When it comes to home entertainment one of the most important pieces of kit is the remote control. The remote control essentially serves as an extension of our arms allowing us to interact with our media from the comfort of our couches. The one major issue that we all face however is that as our home entertainment solutions expand we end up with half a dozen remote controls that we need to use just to sit down and watch a movie. The answer to this problem is an all in one remote control and this is where Logitech are the market leaders.
Logitech has been in the remote control game for over 10 years and have continued to improve upon their product design and feature sets of these remote controls in order to deliver what is widely accepted as the best the all-in-one remote controls in the world. Today we are going to take a look at one of Logitech’s newest Harmony remote controls, the Logitech Harmony Companion, so let’s jump straight in to the Logitech Harmony Companion review and see if they have managed to maintain their position as the market leader.
What the Heck is an All in One Remote Control Anyway?
An all in one remote control is pretty much what is says, it is one remote control that can control all of your devices. These remotes essentially allow you to pair your existing remote controls with the all in one control so that the one remote can control your television, DVD and media player for example, thus eliminating the need for 3 different remote controls.
Logitech Harmony Companion Review – Whats in the Box?
The Logitech Harmony Companion remote control was delivered packaged away inside a standard brown parcel box that kept the Harmony Companion nice and safe during shipping. Opening the box I was greeted by the sight of the stylish packaging that we have come to expect from other Logitech products.
The Logitech Harmony Companion box makes nice use of colour and imagery to create a great looking, modern bit of packaging. The mate white colouring of the front of the box allows the photo of the Companion remote control and app to stand out on the box, bringing it front and center to your attention. The great looking Logitech logo sits nicely towards the bottom of the box. The sides of the box employ a nice vibrant matte blue colour with the Harmony branding printed on the blue background in large font.
Turning the box to the rear you get a nice close up shot of the Companion remote control as well as icons that represent items found inside the box. There is a few paragraphs of test summarising the featured of the Harmony Companion remote.
Opening the box I found the following:
- Harmony Companion remote (with battery)
- Harmony Hub
- IR mini-blaster
- USB cable
- AC adapter
- User documentation
The Logitech Harmony Companion – A Premium Product
One of the most important aspects of a remote control is that it needs to fit comfortably in your hand, otherwise it is akin to walking around in shoes that are two sized too small. Logitech has taken great care when it comes to the product design of the Logitech Harmony Companion, ensuring that the experience is both comfortable and enjoyable whilst using the remote control. In additional to feeling great the Harmony Companion looks great as well, coming across as a very premium product, which is good considering it is a premium product at a premium price tag of $249.95AUD.
The Harmony Companion is made up of a great feeling semi soft touch plastic that has a great texture in your hand. The texture gives the remote control a nice bit of grip and doesn’t slide around in your hand at all. The remote control has a subtle curvature to it allowing it to sit nicely in your hand. I have medium sized hands and holding the remote in my hand I was able to reach all of the buttons easily without needing to stretch my thumb or shift the control around in my hand.
So, we’ve determined that the Harmony Companion both looks and feels great but what the buttons and functions? Once again Logitech have managed to hit the nail right on the head. The Harmony Companion comes with pretty much all of the buttons that you could need including:
- Activity shortcuts
- Philips hue (lighting)
- Smart power point control
- Favourite shortcuts
- TV Guide
- Multi directional control pad
- Channel select
- Media playback
- Numeric keypad
The brilliant thing about all of these buttons is that you can bind them to any function or action that you want using the intuitive Logitech Harmony software, and all of this is made possible because of the included Harmony Hub.
Harmony Hub – The Brain of the Operations
When it comes to the Logitech Harmony the real brains of the operation is the Harmony Hub. The Hub is responsible for sending all of the IR commands that control your devices which is accomplished courtesy of the inbuilt powerful IR blasters. The Hubs IR blasters are powerful enough to bounce the IR commands around the room and furniture ensuring that you don’t face any issues of signal loss. I currently have the Harmony Hub setup in the living area of an open plan house and I have not experience any issues with commands not reaching my devices.
If for any reason you do face issues of signal loss Logitech have included a separate wired IR blaster that you can connect to the HUB in order to extend the signal range to those hard to reach areas of your home entertainment setup. There is also an option to connect a second wired IR blaster should you ever have the need.
Although the Hub is designed to send IR commands flying around your house it is also able to send commands via Bluetooth to supported devices such as the Nintendo Wii U, PlayStation and a range of media players.
With the Logitech Harmony Hub being a critical piece of the Harmony product it’s important that it also looks good seeing as it sits front and centre on your home entertainment cabinet and Logitech understands this. The product design of the Harmony Hub looks modern and sleek and has a relatively small footprint ensuring that it doesn’t look out of place next to your devices. The Hub feels strong and sturdy and not constructed of cheap plastic which I appreciated.
Setup and Using the Harmony Companion… and the Companion App
The setup process of the Logitech Harmony Companion is very simple, thanks to the Harmony app that is available for iOS and Android. The app really does make what used to be quite a tricky task significantly easier. All you need to do is download the app for your phone and fire it up. Once you launch the app you are required to select Set Up New Hub which will guide you through the process of plugging the Harmony Hub into a power outlet, turning it on and then pairing the Hub to the Companion Remote Control.
Once the Hub is paired with the Companion Remote Control you are then required to enter your WiFi credentials so that the devices settings etc. can be synced up to your Harmony account. This allows you to make changes to the button configuration and import the profile using the Harmony software that you can download and install on your computer.
Now that the Hub has access to an active internet connection you are required to either create a new Harmony account or login to an existing account. If you have a previous Harmony remote control you are able to import any existing settings and activities should you wish to.
If you do not have any existing Harmony Remote Control you are now required to setup the Harmony Companion. The Harmony app attempts to detect any devices that you currently have connected on your network such as Bluetooth speakers and media players etc. If it is unable to automatically find any connected devices on your network you can manually add devices to the app, in my case my Nvidia Shield TV was found on my network and was added to the Harmony app.
Once you have connected to all the devices that you would like to control you are able to setup Activities using the Harmony app. Activities are essentially a set of commands that you bind to a button on the remote control that when pressed carries out a series of commands. One activity I setup allows me to press the power button on the remote control which turns on my Samsung TV, turns on the receiver and finally turns on the Nvidia Shield TV. The Harmony app will provide you with a list of pre-configured actions that you can used based on the device and you are also able to create your own actions using the easy to use wizard.
The entire setup process to be about 45 minutes to complete after which I was able to control my TV, Blu-ray player, receiver and Android TV using the Harmony Companion and eliminating the need of having to use 4 different remote controls.
For those that are looking to extend on the customisation options available for the Harmony Companion you can add a Flirc USB receiver into the mix which allows you to configure profiles for things such as Kodi and Plex. We shall be putting together a Flirc review shortly which will cover some of this functionality and how well it works with the Harmony remote.
Where to Buy
If you are interested in purchasing the Harmony Companion Remote Control you can do so over at the Logitech website.