Logitech has launched two new Harmony universal remote controls, bringing a host of new options, including iPhone and Android integration, as well as Philips Hue lighting control.
Both the new devices - the top-tier Harmony Ultimate and the Harmony Smart Control - operate around the Harmony Hub, which is literally the hub of control offered by the new devices, bringing Bluetooth, IR and RF options, and enabling support for the iOS and Android apps.
Starting at the top, the Logitech Harmony Ultimate takes the conventional approach, providing you with a fully-programmable remote, with set-up via USB through your PC, giving you access to Harmony's database of more than 225,000 products from over 5,000 companies.
The Harmony Ultimate features a 2.4-inch colour touchscreen with haptic feedback, as well as conventional buttons in an evolution of the previous Harmony Touch design. You can program in your favourite channels and set up one-touch actions, as well as just controlling all your devices from one controller.
As the Logitech Harmony range now also includes control of Philips Hue lighting, you could set up a music setting, changing the colours of the lighting, or movies, with lights suitably dimmed for the best viewing conditions in front of the TV.
The Harmony Hub is literally as it sounds, expanding control options for the Harmony system. You can connect up to two additional IR blasters to it (supplied), meaning you can control devices hiding in cabinets out of regular IR view.
The inclusion of Bluetooth is designed to support devices like the Nintendo Wii U and PlayStation 3, so you can turn them on and start watching a Netflix movie, for example.
But the Harmony Hub also enables a forward-looking feature of the Harmony system and that's app support.
Apps for iPhone and Android will allow you a wider range of control options, so you're not tied to the conventional remote. The apps will be free to download and once they recognise the Harmony Hub, will then provide you with all the controls you might have set up, so it promises to be quick and easy.
Recognising that some people would prefer to use their existing device, like iPhone 5 or HTC One, in place of a universal remote control, Logitech will also be offering the Harmony Smart Control.
This option gives you the Harmony Hub and a secondary "emergency" remote with basic functions - the idea being that you then use the Harmony apps for all your control needs.
This brings with it quite a drop in price too. The Harmony Ultimate (that’s with the touchscreen remote, Harmony Hub, charger and IR blasters) is Â£229, launching in May; the Harmony Smart Control (Harmony Hub, basic remote, IR blasters) will cost you Â£109, also available in May.
Logitech has confirmed that apps will be bringing more enhanced features for tablets to make better use of screen space and there will be future support for the existing Logitech Touch remote.