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The Harmony Hub is the starting point for all of Logitech’s high-end Harmony systems. In simple terms, it is a Discman-sized device that bridges your home’s Wi-Fi and your entertainment center, courtesy of a built-in IR blaster. But beyond that, it also controls other Wi-Fi and Bluetooth devices. The Hub can support up to eight devices total, and chances are you won’t be able to stump it: Logitech claims compatibility with a whopping 270,000 home entertainment and smart home devices, and I couldn’t find any home entertainment devices that the Hub didn’t support. (Smart home devices are considerably more limited.)
Update (June 2022):Logitech discontinued all of its Harmony remotes in April 2021, and the company isn’t planning on making any new models. Logitech has pledged to keep its Harmony service running “as long as customers are using it,” and you may still be able to find new and refurbished Harmony remotes (often at inflated prices) in retail channels. However, given that Logitech has effectively abandoned its Harmony remote business, we recommend you consider a universal remote from another manufacturer.
The key thing to understand is that the Hub does not include an actual remote control. You use your smart device (phone or tablet) or a PC to do all the work, all via the Harmony app. If the features of the Hub sound appealing but you want a physical remote, you’ll want to consider either the Harmony Companion or the Harmony Elite.
The list of features of the Hub is extensive to the point of being daunting. The Hub can control up to eight remotes, and you can set up 50 “one-touch actions” that combine commands directed at multiple devices. For example, the standard “Watch TV” can turn on the receiver, the television, and set the input to the cable box. Realistically you won’t need 50 of those; while you can geek out and get very granular (change channel to 31, press the B button on the Xbox One controller), the need for numerous, excessively detailed macros is probably rare.
As noted above, the Hub also supports a number of smart home products, including SmartThings, Nest, and Philips Hue, among others. These can be added to the system through a similar wizard-based setup, which kicks you over to a web browser to log in to the respective network. Lights and other smart home devices receive a basic but functional interface within the Harmony environment – and you can tie these together with entertainment center one-touch commands, so if you want to dim the lights when you launch “Play a Movie,” that can easily be programmed. Harmony also integrates with Alexa, so you can perform most of this via voice, as well.
In actual use, the Harmony mobile app works well, but if you’re the type of person that doesn’t have their phone permanently grafted to their hand, it’s definitely less convenient than a dedicated remote. If your app isn’t left open to the action, finding simple commands like changing the volume aren’t easy on your phone. If the action is open, you can simply use your phone’s volume rocker to change sound level, but if the action is closed, getting to the volume page is a chore, requiring one tap and three swipes in order to find the icons you need. Similarly, other devices, like Apple TV, can be fairly difficult to control without the touchpad integrated into that particular remote.
Still, for users who are absolutely sick of tableside clutter, the Harmony Hub is a credible way to get rid of it all while still letting you do—albeit a bit slowly—everything a physical remote can do.