery)
- Harmony Smart Hub
- 2 IR mini-blasters
- Charging station
- USB cable
- 2 AC adapters
- Complete user documentation
Logitech has many years of experience with remotes. That means that they have years worth of feedback on the ergonomics of a remote.
The most used buttons, the channel up/down, volume up/down, and directional pad are right in the middle where your thumb would be if you were holding the remote in your hand. Just above that are the playback buttons (play, stop, record, fast forward, and rewind).
If you are coming from a more traditional remote then one of the first things you might notice is the lack of a number pad on the physical buttons. You can find the numbers pad on the LCD screen. To access it, you swipe right or left from the main screen.
There are actually 4 different screens that you can access on the LCD screen: Numbers, Favorites, Commands, and Activities. You can designate which screen appears first when you start an Activity. By default it is the Favorites screen. If you have taken the time to set up your favorites, then I’ve found this to be the best option.
Like most Logitech universal remotes, the Elite model uses a computer software-based setup process.
The software walks you through the setup pretty well. The simplicity or complexity of the setup is really based on the complexity of your home theater setup as well as any smarthome devices you want to integrate with the Harmony Hub.
Rather than go through the entire setup process here, if you want a step by step explanation of the process, check out this video. I recommend saving it for later and watching it before attempting to set up your new remote.
If you want to go through the complete list of supported devices for every Logitech remote, you can review that list here.
The Elite has a built in battery that can be recharged in the remote simply by placing the remote in it’s cradle.
In addition, this battery is replaceable. So when it wears out (as all rechargeable batters do) you can replace it without having to replace the entire remote. It is a specific battery that you to get from Logitech, so you can’t just go to the store and pick up replacement batteries. But it is readily available on Amazon for a pretty reasonable price.
It is pretty easy to replace as well. You can see the process here.
The Elite includes the Harmony Hub with the remote. This is the devices that essentially extends the functionality of the remote and connects the remote to smarthome devices and the IR blasters that are included in the package.
The IR blasters are what allow you to control IR controlled devices that are not within line of sight of the remote. You connect them to the hub and then place the other end somewhere in line of sight to the IR controlled devices. This will “blast” an IR signal to all of those devices. This is especially helpful for devices that are behind cabinet doors or if you have components in different parts of the room.
The Elite includes two (2) IR blasters.
Smart Home Connectivity
With the included hub, the Harmony Elite connects to a huge list of smart home devices. This includes both devices that can be controlled by the remote and devices that can be used to trigger the hub to control your home theater devices.
Controlling Other Devices With Your Remote
With the hub, you can use the remote to control many smart home devices such as lighting or window shades that can enhance the home theater experience. For example, you can program a “watch movie” sequence that will turn on all the appropriate home theater components, lower the projection screen, dim the main lights, and close the shades.
You can even turn off all the lights in the house and lock the doors with one press of the “goodnight” button.
Using Smart Home Devices To Trigger The Remote
You can control the hub with voice activated devices such as the Amazon Echo, Google Home, or Apple’s Siri.
This is my favorite feature of the Harmony Hub. Think back to the “watch a movie” command I described above. With an Amazon Echo, I can just simply give a verbal command to perform all those tasks. So I can be pouring the drinks or making popcorn while the home theater sets itself up.
At this time, Echo (Alexa) controls are relatively limited, but Amazon is adding new functionality to this device every week, so it will not be long until the list of things Alexa can do will grow.
In addition to connection to your smarthome devices, the hub also allows you to use your smartphone in place of the remote.
Logitech has an app called “Harmony Control.” This is great for controlling things when you aren’t near the remote itself. It also means that everyone in the home has full control of the home theater setup in their pockets. This can either be very useful or it can make for some interesting remote battles for two people that want to watch different things.
I found that it comes in handy when I have company over and I am busy doing something elsewhere in the home when I need to change something on the TV. As long as I have my phone with me, it doesn’t matter where the remote is.
