Not Just a Replacement for Lost Remotes
Counting your TV, your cable box, your stereo, your soundbar and your streaming- video device, you probably have at least half a dozen remote controls cluttering your coffee table. A universal remote lets you control all of your equipment with just a single wand.
Not only does a universal clicker make your living room a lot nicer to look at, but you’ll no longer have to hunt down AA batteries as often. Some advanced remotes will also let you control smart-home devices, so you can dim the lights when you start watching a movie, and not have to leave the couch.
However, when it comes to universal remotes, the choices are less than universal. Logitech’s line of Harmony remotes are pretty much the only ones available, and worth purchasing. Fortunately, the company sells several models — all rated highly on Amazon — which vary in price based on features.
Logitech Harmony 665
A Best Buy exclusive, the black Logitech Harmony 665 has a small display with buttons arrayed around it, letting you quickly access activities, favorite channels and more. On-screen help makes it fairly easy to troubleshoot any issues. However, the Harmony 665 works via infrared (IR) only, so you can’t hide any of your entertainment center’s components, and this remote can’t be used to control smart-home devices.
What Owners Are Saying
While the Harmony 665 is only available through Best Buy, its predecessor, the Harmony 650 (which is essentially the same, but can only control 8 devices) has been reviewed by more than 8,000 individuals on Amazon, who gave it 4 out of 5 stars. More than 90 percent of those reviews are accurate, according to the reviews analysis site Fakespot.
Credit: Logitech“The software is very very intuitive,” said one customer. “Simply plug in the remote to your computer and then enter the model number of your TV, Cable Box, Receiver, etc... and the remote walks you through what each system does and when.
Another was pleasantly surprised by the 650’s display. “Before I purchased it I was concerned that the smaller screen would be a problem, but it turns out that the hardware buttons on top make up easily for the smaller screen.”
Logitech Harmony Elite
Logitech’s top-end remote, the aptly named Elite, can control up to 15 devices at once.
In addition to physical buttons, it has a color touch screen from which you can quickly select a favorite channel. You can also create custom buttons, such as Watch a Movie, to automatically turn all your devices to the right settings. The Elite works in conjunction with the Harmony Hub (included), enabling you to hide electronics in a cabinet. It also works with several smart-home devices, including Philips Hue lights and the ecobee4 thermostat. Plus, it can be connected with Amazon Alexa, so that you can issue Harmony Elite commands using nothing but your voice.
What Owners Are Saying
The Harmony Elite averaged 4 out of 5 stars among the 600-plus Amazon reviews. More than 80 percent of those reviews are legit, according to Fakespot.com, which uses algorithms to determine whether owner reviews are fake.
Credit: LogitechThose who wrote reviews on Amazon generally praised the Elite’s comprehensiveness, but noted there’s a bit of a learning curve. “It takes awhile to figure out all its capabilities but after you realize how it can control pretty much all your entertainment needs, it's wonderful,” said one reviewer.
Another person, who rated the remote 3 out of 5, took some issue with its ergonomics. “When you hold the remote it's rather difficult to reach the touch screen and some of the buttons with your thumb...The smart home buttons on the bottom of the remote are a nice touch, but I feel they’re a bit more of a novelty than a necessity since there are plenty of other standalone switches & voice control devices that can do the same job.”
Logitech Harmony Companion
Similar to the Harmony Elite, the Harmony Companion can also control smart-home devices in addition to your entertainment center. The biggest difference is the Companion’s lack of a screen of any kind, so you’ll have to designate physical buttons to enable Watch TV mode, for instance. It, too, comes with the Harmony Hub, allowing you to not only hide components, but also let you use Alexa to control your TV and more.
What Owners Are Saying
The Harmony Companion received 3.5 out of 5 stars from Amazon customers, some of whom liked it more than the pricier Harmony Elite. Of the reviews on Amazon, more than 90 percent are accurate, according to Fakespot.com.
Credit: LogitechThis is a really fantastic universal remote system, especially if you have home automation devices like lights or blinds,” said one reviewer. “Adding the Home Control buttons towards the top made them shift the play/pause section down lower where your thumb naturally rests...In fact, this shift is why I would recommend this remote over the Smart Control even for users without home automation devices to control.”
The biggest complaint was the lack of backlit keys. “The only downfall is the key pad has no backlight,” said one reviewer. It’s difficult to see the correct button to push when it is dark in the room.”
New & Notable
Logitech's least expensive remote lets you control up to eight devices, and favorite five channels. While it lacks a screen like the 665, it will let you start your entertainment center with the push of a single button. It lacks smart home controls, so consumers who want to dim their lights using a TV remote should look to one of Logitech's more expensive options.