CNET's Cheapskate scours the Web for great deals on PCs, phones, gadgets and much more. Questions about the Cheapskate blog? Find the answers on our FAQ page. And find more great buys on the CNET Deals page.
TV remote. DVR remote. Roku remote. Sound bar remote.
That's a lot of remotes cluttering up your coffee table. Sure, sometimes you can consolidate one or two, but the more stuff you add to your entertainment center, the bigger the remote hassle.
How about one remote to bind them? That's the idea behind Logitech's Harmony line, which has long offered to control all your devices from a single clicker. Often, rather expensive single clickers.
Today only, and while supplies last, Woot has the refurbished Logitech Harmony Ultimate universal remote for $159.99, plus $5 for shipping. It lists for $350, and the best price I've seen for a new one is around $220.
This is Logitech's flagship Harmony, with just about every feature and wireless technology imaginable: Bluetooth, IR, RF and Wi-Fi. Its hub includes two IR blasters, meaning you can tuck it away inside a cabinet. And the remote itself recharges in a stand-up dock, by far the best possible power solution.
If you've used one of these in the past, you'll be glad to know that Logitech's clunky desktop utility is no longer the required method of programming the remote (though it's still an option, and definitely required to update the firmware -- grrrr). Now you use an Android or iOS app and your phone or tablet to set everything up. This is much, much easier.
Sounds like I speak from experience, no? Yes: As coincidence would have it, I just deployed one of these last weekend. (And paid more for mine -- double-grrrr.) It took probably 40 minutes to get everything configured properly, and it was occasionally frustrating. But now it's all good, and I'm mostly happy with the Harmony.
Just mostly? Let me refer you to CNET's review (which, incidentally, doesn't reflect the aforementioned firmware updates) for a rundown of all the features and options, along with some dings. I'll echo those: The location of the transport controls (near the top) is annoying, and it's inconceivable to me that Logitech left out dedicated quick-skip and quick-reverse buttons. That makes TiVo control a little more cumbersome.
Very often, a universal remote is a trade-off: You get to put away all the other remotes, but you also have to work around buttons and layout that weren't designed for your gear. The more gear you have, the more likely you are to appreciate the Harmony's consolidation. Just be prepared that it won't be a perfect remote experience.
Bonus deal: Fans of graphic novels (aka comics), break out your wallets: The Humble Comics Bundle includes picture-books from the likes of Tom Clancy, Dean Koontz, Kevin Smith, Neil Gaiman and some guy called George R.R. Martin. A mere $15 buys you the entire collection, with a portion supporting very worthwhile charities. The comics are all DRM-free and available in a variety of formats for reading on the device(s) of your choice.