Logitech Harmony Touch is not a remote.
That’s according to the folks at Logitech, who make the Harmony Touch. Actually, they call their new $249.99 CAD Harmony Touch “a one touch wonder that redefining ultimate control over your home entertainment”. That’s a pretty strong statement at the very least, but the Harmony Touch certainly is quite a change from the other Harmony remotes I’ve tried out over the years.
Logitech hasn’t come out with a new remote in over three years, so you’d expect the Harmony Touch to show some newer technologies than the previous versions, and it certainly doesn’t disappoint.
The Harmony Touch is smaller than the previous models and aside from a new, smoother, more integrated shape; what sets it apart from all the other Harmony remotes is the new 2.4” touchscreen. Touching the screen in older Harmony remotes is simply for commands – you touch the activity you want, like “Watch TV”, and away you go. If there were adjustments you wanted to make, like changing the amount of bass on your subwoofer, you could do those as well. The way this Harmony Touch works, all that is still available, and a lot more, in terms of the touch interface. They’ve taken the interface and made it more intuitive, so anyone who owns a smartphone will quickly adapt to using the remote.
I’ll get the “this bugs me” out of my system right up front. The Harmony Touch, like every other Harmony remote except the Harmony 900, uses an infrared remote control. The 900 combines infrared and RF technologies to make a remote that’s still the top of the heap in my estimation. I’d definitely place the Touch in second spot overall, but for my money you can’t beat that RF remote. My gear is in a closed-in cabinet and I want to be able to change channels and control things with the doors closed – I can’t do that with an infrared remote.
Set up is a breeze. You simply go to the Harmony Remote website on your Mac or PC and it’ll take only a few minutes before you’re up and running. You’ll need to know the manufacturer and model number of all the devices you want to control with the Harmony Touch and the software will guide you through setting up everything effortlessly. Something I like is that it handles Apple TV use, which, although it worked with my old remote, didn’t work as flawlessly as it does now. The Logitech Harmony Touch supports up to 15 devices and is compatible with around 225,000 devices and over 5,000 brands, so you should be able to find your devices in the setup process. If you’re a Harmony One user, the setup process is even easier. With a couple of keystrokes on the myharmony.com website, you can transfer all the information stored on the Harmony One onto the Harmony Touch and not have to worry about all the rest of the programming.
The new touch interface, while it takes a bit of time to get used to, is terrific. It’s quite sensitive and I quite like the favourite channel option, which stores your favourite 50 channels so you can quickly access them. They’re stored so that the screen display is very familiar to smartphone users who have a bunch of Apps on their devices. You simply touch the icon for the channel you want to watch – no more paging up or down or having to know the channel numbers.
You can select a number keyboard and it’ll appear on the touchscreen, so moving through your program guide is simple, although page up and page down are also available onscreen as well.
Of course the Touch still has buttons – 27 of them to be exact, and while there are fewer of them, they still offer the common controls for playback, volume and channel up and down – that sort of thing. They’re backlit, which is nice in a darkened room. The charger is vertical now, and recharges the battery quickly, and the stand is small enough that you can leave it out on a table for easy recharging.
You need to touch either the screen or one of the buttons to activate the display, so it’s be nice if an accelerometer was built into the Touch so all you’d have to do to activate the display is pick the device up.
PROS: Fantastic touch screen; save up to 50 favourite channels; great battery length; great new shape fits in your hand nicely; onscreen number pad.
CONS: You can’t replace the rechargeable battery; infrared remote; it’d be nice to have the remote “wake up” when you move it.
TO SUM IT UP: It’s nice to see a new remote from the folks at Logitech. Their Harmon remotes are terrific quality and really do make viewing your entertainment system a lot easier for not very much money. The touchscreen is a great addition and this remote is well worth the $249.99.
Murray Hill is lead tech writer at communicatto.com, a social media marketing agency where this article originated. You can reach Murray by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @MurrayDHill