Logitech Harmony Ultimate
Universal remote controls used to be ugly, complicated devices that were made of cheap plastic and relied on mimicking the IR signal from your existing remote to learn commands. The Logitech Harmony Ultimate shows we’ve come a long way from such devices. It’s a gorgeous remote control with a touchscreen display that gives you control over every piece of kit in your home cinema setup.
As with previous Harmony remote controls, the Ultimate has an Activities setting which can simplify even the most complicated home cinema systems. You can assign one button to switch on a TV, amplifier and set-top box, choose the correct input and change the channel, rather than go through the laborious process of doing it all yourself. We added nine different set-top boxes, TVs, projectors, amplifiers and sound bars to its memory, and it recognised all of them without issue. We could also control our PS3 thanks to its built-in Bluetooth.
If you own a set of Philips Hue colour-changing LED light bulbs, you can even add those to the Harmony's device list. The docking station recharges the remote control, so you should never have to worry about running out of charge; just remember to return it to the docking station when you've finished watching TV.
One of the Ultimate's most useful features is the Harmony Hub, an IR receiver that communicates with the Harmony Ultimate, beaming signals to your devices and repeating them if the remote control can't reach them itself. This is great if you have an AV cabinet, as you can position the hub inside it and keep the doors closed instead of opening them up to allow a line-of-sight connection for your remote control and devices.
The Harmony Hub connects to your Wi-Fi network and can be controlled with an iOS or Android app as well as the Harmony Ultimate, which means you can turn any smartphone or tablet into a universal remote control. There's a slight delay between issuing a command and it taking effect, but it's much better than the bulky add-on dongles we've seen for smartphones in the past.
The Harmony Ultimate lives up to its name. There's almost every feature you could want from a universal remote control here, as well as an easy-to-use interface and gorgeous design. It’s expensive, but if your home cinema setup is comprised of lots of components and you’re running out of space, it could be a worthwhile addition.