It’s been a bit since we took the Logitech Harmony Companion out of its box for you, and after ample time to set up and get to know the device, I’m here to share my thoughts. Before we begin, I want to thank Logitech for sending this product our way and for being patient with us while we collected a few smart home devices to use it with. (Stay tuned for those reviews in the near future!)
Without further delay, let’s dive in.
Harmony Companion remote
The remote itself features a streamlined button layout and full number pad. It’s small and lightweight, and it sits quite nicely in the hand. Combine those facts with the remote’s ergonomic design and matte-like coating, it provides a pleasurable user experience superior to that of the stock remote that came with my Sony Android TV (2015 4k model).
There are more than enough buttons to control pretty much everything in your smart home. Even smart lights and smart plugs can be controlled directly from the remote. Sadly for me, the smart light control buttons don’t work with my Philps Hue setup, so I have to use the Harmony app to control lighting.
All-in-all, the Companion remote is a fine piece of tech, especially for those who haven’t yet cut the cable and still subscribe a television provider, like DirecTV. I don’t have TV service, so I can’t benefit from the ‘Favorite Channels’ settings.
Also, because it communicates over Wi-Fi with the Companion hub, you don’t need to point the remote at your devices – it just works when you press the button. This is great for me, as I’m not always directly in front of my TV when watching.
Just one thing…
I have noticed that the remote can be a bit laggy at times. For example, when I power on or off my television, it sometimes takes a few seconds for the action to complete. I’m not sure what causes it, but there are a lot of moving parts in my setup, considering Android TV, my sometimes crappy Internet connection, and the possibility of interference from one of the many other devices in my house.
There’s no way I can possibly pin it down to being a problem with the remote, so I won’t knock it for this; I still wanted to make mention of it, though.
Harmony Companion hub
The Harmony Companion hub is arguably the star of the show with this piece of tech. Without it, the remote wouldn’t be nearly as capable as it is. The hub is compatible with an ever-growing list of over 270,000 entertainment and smart home devices. It also works with Google Assistant and with Amazon Alexa, making it even easier to control everything.
The device itself is small and doesn’t take up much space in your existing home entertainment setup. It also opens up a whole new world, in terms of remote control, when paired with the Harmony app. Before we go over the app, let’s talk about setting everything up.
Open cabinet on left; closed cabinet on right
Physically setting up the Harmony Companion is a fairly straightforward and easy process. If you’re using the Harmony Companion hub in an environment with open cabinets, simply position the device on top of your cabinet or on a shelf with an unobstructed view. If your environment has closed cabinets, you’ll need to connect the IR mini blaster and set it on top of your cabinet so it can send IR signals to your television.
Now, make sure your phone is connected to Wi-Fi, then download and install the Harmony app with the link below. The rest of the setup process is done there. Unfortunately, that’s where things get a bit tedious, but once everything is set, the process is worth it in the end.
A few complaints…
For the most part, the Harmony Companion is a great setup, but it does come with a few quirks. My main complaint is that the app itself is slow and clunky. It works, but it’s a slow and tedious process, specifically when adding new devices or setting up new activities.
For some reason, the app deems it necessary to check for updated firmwares when adding devices, and activities – every. single. time. This slows down the process tremendously, making it a frustrating experience at times, as it takes about 30 seconds to check the firmware version.
Couldn’t this just be done once when first opening the app?
IP pairing doesn’t work. (For me, anyway.)
Another issue I came across was IP pairing. I have several TVs in the house that have Wi-Fi connections and are on our home network. Theoretically, the Harmony Companion should be able to control all of them, even if they aren’t in the same room as the Companion hub. For whatever reason, I can’t get a single one of them connected, even after several attempts.
Again, I’m not sure if this is due to my network, or if it’s just a faulty feature. Maybe I’m just not getting it right altogether, for some reason. But it doesn’t work for me, and that’s a bit of a bummer. Definitely not a dealbreaker, though.
Google Assistant integration is weak. Alexa integration is strong.
Setting the Harmony Companion up with Alexa is a breeze. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said about Google Assistant. And since GA is my predominant virtual assistant, this does create a bit of a problem.
For instance, with Assistant, I have to say, “Okay, Google, tell Harmony to turn on my TV.” With Alexa, I can eliminate “Harmony” from the equation altogether and just say, “Alexa, turn on my TV.” Or, “Alexa, turn up the volume.”
Also, Alexa generally gets the requested action to work on a pretty reliable basis, as to where Google Assistant is hit or miss, even when it responds and tells you that Harmony recognizes the given command. Hopefully, this improves as time goes on, as I’d really like to be able to use more simple commands without jumping through hoops.
Speaking of jumping through hoops – enough of my complaining, because that’s all I really have to say negative about the Harmony Companion. Once you start using 3rd-party services, some of the grievances I’ve pointed on below start to subside.
IFTTT and Harmony Companion, FTW!
Luckily, IFTTT saves the day when it comes to Google Assistant integration. You can use IFTTT (If This, Then That) to set up custom commands to trigger Harmony Companion activities.
For example, I have a custom command set where IF I tell Google Assistant “Let’s Netflix and chill,” THEN Harmony triggers a command I have set up to turn on my TV and open the Netflix app. It also powers up my stereo receiver and turns my Philips Hue lights to red. Furthermore, I’ve set up another custom command that turns everything off when I say, “Turn off my TV.”
The possibilities are endless, especially when you throw more devices and a dash of creativity into the mix. One day, I’ll have this place decked out from head to toe with smart blinds, plugs, and just about everything else you can imagine, truly satisfying my inner geek. I’m totally happy for now though, building it all one step at a time.
Final thoughts and rating
Despite a few setbacks in the software department, the Harmony Companion is a great piece of tech I’d definitely recommend picking up, especially if you’re just getting started in the smart home space. Just be prepared to spend some time setting everything up, and then spending a bit more time to customize your experience with the Harmony app.
If you’d like to buy a Companion of your own, you can do so from the Logitech website for $149.99 with free shipping. Or, you can save a few bucks and snag one on Amazon for $133.99. They also have bundle deals, should you decide you want to add an Alexa device to the mix.
Be sure to stop back and let me know if you own a Harmony Companion, or if you decide to buy one. I’d love to hear in the comment thread how you like it and how you’re using it.