As you know, I like my tech. In our house, I'm often a little embarrassed when a babysitter comes over, trying to explain the 5 remote controls needed simply to use the television; but after a few recent "Holly, where have you hidden the remote control this time?" episodes, I've fallen a bit out of love with my remote controls. This week I have been trialing a solution to my remote control issues - the Harmony Ultimate Hub from Logitech which can turn your smart phone or tablet into a universal remote control.
The Harmony Hub operates using a combination of your home Wi-Fi and Bluetooth technologies. If you have a device you want to control which is a little further away from your hub, it can also operate using an additional Infra-red booster (the mini blaster!). Most of our tech resides in our living room within close proximity of our Harmony hub, and our Wi-Fi router so set-up was phenomenally easy.
Other than having to scrabble around behind my BT Vision box and television in order to find the model numbers, it was a stress-free experience setting up the Harmony Ultimate Hub. You need to set up a harmony account first and then after that you can add upto 8 different devices - in our case the television, BT vision box, blu-ray player, surround sound, XBox and AppleTV.
In the past I've always been wary of traditional "universal" TV remote controls because I've found a physical remote to offer some iffy IR coverage and I've been regularly disappointed. The beauty of the Harmony Ultimate is that your phone or your tablet becomes the physical remote control so you can use a tool that you are comfortable with (and proud of). My tablet is always here with me in the evenings when I'm blogging so I always have it to hand... unlike the remote.
Losing remotes is a common problem in our house. The AppleTV remote is a particularly annoying remote control because it is tiny, slips down the side of the sofa, is great as a kitchen utensil in Holly's toy kitchen, and because without it, the Apple TV is unworkable. I've already had to replace it once already. Apple do supply their own remote control app but I can't begin to tell you how much easier it is to use the Harmony control app in comparison! As a big fan of Apple UIs, I find this weird, but true.
It is incredibly convenient to have all of your devices configurable in one place. If nothing else, I'm achieving MASSIVE time savings by being able to click one button "Watch Apple TV" rather than having to switch on the AppleTV and then change the TV AV channel (an additional 5 menu clicks in total). I think this ability to configure and switch quickly from one AV input to another is the most impressive part of the Logitech Harmony Ultimate Hub.
I've found the speed and responsiveness of the Harmony app to be great. Mr. B. has the app on his Android tablet, and I have it on my iPad and we're both really happy. Using the app you can change channel, select menu options, adjust volume, swipe up and down between channels and even fast forward (where appropriate).
Could this be the end of the remote control altogether???
The Logitech Harmony Ultimate Hub costs around £79.99 and is compatible with around 225,000 different home entertainment devices.