Harmony Smart Control Review

Discussion in 'Apple TV and Home Theater' started by boomhower, Jul 27, 2013.

  1. boomhower macrumors 68000


    Oct 21, 2011
    I put this here due to it being home theater based but mods feel free to move it if you feel it needs to be elsewhere.

    My dog ate my Harmony One so I needed a replacement remote for my home theater. This was recently released and is a nice hybrid of the available designs. Previously you have the choice of a regular universal remote or using your phone/ipad alone. This combines them. It comes with simple universal remote and allows the use of your iPhone/iPad as well.

    I comes with three pieces of hardware. The first is the hub. This is the main piece and is similar in size to an Apple TV. It performs two functions. First it receives inputs from your remote and idevices. It then outputs these commands to your devices. The hub connects to your network with wifi.

    Here's the catch with the hardware side. You have to "see" the devices you want to control. If they are within the same contained space then your fine. If your cabinet has separate spaces you can run into some issues. The system comes with one remote blaster. The hub itself acts as a blaster. Essentially you'l use the hub to blast your devices and the remote blaster for your TV. If you have a seperate space with equipment you can buy a second blaster. I had to consolidate how my equipment was arranged to have everything in two cabinets, my DVR and streaming devices in one and my receiver in a second. Previously they were in three but it works out. Just keep this in mind if you need to buy a second blaster before you get started, I already had one from my Harmony One.

    Also this will control your PS3 via bluetooth. You no longer need an additional piece of hardware like with other Harmony remotes, it is native now.

    There are two ways to set-up the system. The first is with the iOS app and the second is via a computer. I set mine up with the iOS app. I have used the webapp software on the computer with the Harmony One and while it works it's kinda jinky. I'm not a fan of it.

    But the set-up via iOS app was a breeze. Just follow the prompts and as long as you give it the right info everything will work the first time. I had it up and running very very quickly.

    Macros work perfectly. One button press and you can have all the equipment turn on and set to the proper input. Very very nice but not Earth shattering or new. What is new from old Harmony is you can rename them. So now I have Apple TV rather than "Watch a Movie", I like that a lot.

    The hardware remote is good enough for 99% of your usage. You can use up to six macros with it. It has all of your common controls for movie watching and DVR use. Only thing I've found missing is a "Live" button for your DVR TV viewing, not a big deal and I rarely use it anyhow. Just fast forward. Biggest downside is it is does not have backlit keys.

    The iOS app is surprisingly good considering how new it is. Looks wise it fits with the current iOS theme of things. Initially you get a screen with all your macros for you to choose what you want to do. It then goes to a screen with the applicable controls. There are dots at the bottom to show how many screens of controls are there. Typically one for arrow controls, second with numbers, and third with play/pause/ff/etc. All main controls are available here.

    Another cool feature is a favorites button. A little star is at the bottom for your favorites and you set-up your favorite TV channels here. It shows them with the network icon, very nice.

    Main thing they need to do is a dedicated iPad app where they could combine all controls into one screen with the added real estate, right now it's just an iPhone app.

    In conclusion I feel it is an outstanding value. For $129 it's cheaper than a Harmony One with more utility. For me it's the ultimate compromise. A software only solution is not ideal, for instance I like to be able to just pick up a remote and adjust volume by feel. But one the other hand the added functionality that the iOS software brings is cool too. More features for less money is always good in my book. It should only get better as they develop the app more. It's an easy buy recommendation from me.

    My hardware:
    Panasonic Plasma
    Yamaha RX-V473 receiver
    DirecTV Genie
    Apple TV
    Western Digit Live TV media streamer
    Playstation 3
  2. linds15 macrumors 6502a

    Oct 16, 2012
    Great White North
    Nice review, had to take apart and sell/donate my setup but when I rebuild I'd like into this.
  3. rikscha macrumors 6502a

    Mar 8, 2010
    Can you power the hub through USB? It would be great if I wouldn't need to connect it to the wall socket. Also, it is a shame that the remote doesn't come with an IR function. If it had IR, I wouldn't need any IR blaster at all which makes a cleaner setup. Btw, reason why Hifi equipment is not using RF out of the box? Is it the power consumption?
  4. brentsg macrumors 68040

    Oct 15, 2008
    It's about time they released something to replace the Harmony One.
  5. boomhower thread starter macrumors 68000


    Oct 21, 2011
    The Touch came out last year which was more or less a replacement for the One. This is considerably more. The ultimate kit includes the touch remote the basic kit just has a basic remote. I don't see the need for the Touch remote with the ability to use your phone or tablet it seems redundant and a waste of money.

    It should. The power is just a micro USB cord and I used the included wall adaptor. I don't have a close by USB port to test it.

    For RF I imagine it's cost. Pretty much the only difference between the 900 and One was RF and the cost when released wasn't insignificant.

    After a few days use it's been absolutely perfect. i'm still in love with it.
  6. brentsg macrumors 68040

    Oct 15, 2008
    To me the Touch came close to the old One, but didn't quite get there. That's just my opinion of course.

