CNET First Look
Harmony Home Control: The best universal remote for the moneyAt $150 the new Harmony Home Control may seem a bit steep for a universal remote, but its combination of easier setup and well-implemented control make it well worth the money for people with complex home theater systems.
[MUSIC] Hi, I'm David Katzmaler from CNET.com and I'm here with the Harmony home control. This is Harmony's latest universal remote system that actually controls some home automation products now, but it's pretty much the same as the Harmony smart control that we liked so much last year. This really is a great system, so I'll get into it a little bit. First it comes with this remote control, which is really nice to hold in the hand. Its nice medium size. Button arrangement is really nice to use on this remote. And I really appreciate that is uses these small watch batteries. So that it actually lasts, battery life wise, for about a year, which is excellent. You don't have to replace the batteries on this remote pretty much ever. The other component of this system is the hub. This little thing is actually the brains of the operation. It uses WiFi, Bluetooth, and even infrared to control all your devices and also interface with your home network and work with a third component of the system which is the Harmony App. So you can actually use the app just like a remote control to play, pause, change channels, that sort of thing. But we really prefer the physical remote compared to the app cuz, one thing, you don't have to look down at the screen to choose buttons. You can just use it by feel. And the app itself is a little bit bulky to use on a daily basis. So again, the app is really, mainly should, if you loose the remote in the couch cushions or something like that. The idea behind the hub is to control your entire system by blasting IR commands all over the room. It works flawlessly, in our experience. The response time is excellent. And it really makes the entire system really easy to use. You don't have to point the remote at the screen to get it to work. You can kind of, even walk across the house and have the, the system turn on or off, which is really convenient. One nice thing is Harmony setup has been greatly improved, so it's a lot easier to get all of your devices added to the system and get all of your activities added. So once you add a Watch TV activity, for example, you can just press that button on the remote. Everything fires up, turns to the correct input and works beautifully. Again the app is sort of a weak point in terms of setup, we did run into some issues with forced closes, and some things not working perfectly. It's a little bit rough around the edges, but we do expect Harmony to improve the app in time. All told, the system is really easy to use and set up, and well worth $150 in extra ease and control that it provides compared to a. Table full of remote controls. Or a standard universal remote that doesn't use this nice, hub system. The other addition Harmony made to this system is the ability to control home automation devices, including lights, blinds, thermostats, that sort of thing. On this little remote, there's only a few keys devoted to that kinda control, so most of it will take place during the app. If you want that kind of expanded control of those systems, you might wanna check out the Harmony Ultimate, which provides a touchscreen that provides a lot more control of those types of devices. That's a quick look at the Harmony Home Control. I'm David Katzmaier from CNET. [MUSIC]