2016 Update: While it was a great product, it appears that Logitech no longer makes the Harmony keyboard. However, there line of remotes can get the job done two-fold! Check out some of the smart home offerings on the Logitech Best Buy website.
If you are like me you probably have several components that make up your home entertainment system. About 2 years ago I upgraded my old receiver to a new Sony receiver with HDMI that is the hub of everything. From there the LCD TV, DirecTV box, CD player, XBox 360, Playstation 3, and Wii all feed into it. However, I still need a different remote to handle controlling each of those things. That means that we have 4+ remotes in the family room to control the different components. And when we are wanting to search Netflix or Hulu on any of our devices it takes an act of quiet and concentration to navigate that onscreen keyboard to type what we are looking for into the search field. I usually end up starting over a couple of times. LOL!
However, with the right keyboard, those tasks are simplified. The Logitech Harmony Smart Keyboard lets you:
- Control devices behind cabinet doors and walls
- Control up to eight devices
- Works with Apple TV, Roku and TiVo
- Use your smartphone, with the Harmony smartphone app, to supplement keyboard controls with touch-screen gesture
The Harmony Smart Keyboard delivers the full Harmony control experience for TV-connected Internet and home entertainment devices. It comes with everything that you need to get up and running. In addition to the keyboard, the kit includes the Harmony hub which is the brain of the system. It also includes 2 USB receivers which can be used in your non-Bluetooth enabled devices like your computer or television. It also includes an IR blaster, USB extender, and USB cable.
Once the hub is setup you can use the smart keyboard and your Android or iOS smartphone to control all of the devices hooked up to your system. Setup was fairly easy. Pairing your phone to the hub is similar to pairing it to a Bluetooth device. Unlike older so-called Universal remotes where you had to point it at the television and press and press until it searched for the code, the Harmony systems allows you to simply enter in the manufacturer name and model name/number and find it. It’s just that easy to connect it to your system. For example, to connect my Vizio Smart TV I simply had to type in Vizio as the manufacturer and enter the model number listed on the side of the TV. Right away it was added to this system. Since I could add up to 8 devices I also added my PS3, XBox 360, DirecTV DVR, and Sony AV Receiver. I even moved my tiny little Sapphire Edge VS8 PC from the cabinet in my master bedroom down to the family room where it might get more use. Everything is now working in tune. I also have an Apple TV and a Roku in the house (different rooms) so I have space to add those devices if I want.
I really like being able to control everything from the Harmony app. Of course doing it from the keyboard is a bonus, however there are only 3 keys at the top that allow you to use the programmed activities, so you have to remember which key does what. But seeing all of your activities on the app screen on your smartphone is nice and clear. It makes a great universal remote. The activities that I have created are Watch TV, Listen to Music, Xbox 360, PC-TV, Playstation 3, and Smart TV. But the keyboard includes integrated DVR and set-top box controls, playback and volume buttons, and a touchpad for cursor control on a PC or Mac, and much more.
Each function turns on the devices needed, plus sets the receiver to the correct input. For example.. clicking on Watch TV turns no the television, cable box, and receiver, plus sets the receiver input to SAT/Cable which is what is needed to display the HDMI from the DirecTV box. You can also choose to individually control each device.
There are a couple of extra steps for controlling some devices. If you are wanting to use the keyboard & hub with your Playstation, you can connect it with Bluetooth for the purposes of power, however in order to use the keyboard you have to plug in one of the included USB receivers. There are only 2 receivers included (not expandable) so choose wisely. 🙂
So far I am really loving what I can do with this setup. I am looking forward to using it a bit more and simplifying the number or remotes laying on my family room ottoman!
I also have a Logitech Harmony 650 remote and older Logitech Harmony 300 remote. Both have always worked great. And one awesome thing that I found out during setup is that if you are a existing Harmony user and you upgrade to a newer device you do not have to start from scratch, you can just import all of your settings and activities from your previous remote. That saves quite a bit of time.
Right now through June 21 you can get the Logitech Harmony Smart Keyboard exclusively at Best Buy. The cost is $149.99. However, I think it’s worth it.
Disclosure: The reviewer has been compensated in the form of a Best Buy Gift Card and/or received the product/service at a reduced price or for free.