Logitech Harmony guide: Your missing manual to the entertainment hub

Tie the room together

Logitech Harmony missing manual

Over the years, Logitech’s Harmony products have become the go-to for people who want to tie all of their various living room devices together. It started with the Harmony remote control, but has since expanded with the Harmony Hub – a living room nucleus not only for your TV and Blu-ray player, but for smart home devices like thermostats, lights and more.

In fact, these days you don’t even need a remote, as the smartphone in your pocket can take on all of the control duties, whether that’s changing the channel, dimming the lights, or turning down the PS4.

Harmony’s biggest benefit is that it ties your entertainment and smart home devices together in one place. On the other hand, if it’s just the smart home you’re interested, we’d recommend looking in the direction of something like Samsung SmartThings or Vivint instead. You can read more in our best smart home hubs roundup.

As users of the Logitech Harmony Hub, we’ve pulled together the guide below to explain how it works, what it works with, and how you can get the most out of it.

Logitech Harmony guide: Your missing manual to the entertainment hub

The devices

Harmony Hub

For controlling the smart home, this is the most essential piece of kit. The Hub costs $99.99 and connects wirelessly – i.e. you won’t need to plug in an Ethernet cable like some other smart home hubs would have you do. The price doesn’t include a remote, as you’ll be able to control everything using your smartphone. If you do want a remote, Logitech has a couple of packages that include a universal remote with the hub.

An important thing to note about the hub is that its connections are limited to Bluetooth, IR and Wi-Fi. So not Zigbee or Z-Wave control, sadly. Logitech used to have a device called the Harmony Hub Extender that served that purpose, but it was discontinued quite a while ago.

Logitech Harmony Hub
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The remotes

Logitech has a few remotes that can be used to control the smart home. The most basic is called the Harmony Companion, which lacks a screen but has a few dedicated (but uncustomisable) smart home control buttons.

The Harmony 950 and Harmony Elite cost $249.99 and $299.99 respectively and add a touchscreen that lets you see and control your various routines and devices. The Elite also comes with a couple of IR mini-blasters, meaning you can hide the hub out of sight and still control IR devices.

Pop smart button

Just because you have your smartphone around most of the time, it doesn’t mean it’s always the most convenient way to control your smart home devices – especially if you have other people in the house. Logitech makes something called a Pop button, a simple smart home control button that can be put anywhere in the house.

Read this: How to use Alexa to control the Logitech Harmony Hub

The button comes with a bridge, which plugs into a wall outlet, and allows the buttons to work with HomeKit. You can have multiple buttons, and each can be given three different commands – press once, press twice, press and hold – for controlling all sorts of smart home devices and scenes.

Logitech Harmony guide: Your missing manual to the entertainment hub

Smart home compatibility

Once you have the hub in the equation, Harmony’s range of supported smart home devices is pretty impressive. That said, in most cases the Harmony Hub needs to connect to a bridge to communicate, as it doesn’t have Zigbee or Z-wave support built in.


When you first set up the Harmony Hub with your Wi-Fi, it will scan the network for all connected compatible devices. So if you have a Philips Hue Bridge and a smart TV connected to the same Wi-Fi, you'll be asked if you want to add these as devices to the Harmony app. Once in there, you'll be able to control them and use them to build Activities.


You can see the entire list of compatible devices here, but we’ve outlined some of the more notable integrations below:

Nest

The Harmony Hub can connect to multiple Nest thermostats in your home. You can also tie Nest into your pre-set activities, so tapping the ‘Watch TV’ activity could knock the thermostat a few notches up too, for example. You can even wrap in your Nest Protect, and have Harmony turn down the speakers if the alarm starts blaring in another room.


Philips Hue

Connect to your Philips Hue bulbs, via the bridge, and you can control scenes, colours and brightness from the app, as well as triggering different scenes with your Harmony Activities. If you're using the smartphone app, you get a bit more control than one of the Harmony remotes will allow for.


August lock

If you have an August Connect or August Doorbell Cam, you can connect Harmony via one of them to an August Smart Lock. Once verified, not only can you lock and unlock your door from the app, but tie it into Activities. For example, Harmony could lock the door as part of a 'Goodnight' routine.


IFTTT

We've found IFTTT integration particularly handy for location and time-based triggers. There are some restrictions here for safety reasons, though, a big one being that you can't use a location-based IFTTT trigger to unlock your August Smart Lock.


Alexa and Google Assistant

Where things get really cool is when you call the voice assistants in for support. The Harmony can connect to Echo and Google Home devices, letting you trigger your 'Watch TV' Activity by actually saying "Watch TV", rather than tapping a button.


You can even use them to change the channel. Roku users get special treatment here too, as Alexa and Google Assistant can be used to open apps like Netflix and HBO.


Building an Activity

Activities are Logitech's version of routines, which can perform multiple actions with the tap of a single button – or the utterance of a single phrase. Putting them together is pretty straightforward: on the main dashboard you should see a button that says Edit Activities, which will take you through the process of setting one up.

A good beginner Activity to try and set up is one for 'Watch TV' which will turn on your television and do other things with your connected devices, be it changing the colour of the lights or switching off your smart speaker – or both. Get creative.


TAGGED   smart home   televisions

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