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This is a rerun of a deal I shared back in February. Although it was $10 less at the time, it was also refurbished — and I think for a sophisticated piece of electronics like this, people tend to prefer new.
What’s on your coffee table? If it’s anything like mine, it holds a decor-busting mess of remotes. TV remote. Cable remote. Roku remote. Sound bar remote.
Sure, sometimes you can consolidate one or two, but the more stuff you add to your entertainment center, the greater the clicker clutter.
How about one remote to rule them all? That’s the idea behind Logitech’s Harmony line, which has long offered to control all your devices. But is that really worth, say, $350?
For a limited time, and while supplies last, Best Buy has the Logitech Harmony Ultimate Home universal remote for $169.99. Shipping is free, but you can’t escape sales tax. Even so, this model lists for $350, and the best price I’ve seen for a new one is around $220.
This is one of Logitech’s flagship Harmonys, 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. You can program it to control various smart-home gear, like Philips Hue lights and the Nest thermostat. 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 — irksome). Now you use an Android or iOS app and your phone ortablet to set everything up. This is much, much easier.
I speak from experience: I’ve been using the Ultimate Home for the past five months or so. It took me around 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 warned that it won’t be a perfect remote experience. (Is there such a thing?)
Bonus deal: Are you maker? Sorry, I mean a “Maker.” By which I mean someone who likes to build and/or tinker with electronics? Then here’s a deal you won’t want to miss: the Humble Book Bundle – Electronics Presented by Make lets you name your own price ($1 or more) for six electronics-oriented Make books, or pay $15 or more for the complete collection of 17 books (all digital and DRM-free). You’ll get them in ePub, Mobi and PDF formats, so you can read them on just about any device with a screen.