Logitech Harmony Elite Review: The Ultimate Universal Remote?

Design & Build Quality

The Harmony Elite doesn't deviate from the overall design of its predecessor, and instead improves upon it with some subtle changes and a few new buttons.

Familiar Design

Logitech Harmony Elite

Logitech stuck with a traditional rectangular form factor with rounded edges. This time around, the only physical button up top is the Off button -- pressing it powers down all of the equipment that was turned on with the most recent activity. So, if you last pressed Watch TV and it turned on your television, set-top box, and surround receiver, all three will be turned off when pressing the Off button.

One of the subtle changes I really appreciate about the Harmony Elite is the new location of the playback buttons. Previously the playback controls were located above the LCD display, but on the Harmony Elite, they're more conveniently accessible on the lower half of the remote. Now there's no more adjusting my grip to pause a movie or fast forward through a commercial, I can reach these buttons (and all the rest) with my thumb.

Logitech Harmony Elite LCD

The top portion is dedicated to a 2.4-inch color LCD. This is where you tap on activities that you've configured into the remote. You can also access individual devices, alter settings, punch in specific channels, view a list of favorite channels for quick access, and more.

Using the touchscreen to jump to specific channels and other tasks means looking down at the remote. There's really no way around this -- you can attempt to memorize the location of certain controls, but that only works if you know which menu is displayed, and even then it's not as easy as finding a specific physical button.

Let There Be Light!

Logitech Harmony Elite Bottom Buttons

Not only did Logitech move the playback controls to the lower half of the Harmony Elite, it also added two new rows for lighting and other home control devices. These buttons can be used to turn on the lights and adjust brightness, among other functions. How you use them, if at all, will depend on your setup.

Since Logitech doesn't offer a line of smart home gear for lighting and temperature controls, the buttons for these operations are generic, albeit mappable to specific tasks and functions. At present, the Harmony Elite works with SmartThings, INSTEON, and IFTTT smart home platforms and can control connected home devices such as lights, smart locks, and thermostats.

The neat thing about tapping into your home controls is the ability to create and combine different activities. You could create a 'Good Night' activity that turns off the lights, locks the doors, and lowers your blinds, or a 'Romantic' activity that dims the lights and plays your slow jams, to give just two examples. Cool stuff.

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