Thursday, June 9, 2016

Father's Day Gift Idea - Logitech Harmony Elite


Each year, usually around early June, search engines across the world all handle the same request - "Gift Ideas for Father's Day." You'll find a ton across the web ranging from BBQ equipment to beer glasses to weird tchotchkes that your father/husband could find charming. I decided to stay away from those this year. Instead, the one gift idea I'm doing is a sort of review of a product that I was able to review thanks to Logitech. The product is the Logitech Harmony Elite Universal Remote. Calling it just a universal remote though is selling it a very short. I had never really dived into multi use controllers before and I was surprised to see just how functional they are. This is a premium product though with a premium price tag, so this will only be for the nerdiest of nerdy dads out there. But, if your father/husband has a ton of tech gadgets in his house, this will be one product that will make his Father's Day extremely special.

So, what is the Logitech Harmony Elite? It's a universal remote that can control almost everything in your house that is connected to the internet. Video game consoles, your PC, smart thermostats, smart blinds, smart lights throughout the house; all of these things can be controlled by this device and much more. Taking the product out of the box you'll immediately see how it works. Your first step upon opening will be to connect the hub to a wall outlet and then using your smartphone, download the Logitech Harmony app. With the app, you can then begin connecting the hub to your WiFi in your home. Setup is a breeze and getting the device to connect to my WiFi was instantaneous and I was adding devices shortly after. The Harmony Elite will auto find devices that are on your network, and actually found all but 2 of my devices I was going to add.

The contents of the box immediately after opening

My first step upon setting up my remote was getting all of my devices to be recognized. As I started before, all of my devices including my Smart TV, RoKu, Xbox One, and Cable Box were all picked up just fine. The two that weren't included my Sony PS4 and Nintendo Wii U. To get these setup, all I had to do was pair the device, much like you would with a typical controller for each system. Once paired, the remote worked just like a controller would by allowing you to navigate and even showed device specific touch screen controls on the remote. With each device successfully connected to the remote, you can now set up activities that you can kick off with the press of a button. This is where the real fun begins with the Harmony Elite.

Activities is where the remote truly shines. You can use your remote to control the TV, select a movie, fast forward, etc. but that's only half the fun. Programming an activity in a sort of mock coding exercising allows you to setup precise commands to be implemented. For instance, let's say you want to press a button and have your TV turn on, switch to the HDMI port that controls your Roku, then start Netflix, and set the volume to the level you like. You can do that. How about press a button to turn on the TV, start up your Xbox One console, sign you in, and then get you ready to play the latest game? You can do that as well. There is a nifty on screen tool that allows you to do simple commands like turning on different inputs and performing basic actions, but the possibilities for intricate combinations are also present. There are a ton of online users who have posted both to the Logitech user forums and others through the web with detailed instructions on how to get your activities tailored to your exact specifications. Some of these get pretty involved too, so I'm excited to see what other things I can do with this remote. If you have blinds that are connected to the internet as well as lights in the house, you could set up a routine that would open the blinds and dim lights to let in sunlight when you get home from work. Or do the opposite as you prepare for bed. Depending on the level of your household connectivity, the possibilities are truly endless. With more and more devices becoming "smart" in the future, this device is primed and ready to handle them as they hit the market and become more mainstream.

The Harmony app allows you to control all of your devices from your phone

The Harmony Elite from Logitech is truly the only remote you'll ever need for all of your devices. If you or your loved one have embraced the more connected nature of newer devices, this one remote will control them all and give you the flexibility to program to your heart's content. I had a blast reviewing this product and in doing so, it has become a permanent fixture in my home. If I'm too far away from the remote in it's docking station, I just pull out my phone and use it to control all of the devices in my home. I can't say enough positive things about the remote and it's ability to control everything with one device. The only negative, and this may sway many of you that aren't fully on board with "smart" devices is the price tag. The Logitech Harmony Elite retails at $349.99, but some online retailers like Amazon have it for around $300.

Father's Day is coming up on Sunday, June 19th and if your father/husband is a big tech guy like I am, you can't go wrong with the Logitech Harmony Elite. Just be prepared for dad to go into the basement and hide for the rest of the day as he excitedly programs all of his devices into the remote. It's his day though, let him have that time to nerd out, he deserves it.

* I was sent a review unit to testfrom Logitech and received no compensation for this post. All words are my own.

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