On The Logitech Harmony Smart Control
Water spilled on the venerable Harmony 550 Remote, so I purchased the Logitech Harmony Smart Control as a replacement. Thoughts:
- Less buttons. At this moment, our only components are an Apple TV, Blu-Ray player, and a Sony sound bar. Still, one complication of the old remote was having to press “activities” then another button (yes, that was too complicated). Now the activities are mapped to the top row of buttons.
- Better hardware. The buttons on the simple remote control are hard plastic with a satisfying click, and the rounded edges feel better in the hand.
- Control devices within an entertainment unit. The Smart Control comes with a “Harmony Hub” that includes what I believe it termed an “IR blaster” with a tiny “eye” attached via a cable. So you can place the blaster in your cabinet along with all your boxes, and then stick the eye in front of your TV or wherever else you prefer to point the remote.
- The Harmony Hub connects to your home WiFi network, which allows for smart phone control and settings storage in the cloud. Well, in theory at least, this is good…
- Software. Awkward. The old Harmony remote synced to a desktop app in which you tweaked settings, but that’s all been replaced with an iPhone app and the My Harmony website, both of which are less than polished. There is no iPad app, which should be a no-brainer what with the larger screen. The My Harmony website, which uses Silverlight and I couldn’t get to work using Safari. So my initial set up was needlessly frustrating. It’s the right choice to move away from the PC and store settings in the cloud / mobile, but the awkward software makes it seem like a lateral move at best and at worst, a downgrade instead of the improvement it should be.
Looking over my previous review of the Harmony 550, I wrote “be prepared for some frustration in the initial stages as you get it set up.” I hoped this wouldn’t be the case this time around, but unfortunately they arose once again, as I ran into the limitations of the iPhone app and the clunkiness of the website.
The clunky software brings the improved hardware down, which underlines Apple’s excellence in both departments. If the Apple TV proper ever arrives, one can assume it’ll have a great remote, and possibly one that renders the Harmony smart remote concept pointless.