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Logitech Harmony Elite vs Ultimate Home

When it comes to home theater remotes, Logitech is the big boy on the block.

At the top of their product line are two very similar remote control systems with many similar features, the Harmony Elite and the Ultimate Home.

If you are comparing the Harmony Elite vs Ultimate Home, they seem really similar and it can be hard to figure out which one is best for your needs.

The main difference between the Logitech Harmony Elite and the Ultimate Home is the ergonomics and the button placement. As far as functionality and features, the two are nearly the same.  The Ultimate is the predecessor to the Elite. At this point, it has been discontinued by Logitech, but you can still find it online for a great price.

So before I made a choice for my home theater, I did some research and really dug into the details and what separates one from the other. So now that I made my choice, rather than just throw away all the information I gathered, I want to share it with you and hopefully save you the time.

If you are here just to find out my choice, it’s the Logitech Harmony Elite, for reasons that will become apparent as you read on.

Logitech Harmony Elite vs. Ultimate Home Comparison Table

If you just look at the feature comparison, the Elite and the Ultimate are almost identical.

 
CHECK PRICECHECK PRICE
Harmony EliteUltimate Home
ConnectivityBluetooth with IR "blasters"RF with IR "blasters"
One Touch "Actions"YesYes
Full Color Touch ScreenYesYes
Smart Home CompatibilityAmazon Alexa, Google Assistant, and many smart home devices such as Smart Things, Wink, Nest, Lutron, Phillips (complete list).

Added physical smart home buttons.
Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, and many smart home devices such as Smart Things, Wink, Nest, Lutron, Phillips (complete list).
Hub IncludedYesYes
Weight5.85 ounces4.8 ounces

But it’s the details and design where the Elite has improved upon its predecessor.

Logitech Harmony Elite

If you are purchasing a new remote system and want the best, the Harmony Elite should be your first choice.

When you buy one, 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

The remote has a large touch screen and the usual set of regular remote buttons below it. On the Ultimate, the playback buttons (Play/Pause, Fast Forward, Reverse, Record and Stop) were above the display. Here, they have been moved to below the display. This is MUCH easier to use.

It also contains buttons at the very bottom that can be programmed to control your smart home devices. At first I thought this was unnecessary since I have an Amazon Echo or Echo Dot in most parts of the house. However, when you are watching a movie or anything else on your home theater, it can be quite difficult for Alexa to understand your commands. The buttons really come in handy.

Bluetooth Controlled

A big advantage the top of the line remotes have over the others is the use of Bluetooth technology.

What this means is that the remote can communicate with the hub using Bluetooth and then the hub (which you would locate in the cabinet with the devices) is attached to multiple infrared “blasters” that send the signal to the devices as if they had a remote pointing at them. The advantage to this is that you can keep your home theater components hidden or located somewhere inconspicuous and the remote can control them without having line of sight.

This is especially useful for projector setups where many of the components might be stored to the side or even behind the seating area.

Both the Elite and the Ultimate make use of Bluetooth.

This section has been updated to indicate that the Elite remote uses Bluetooth technology rather than radio frequency (RF) to communicate with the hub. It is effectively the same result in that it communicates to the hub which then uses IR blasters to control the components, but we want to be as accurate as possible. We should also note that even the Harmony devices that had RF in the past were not designed to directly control RF devices. You can read all about that in this entry on the Logitech blog from 2010.

The other remote in this comparison, the Ultimate Home, does use RF to communicate with the hub, but as with all Harmony models, it is a proprietary communication between the remote and hub only and does not control any RF devices. You can see that in the Ultimate Home spec sheet here

Setup

Ease of setup is a trademark of the Logitech Harmony series of remotes for many years. I’ve had a few in their lineup and the Elite is no exception.

The setup process on the Elite is the easiest of all the Logitech remotes I have tried. The only downside is that it can’t be done on the Elite itself.

