Logitech’s Harmony division makes higher common distant controls than simply about anyone. Its newest mannequin, the $250 Harmony Express, may be its most sensible, even when it’s not the corporate’s strongest.

The Harmony Express doesn’t have all of the bells and whistles of the corporate’s top-of-the-line Harmony Elite ($350 MSRP), which Logitech will proceed to promote. The Express doesn’t have a touch-sensitive show, it doesn’t have as many programmable buttons, and it may’t execute advanced macros that incorporate each house leisure gear and good house units. But don’t mistake its obvious simplicity for a scarcity of horsepower. The Express can do a lot of what the Elite can for lots much less cash, and—because it has Amazon’s Alexa onboard—it may do some issues the Elite can’t.

The genius of Harmony’s strategy has at all times been its intensive library of distant management codes which can be saved within the cloud. You inform the Harmony Express cellular app—out there for Android and iOS—concerning the tools you wish to management, and it downloads the codes to the distant. This course of is even simpler with the Express, as it may detect a lot of what’s in your leisure heart by itself.

Michael Brown / IDG

You drag your leisure system elements to the HDMI inputs they’re related to.

It sniffed out my Samsung Q7F QLED good TV, my DirecTV set-top field, and my Xbox One video-game console, all of that are related to my house community. But it wasn’t good. I needed to inform the app that I additionally had a Cambridge Audio CXUHD 4K Blu-ray participant in my tools rack, regardless that that additionally has an IP handle.

One room, one leisure system

The Harmony Express is designed to manage a single leisure system—centered round your TV—in a single room. The distant is aware of what inputs your TV has—4 HDMI ports in my case—and diagrams them within the app. The remainder of the tools in your leisure heart seems beneath these ports and also you merely drag their icons to the related HDMI ports.

The hardware factor of the Harmony Express consists of three elements: The distant management, a big infrared blaster that you just sit in entrance of your leisure heart, and an IR mini blaster that lets you management audio and video elements that you just might need hidden inside a cupboard. The 5.25-inch-long by 1.75-inch-wide distant has simply three rows of three buttons organized beneath a directional pad encircling a spherical OK button. The capabilities of the 9 buttons can change relying on which gadget the distant is actively controlling, however most of them shall be common: Rewind, fast-forward, play/pause, quantity up, quantity down, and mute.

The directional pad enables you to navigate onscreen menus (up, down left, and proper) and urgent the middle button selects the highlighted perform. Pressing and holding that heart button, however, summons Alexa so you need to use voice instructions to energy on all of the units wanted to look at TV, launch a wise TV app (both in your TV or on a streaming field), to manage anything you’ve got Alexa set as much as do. You don’t must say “Alexa,” both—simply holding that heart button down for a second or two is sufficient. Alexa’s voice responds by way of a small speaker constructed into the distant.

harmony express speaker Michael Brown / IDG

The Harmony Express distant management has a small speaker on its again, in order that Alexa can verify your voice instructions.

Ease of use is the principle attraction

In my set-up, holding the button down and saying “Turn on TV” was all I wanted to do to energy up TV and set-top field and swap the energetic show to the set-top field. To change the channel, I simply held the button down and mentioned “Go to channel 200” or no matter channel I needed to look at (the system additionally acknowledges channel names, akin to NBC or HBO). If I needed to play a TV program I’d recorded, I may say “Go to DVR” to carry a listing of recordings. I then used the D-pad to maneuver up and down the listing till I discovered what I needed to look at and pressed the OK button to play it.

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