The Logitech Harmony, possibly the most popular universal remote still on sale, had, and still has, a strong and dedicated following. Though obviously this following wasn’t spending enough for Logitech to see any point in keeping production going.
Last week Logitech announced that they would discontinue the Harmony universal remotes. Devices still on shelves will continue to be sold, as long as stocks last. However, no new Logitech Harmony universal remotes will be manufactured.
Home Assistant has integrated with Logitech Harmony universal remotes since December 3, 2016. Currently, over 11% of those that have enabled Home Assistant analytics are using the Logitech Harmony integration, proving that it is a very popular line of devices in the community. Fortunately for those 11%, Logitech has said that it would continue to provide support and service for the Harmony remote “as long as customers are using it.”
What was the Logitech Harmony remote?
The first Harmony remote control was created by Easy Zapper and began shipping in November 2001. Easy Zapper would later change their name to Intrigue Technologies, which was bought by Logitech for US$29 million in May 2004. With the knowledge, finances, and distribution of Logitech, the Harmony remote turned into a worldwide phenomenon.
Consumers bought Logitech Harmony remotes with the goal of having one remote to rule them all. Back in the mid-naughties, it wasn’t uncommon to have a remote for a DVD player, another for a cable box, one to control an amplifier, perhaps another belonging to a console (the original Xbox and the PlayStation 2 could be equipped with a remote), and, of course, one for the television.
To configure a Logitech Harmony remote, a computer running Microsoft Windows or macOS is needed (though some newer models can also be set up using a smartphone). Using the Harmony Software, IR codes for over 270000 devices from 6000+ brands could be loaded on to the universal remote. And if your device wasn’t yet supported by Logitech Harmony, each remote came with infrared learning capabilities.
Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and voice control killed Logitech Harmony
The question that begs to be asked is, what killed the Logitech Harmony? Personally, I think there are two factors: Just about every device in the living room has Wi-Fi or Bluetooth capabilities and integrates with Amazon Alexa or the Google Alexa. The second reason is that people generally have fewer media playing devices.
For example, sound bars have come a long way and can easily be connected to any television without using an amplifier. Additionally, HDMI eARC (Enhanced Audio Return Channel) allows a much simpler setup where everything is connected to the television’s HDMI ports. Another feature many televisions have is HDMI CEC. Using it, connected devices can turn on the television without the push of a button. For example, you could cast a video to a Chromecast, and it would turn on the television automatically and have it switch to the correct external input.
What are the alternatives to Logitech Harmony?
While there are alternatives to the Logitech Harmony, there are few and far between. The closest in terms of looks and functionality could possibly be the NEEO universal remote. Its life began as a Kickstarter and the company developing them has since been bought up by Control4. There is a custom component to enable integration between Home Assistant and the NEEO universal remote, however I can’t tell you how well it works as I don’t own one.
Another alternative to the Logitech Harmony are the universal remotes from BroadLink, though these are more comparable to the Logitech Harmony Hub. The BroadLink universal remote, such as the RM4, takes commands from either an app or voice assistant runs them accordingly. There is an official Home Assistant integration with BroadLink universal remotes.
The BroadLink universal remotes might be the safest bet if you value the integration with Home Assistant. Whatever you decide to go with, please make sure you research the product first, as I have read some complaints directed at BroadLink’s universal remotes.