From our experience, the only thing universal about universal remotes is that they are universally frustrating. Granted, we’ve seen some good one’s come along, but then technology moves past them and we’re right back to square one. But now Logitech is on to something that does away with the remote control entirely by transforming your mobile devices into the ultimate control device. This August, Logitech will introduce the Harmony Ultimate Hub, turning iPhones and Android phones into universal remotes.
The Ultimate Hub includes both the Harmony Ultimate and Harmony Smart Control, and the idea is to consolidate all remote controls into one smartphone app. The app would be able to control up to eight devices from anywhere in the home. It will have the added benefit of being compatible with the Harmony Touch by turning its RF signals into IR and Bluetooth commands.
The Hub was originally offered as part of the Harmony Ultimate and Smart Control products, but this will be the first time consumers can opt to buy it as a standalone device. This proves to be a much cheaper alternative at $100, compared to the $350 price tag for the previous bundle.
The hub can turn any iPhone or Android phone into a universal remote, negating the need to have a specific remote for any of your home theater devices. The Harmony currently supports 225,000 devices, and is capable of controlling streaming services played back on video game consoles and other set top boxes.
Logitech also announced that it will retain ownership of the Harmony product line, saying that it’s in the best interest of shareholders, but also because the company says the lineup has received renewed interest since the Harmony Ultimate launched in April. This is a direct reversal of what was expected to happen back in January.
This launch marks one of the few times a product in the Harmony line is especially affordable, bringing the technology within reach of more consumers. The fact that there is such a strong smartphone component to this suggests that the bigger, more expensive Harmony remotes might be pushed aside in favor of smartphone and tablet integration.