Logitech's Harmony Link makes your iPad the ultimate remote (first impressions)

Logitech's Harmony Link makes your iPad the ultimate remote (first impressions)

Summary: Consolidate up to 8 remotes into one with Logitech's Harmony Link and app for your iOS or Android device. But is the convenience worth $99?

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Your living room's coffee table is probably covered by a gazillion remotes: one for your television, your speakers, amplifier, your cable box, your Roku box, your DVR, DVD player, PlayStation 3, and increasingly your iPad is in the mix too. What if you could reduce clutter and the number of clicks on your various controllers so you can start watching the latest Game of Thrones episode faster? Logitech is betting couch potatoes would be happy to hand over $99 for the Harmony Link (pictured above), which links up to eight remotes and consolidates them into a single app for your iOS or Android device.

The Harmony Link looks more like a glossy black stone than a gadget; it is compact enough that you can hold in the palm of your hand and rest unobtrusively in your home. Not only does it use Infrared to communicate with your home theater gear (just like the remotes), it also requires access to your home wireless Internet so it can communicate with your tablet or smartphone and receive updates from Logitech.

After connecting the Harmony Link to your WiFi, and installing the free Harmony Link app on your phone or slate, you just have to select the name of your cable provider and the correct graphical TV guide should pop up (though this feature will only be available on the iPad at launch, according to Logitech's blog). To connect the app with the electronics in your living room, you need to map each remote to the app but the process is not as onerous as it sounds.

For one thing, the app comes preloaded with some basic virtual remotes to get you started, but it also has the ability to "learn," map and add more specialized or older remotes. To link each remote to the app, you'd have to go online using any computer to myharmony.com to enter the make and model of your equipment. Or if you still can't find the appropriate device on the site, you can put the errant remote next to the app so if can replicate the remote via IR.

Once the app is set up, you will be able to control the settings within your home theater network (volume, channel, play/stop etc.) from your mobile device; any iOS 4 (iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad) or later or Android 2.0 or later tablet or phone will be able to be able to run this app and double as an universal remote. When the TV guide feature extends beyond the iPad, you will also be able to browse through the more graphically interesting listing of "what's on" on your device, and tune in with just a tap of the "Watch Now" button, without interrupting whatever that's showing on TV or having to switch between multiple apps.

Judging from the brief demo of the Logitech Harmony Link and app I saw in New York back in July, the IR blaster and software is a clever combination that works seamlessly with minimal lag. It definitely addresses a growing problem (too many remotes) for gadget enthusiasts with a deceptively simple solution (combine a viewing guide within an universal remote app). But the hardware becomes redundant in the presence of the Sony Tablet S, which comes preloaded with a similar universal remote functionality, or the Vizio VTAB1008 tablet that offers a built-in IR radio. In this sense, the Logitech Harmony Link is best for non-Sony S and Vizio slate owners who take their home entertainment system (and remotes) very seriously, and therefore won't mind the $99 price tag.

Logitech is taking pre-orders for the Harmony Link now, but it won't actually arrive in your mailbox until October -- just in time for this holiday season.

Here's a video showing how the hardware and app all work together:

[Source: Logitech's blog, Logitech's YouTube channel]

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Topics: Hardware, Apple, iPad, Laptops, Mobile OS, Mobility, Tablets

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6 comments
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  • RE: Logitech's Harmony Link makes your iPad the ultimate remote (first impressions)

    I actually sort of like this idea, mainly because inevitably, one of our remotes get lost every once in a while. It'd also be nice to tell your DVR to record something that you forgot while you're sitting in your office or wherever.

    Although, I can also see a lot of problems, such as one of my friends grabbing the app and linking it to my transmitter while I'm not looking, then messing with me from the comfort of his own home.
    Aerowind
    • RE: Logitech's Harmony Link makes your iPad the ultimate remote (first impressions)

      @Aerowind I doubt your friend will be able to do that. First, I am pretty sure there is a certain step you have to do to link up your iPaq with the Logitech Link transmitter unit that will request physical access. Secondly, unless you open up the internal IP of your Logitech Link to the outside world (DMZ, NAT, PAT, etc. on your router/firewall), there is no way for outside user to access the internal private IP of your Logitech Link device.
      SonofChef
    • RE: Logitech's Harmony Link makes your iPad the ultimate remote (first impressions)

      Why not use it bluetooth based. I know alot of the HDTVs are using bluetooth for thier remotes.
      rparker009
  • Just by the Vizio Tablet

    I've had one for a month now and it works GREAT!
    Wesley A
  • Nifty

    Palm used to have a programmable universal tool, which was pretty neat, as did Bose, if I remember correctly. I have a Kameleon universal remote, which is very cool because it doesn't have the usual stupid number of buttons on it.

    THIS is slick. Having the programming on it so I don't have to bring up the on-screen guide and hopefully put a copy on the various iOS devices in the house will be a bonus.
    m0o0o0o0o
  • RE: Logitech's Harmony Link makes your iPad the ultimate remote (first impressions)

    I like this a lot better than an IR 'dongle' or really even a built-in IR transmitter on a tablet; since you no longer need line-of-sight; pointing a tablet or phone at the TV isn't always comfortable or convenient.

    I always balked at the idea of a remote that costs more than some of the stuff it controls, but after getting an older Harmony remote on clearance, I have to admit it makes everything a whole lot easier. Programming via the web vs. entering a ton of codes and trial and error is a big improvement.

    I'll agree that Bluetooth should be thrown in as well though; it'd be a few bucks at most and in addition to new HDTVs, it'd fill a blank spot in my current remote's capabilities: controlling the Playstation 3.
    xxyl