Logitech Harmony Smart Control Remote
Someone posted on getting a new Logitech Harmony remote. It intriqued me about the new Logitech Harmony remotes, particularly the Smart Control (SC) as a replacement for the U-verse point anywhere remote to ccontrol the second TV (see avatar). When the OK button seems to have worn out on my five year old point anywhere remote, I went for an SC.
The SC does have a unique design - It has an IR blaster that connects to WI-fi to communicate with an app on a portable tablet and a physical remote. The physical remote has no IR. It only communicates with the IR blaster. The SC wi-fi also communicates with the mother ship to allow programming via a computer or tablet and save the settings.
I feel that a physical remote is much easier to use for regular viewing than an app. The app is only for miscellaneous use. The SC app is especially ugly. It does have gestures.
The SC physical remote has a really good feel to it. It is about 1.5 - 2 inches shorter than the U-verse remote. The buttons do seem smaller & closer together, but they are OK, except for the numbers - Too small & too close.
The following U-verse buttons are missing from the SC remote -
Jump ahead & back
Video on demand
The SC has one additional button - Blue. The only non-labeled buttons are the four colored buttons. I programmed mine (four colored buttons) to navigate the input on my JVC TV. I programmed the red record button to be a power toggle. And, I changed the Exit button to Back. I will probably, add the Jump ahead & back as a long press of FF. I went to do this & found it in place as part of the auto assignment of buttons.
The SC has an interesting way of allowing for many functions - each button has two functions - one for a short press & one for a long press. I was leery of this feature, but it seems to work well.
Other Logitech Harmony remotes have distinct Activities and Devices. The U-verse remote has one activity oddly combined with some device access.
The SC has six activities - No direct access to devices. Devices are all controlled by the buttons assigned to an activity. It can control up to three of the same device, such as STBs, because it has three IR blasters that can be assigned to specific instances of devices.
For those unfamiliar with activities - In the beginning, there was one device (e,g, TV) with it’s own remote. When it becomes necessary to add another device (e.g. STB) a universal remote needs to have some buttons for one device & other buttons for the other device. This is sometimes called “punch through”. This is the way the u-verse remote works. The next step is activities, where the button map is set to support an activity that encompasses multiple devices & pre sets power and input. Of course, the devices still control what happens. The Activity is just an overlay to help bring order to the complexity. That said, the complexity is encountered in the set-up.
SC programming is daunting - time consuming - perhaps hard to get used to because it is quite comprehensive. If you already have a Harmony, you can just copy it. Also, the SC has a learning feature.
My programming was especially frustrating because I am going against the tide. When selecting an Activity, Logitech wants to turn on all the devices & set the proper input. Since I am primarily using my Harmony 700 for primary control, I want to disable those two steps. I believe I have found the programming to do that. Previous models of the Harmony could not do that. It is good that Logitech wants to include a correct set-up of the equipment, but a robust support needs to include the flexibility to skip those steps.
I think I am at the point where I could use the SC remote as a primary remote except for two things - the aforementioned small & close number buttons and I have two very large buttons on the 700 for FF on recordings. These are so much better than the usual recording buttons. The base reason for the SC is to control the second STB
So, I have the SC controlling two TVs and Two STBs. I believe I will add the DVR & third TV.
The ideas just keep rolling in - I have the three Activity buttons programmed for the three different STBs connected to three different TVs. I just added three more Activities - Just the three TVs - providing the equivalent of direct device access. Then I programmed the long press on the first three activities- Volume up/down/mute - long press to be STB instead of TV. So, all the functions are covered with direct access to the device.