You really can’t go wrong with the Harmony Elite. It’s probably the best universal remote on the market.
Who Is It For?
If you have a large or complicated home theater setup or have your components behind a cabinet door then the Elite is a great choice. The included IR blasters that work in conjunction with the RF functionality of the remote will make things a lot easier for you.
Also, if your home theater setup has built in smart home lighting then having a smart home compatible system like the Elite can be a huge benefit. You can just press the movie button and have all the correct components turn on as the lights dim for the movie.
There are a lot of similarities between the Harmony 950 and the Elite. In fact, they are the same remote. Looking at the remote itself, there are no differences at all. The only difference is that the 950 does not include the hub. Logitech tends to downplay that fact a little bit in their product descriptions because (obviously) they want to encourage you to get the more expensive option.
When you purchase the Harmony 950, it comes with the following in the box…
- Harmony 950 IR-based remote (with rechargeable battery)
- Charging station
- USB cable (Type A)
- AC adapter
- User documentation
Physically, the Harmony 950 is identical to the Elite. So if you read the review of the Elite above, then you already know about the layout of the 950. It’s exactly the same.
The setup process is the same as far as how you do it, but there are a few things to keep in mind when you are setting up a 950 as compared to the Elite.
The 950 is limited to controlling devices with IR signals. So devices like an Apple TV that uses Bluetooth (although the Apple TV 4th Gen. can be controlled by IR as well). So you need to keep this limitation in mind when setting up your remote.
Also, keep in mind that the 950 alone requires line of sight to all your devices. So aside from setting up the remote itself, you need to ensure that you have your home theater set up in such a way to make this practical. For example, you can’t keep components behind a cabinet and it might be difficult if certain components (such as a projector) require pointing the remote in a different direction as the rest of the components.
The battery on the 950 is the same as the one in the Elite. In fact, the battery itself is interchangeable between the two remotes.
Smart Home Connectivity
This is one area where the 950 differs from the Elite. Out of the box, the 950 has no smart home connectivity.
However, you can easily add all of the functionality of the Elite simply by adding the Harmony Hub to your setup.
If you purchase the Harmony Hub separately, it comes with the following…
- Harmony Hub
- IR mini-blaster
- USB cable (Type A)
- AC adapter
- User documentation
There are two significant difference between buying the Elite package and buying the 950 and Hub separately. First, the Elite hub can control up to 15 devices while the Harmony Hub can only control 8. That being said, the 950 itself can control up to 15 devices, so you may be able to use a combination of the Hub and the IR from the remote itself. I haven’t tested that though.
Second, the Harmony Hub only includes one (1) IR blaster. You can purchase additional IR blasters separately though, so this is not that big of a deal.
The Harmony 950 is a great option if you are in the process of building up your home theater and want to save some money.
The best part about the 950 is that you can just add a Harmony Hub later on to add Bluetooth, Wi-fi, and smarthome connectivity. As described above, buying them separately may not be quite as good as getting the entire Elite package, but it is all that most people will ever need.
First, figure out what your needs are. The descriptions below should help you make the best decision.
You should also be aware that as of the time of the writing of this post, the MSRP price listed on the Logitech website indicated that the Elite is more expensive than buying the 950 and the Hub separately. But actual prices from retailers can be a little different. I recommend using the links below to check out the current prices.
Who Should Get The Harmony Elite?
- You need (or want) the Harmony Hub to integrate your home theater components into a larger smart home setup.
- You have any devices that require Bluetooth or Wi-fi to control them.
- You have a home theater setup that includes components behind cabinets or in different parts of the room (especially if you think you need more than one IR blaster).
Who Should Get The Harmony 950?
- You only need IR to control your devices.
- You don’t have other smart home devices in your home.
- All of your components are in the same part of the room and not behind anything.
Do you have any questions about the differences between the Logitech Harmony Elite and 950 that I didn’t cover?
Let me know in the comments below and I’ll do the research and add it to the article.