    This seems to finally move beyond the One. The downside of course, is family acceptance. I would be happy to use my phone or tablet but there's no way the wife or kids will do this.
  7. boomhower thread starter macrumors 68000


    Oct 21, 2011
    I agree, it want a true replacement. The simple remote is good enough for 95% or better of usage. For your sit down and watch a movie or TV it does the trick. You can program six different macros and all the controls are there. The inky thing I've found missing is a live button which isn't a huge deal, just fast forward. To me the biggest downside if it is that it's not back lit.
  8. blueroom macrumors 603


    Feb 15, 2009
    Toronto, Canada
    Interesting device, I'm looking at picking one up.
    What worries me, Harmony for sale by Logitech (future support?) and the needlessly rigid + inflexible harmony remote software.
  9. blujacket macrumors newbie

    Jul 5, 2013
    The One is the best remote I have ever owned, and will be a sad day when it dies. I prefer hard buttons to touch screens. I hope Harmony will come out with an exact replacement in the future.
  10. Weaselboy Moderator


    Staff Member

    Jan 23, 2005
    Harmony/Logitech recently announced Harmony is no longer for sale and Logitech is keeping it. I suspect the success of all these newer remote versions made them reconsider.
  11. tobefirst macrumors 68040


    Jan 24, 2005
    St. Louis, MO
    I've used the Harmony Link (the predecessor to this line of products) for about a year now, and though getting it setup just right was finicky (I have my components in a closet), it is now working pretty flawlessly. With the Link, I have no hardware remotes– just phones and tablets. It's working great.
  12. blueroom, Jul 31, 2013
    Last edited: Jul 31, 2013

    blueroom macrumors 603


    Feb 15, 2009
    Toronto, Canada
    Or they couldn't find a buyer.

    Just trying to load the harmony software for OSX. edit: looks the same.
    Installing the iOS app, good grief no iPad version?
  13. brentsg macrumors 68040

    Oct 15, 2008
    I'm in exactly this boat. If they briefly offered the One for sale I'd stock up on them.

    My mom recently got a new home theater setup and I couldn't make myself pay $250 for something that didn't quite meet expectations.
  14. boomhower thread starter macrumors 68000


    Oct 21, 2011
    It is very good. I'm curious as to whether the sales have been declining due to lower priced alternatives available with the prevalence of smartphones.

    There is no need to use the OS X software with this set-up, the app is all you need. I completely and whole heartedly agree that no iPad app is a serious error. I'm hoping it's in development and they launched with only the iPhone app to get it to market sooner. I have no real complaints about the iPhone app, it works well. The iPad app is needed to compliment it though.

    That's why I bought this. I just couldn't pay north of $200 for a remote. I got my first on a deal as a refurb but for full price I couldn't do it. Kinda worked out though, for me I like this a lot better.
  15. blueroom macrumors 603


    Feb 15, 2009
    Toronto, Canada
    I've had it for a day and I'm warming up to it. The hardware is just right, with the right software it could be the perfect remote.

    Base: WiFi, Bluetooth, IR built in plus two IR blaster outs. USB is only for setup (an eHome USB remote option would be fantastic). You place it in line of sight of the devices you want to control.

    Remote: Bluetooth, runs on a watch battery for about a year according to the manual. Solidly built, nice ergonomics, slim. Long and Short button press modes are an interesting feature.

    App: not bad, but I'm more a hard button remote guy.

    Software is a big improvement over last years (when I used it last).

    I think it's a keeper so far.
  16. JohnLT13 macrumors 6502a


    Dec 9, 2012
    Boston (aka Red Sox Nation)
    I just picked up the Harmony Touch after my Harmony One was destroyed, long story:eek: I was a bit concerned at first as I have spent many hours programing the One to my needs. I was excited to find using the Harmony web site I can swap all functions to my new remote. After doing so my Apple TV would not respond, back to reprogramming. After quite some time I all but gave up but then discovered this little gem in the ATV settings that ive never seen before. Settings/General/Remotes/Learn Remote. Made my life a lot easier.
    Not sure if this is new but figured id share anyway. BTW the Touch is a fantastic remote but is a little smaller then i would like. I have also deleted most of the features on the touch screen as I find most to be useless for what I need. The gesture feature is nice and have it set for basic things like volume up and down, pause and play.
  17. CTay macrumors member

    Apr 18, 2013
    Picked one of these up this past weekend. So far, I love it. Set up with the app was good. I had to adjust the delay settings for my AV receiver but once dailed in... perfect. I would recommend to anyone.

    I plan to move all of my components into the attic for a clean look. My only problem is the blaster cord isn't long enough to run through the walls, up to the ideal location. I found a 6ft extension on ebay, which would force me to buy 3 of them to make it work. I don't suppose it isn't too bad.

    I am looking forward to hiding all components and only see the tv. This is the main reason for the upgrade.

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