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. It makes use of guided sequences to set up activities such as “Watch TV” which lets you run a sequence of events on various devices to get everything set for that activity. This feature has been on the Logitech remotes for years and it is by far the most useful feature.

The Elite makes setting up activities incredibly simple. You can have all the basic activities set up in minutes.

Smart Home Compatibility

The Harmony Elite works with a very wide range of smart home devices, including lights, shades, thermostats, and more.

Like I mentioned above, I didn’t think this was a big deal because I tend to control these things with Alexa.  However, the ability to incorporate these smart home devices into the “activities” function is tremendous. You can have all your devices ready to go and dim the lights to watch a movie all with one press.

If you prefer to use an Echo or Google Assistant you can also give the verbal command for the activity and everything will be taken care of through the Harmony Hub. If you have a lot of smart home devices in your home theater, the Harmony Elite is a necessity.

If you want to see all the smart home devices that are compatible with the Harmony line of remotes follow this link.

The Logitech Harmony App (iPhone and Android)

I don’t use the iPhone app all that much but it is nice for those times when you sit down and forget to grab the remote.

Yes, I’m lazy.

That being said, it can be quite useful to control things with your smartphone. You can pull up the app while you’re in the kitchen making some movie snacks and click the activity you want so that everything is ready to go when you walk into your home theater.

It also helps if you leave the room and forget to turn things off. I do that a lot.

Battery Life

This is honestly near the bottom of my concerns when it comes to a remote.

Most of the time you are using this remote, you’ll be sitting in the same spot. So put the charging base near the spot where you sit and you’ll never have to worry. To give some perspective, I still use a 10 year old Logitech remote in one of the rooms in my home and the battery is so worn out that it lasts about 30 minutes out of the cradle…but it’s never been a problem. I just have the cradle next to my spot on the couch.

The upright charging cradle is one of those small usability details that Logitech tends to do really well.

That being said, the battery on the Elite is really good. You can use this thing fairly regularly for almost two days before you need to get it back in the charger.

One improvement Logitech has made over some of its older models is the stand up charging stand. The older Logitech remotes has a cradle where the remote would sit in it laying flat, the same way you would lay a remote on a table. The new cradle has the remote standing up.

It may seem like a minor detail, but it can make a big difference when the table next to your couch is a little crowded. This design takes up a lot less space and makes it much easier to grab. Anything that means more space to put the nachos during a game is a huge plus in my book!

My Overall Impression

The Harmony Elite is about as good as it gets for home theater remotes. It’s the one I use in my primary home theater space and I can’t think of a function that I need that it doesn’t have (it’s going to be a while before I can find a remote that will get me a beer so for now this is perfect).

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.

Logitech Ultimate Home

The Harmony Ultimate Home should really be considered the predecessor to the Harmony Elite rather than a lesser model. It has just about all the features as the Elite and you can likely find it for a significant discount over the Elite.

But the important question is, where does it fall short of the Elite and does that matter?

The box contains the Hub, two IR blasters, charging cradle, two AC adapters, micro USB cable, and the remote.

As you can see by the comparison table above, it is very similar to the Elite as far as its feature set. However, it is actually being discontinued by Logitech. So you should be able to find it as lower prices very soon. Check out the latest discounts on the Ultimate Home by clicking HERE.

Ultimate Home Hub

The Ultimate Home also includes a hub that is just about identical to the one that comes with the Elite. One distinction is that the Ultimate Home remote and hub communicate with each other via a proprietary radio frequency (RF) signal. However, functionally, this won’t make much of a difference as they both have Bluetooth connectivity.

Contrary to a lot of online reviews, neither the Ultimate Home nor the Elite remotes are able to use Radio Frequency (“RF”) to directly control components. So if that is a necessary requirement for you, you may have to look elsewhere or see if your component has other methods of control.

I could not find any decisive answers from Logitech but it does appear that you can use the remotes interchangeably with each hub. The Elite would simply use Bluetooth to connect with it.

