Logitech has announced that it will no longer manufacture its popular line of Harmony universal remote controls. In a blog post published on April 9, a spokesperson for the company said, “While Harmony remotes are and continue to be available through various retailers, moving forward Logitech will no longer manufacture Harmony remotes.”
Over the years, Harmony remotes have become more and more capable, with the ability to control devices both inside and outside home theater setups, including a variety of Bluetooth and smart home devices like light bulbs and smart outlets.
But the one feature that Logitech never included was universal voice control. Virtually all new smart TVs and streaming media devices like the Apple TV, Roku, Amazon Fire TV, and Chromecast with Google TV use voice commands for everything from navigation to search, making it a key part of the experience.
Logitech tried to solve this problem with a product called the Harmony Express, which leveraged the power of Amazon Alexa. But the Express was an odd device from a universal remote perspective. It was expensive ($250) and didn’t offer the big set of customizable buttons Harmony users had become accustomed to. In the end, the Express didn’t prove popular with buyers and Logitech discontinued it a year after it went on sale.
Existing Harmony remote users don’t need to worry about their remotes just yet as Logitech has committed to providing ongoing updates and support.
“We expect no impact to our customers by this announcement,” the blog post said. “We plan to support our Harmony community and new Harmony customers, which includes access to our software and apps to set up and manage your remotes. We also plan to continue to update the platform and add devices to our Harmony database. Customer and warranty support will continue to be offered.”
In the FAQ section, Logitech clarifies this by saying, “Our goal is to keep service running as long as customers are using it.”
Despite this offer of continued service, Logitech’s decision to abandon the universal remote business is a problem for anyone who wants to manage a variety of home theater devices with a single remote control.
HDMI-CEC, a protocol that lets the remote from one device control other devices connected via HDMI, can be used in certain situations, but it’s notoriously fickle and there hasn’t been a lot of effort on the part of device makers to ensure these systems work seamlessly.
It’s possible that with the ongoing rollout of HDMI 2.1, HDMI-CEC will improve and become more stable, but even if that happens, the absence of Harmony remotes means we’ll still be left without an affordable way to customize the remote control experience.
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