Smart Home Compatibility

So as far as smart home compatibility, IR blasting to multiple devices, and using your smart phone to control devices, it’s all pretty much the same. If you like to use your phone in conjunction with the hub to control your devices, then the app on your phone will be identical.

So if you are more interested in using the hub’s functionality through a smart home device like Alexa or your smartphone, then don’t bother with the more expensive Elite. You can get the same functionality from the Ultimate Home (and at a lower price point).

Where The Ultimate Home Falls Short

The big difference from the Elite is in the ergonomics of the remote itself.

Layout

One of the biggest complaints about the Ultimate Home is the positioning of the playback buttons. For some reason, Logitech decided to place them above the touch screen. This means that every time you want to hit pause, fast forward, play, etc…you have to hold the remote right at the top. Aside from being awkward, you’ll end up accidentally hitting the touch screen.

It may not seem like much at first, but that can get quite annoying. Especially since now, with DVRs being built into almost every cable box, we spend a lot of time fast forwarding through commercials.

The Ultimate Home also lacks physical buttons for smart home devices like lights. You can still access them through the touch screen but it takes more presses and is an overall less simple experience than with the Elite.

Battery

One downside to the Ultimate is that the battery is not replaceable. If you intend to keep the remote for a very long time then this may become an issue.

Having used Logitech universal remotes for many years, I will say that the battery does lose capacity over the years (like any battery in any device). However, it does take a long time for any noticeable decline in capacity.

Also, the fact that you’ll be storing it in the cradle most of the time means that you can get away with lower capacity if you just remember to put it back when you’re done. Of course, this isn’t as ideal as getting a new battery in there, but it’s really not a huge deal for most people.

My Overall Impression

This is still a great remote. If the ergonomic issues aren’t really a concern for you then you can now get a tremendously full featured smart remote at a really good price while it’s still around. Eventually there won’t be too many more out there so if that’s what you want to do, I wouldn’t wait.

You can check out more details, customer reviews, and the latest prices of the Ultimate Home on Amazon by clicking HERE.

Frequently Asked Questions

These are some of the most common questions we get about these two remotes. If you have a question, please leave it in the comments below and we’ll research the answer and possibly even post it here.

Q: Which remote is less expensive, the Harmony Elite or Ultimate Home?

The Ultimate Home can be found online, including here on Amazon, for significantly less than the Elite. The primary reason is that the Elite is the newer model and the Ultimate Home is currently discontinued by Logitech.

Q: Do both devices function the same with the Amazon Alexa/Echo?

Yes. As long as you get the version of the Ultimate Home which includes the Harmony Hub, then you will be able to connnect with and control your Amazon Echo and use Alexa to control your device.

Q: Can I use the Ultimate Home to control components that are behind a cabinet in my home entertainment setup?

Yes. As long as the package you purchase includes the hub and the IR Blasters, you’ll be able to set it up to send an IR signal to the components behind cabinet doors.

Q: Do any other Harmony remotes work with the Amazon Alexa/Echo?

You can use Alexa with any Logitech remote that is compatible with the Harmony Hub (it is actually the hub that connects to the Echo, not the remote itself). As of the time of writing this, the following remotes can be used with the harmony hub:

  • Harmony Elite
  • Harmony Ultimate Home (with the hub)
  • Harmony 950 (IF you buy the hub separately…they are not sold together)

Conclusion

These are both great options.

If you are looking for a deal, then definitely check out the Ultimate Home. Prices on that model are starting to drop significantly and you can get virtually of the same features of the Elite for a lot less money.

However, if you want the best and are willing to pay for it, then get the Elite. The ergonomics are better and it has the added ability to control smart home lights and other devices with physical buttons.

Do you have a Harmony Elite or Ultimate Home? Share your thoughts on the device in the comments below.

You can also check out my comparison of Logitech’s more affordable models in this comparison of the 650, 665, and 700 or my comparison of the Elite and 950 remotes.

For a great home theater projector, this guide has the best one at every price range.

Looking for more cool gadgets for your home bar, game room, or man cave…check out this list of my favorites.

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