A quality remote control is one of the most crucial components of any home theater system. Unfortunately, many homeowners fail to take the remote into account when building the best possible home theater experience. This is quite unfortunate, because a great remote control device can help tie together the various pieces of your home theater system.
To illustrate the importance of a high-quality remote control, below we have provided in-depth reviews on two of the best and most popular home theater remotes currently on the market today: The Logitech Harmony Elite and the Logitech Harmony Ultimate remotes. Through these reviews, in which we will compare and contrast the two models, our aim is to provide some insight into the design and features of each product, which will ultimately help you make the most informed purchasing decision possible.
Logitech Harmony Elite vs. Ultimate
Last update on 2019-04-17 at 17:50 / Affiliate disclaimer / Images via Amazon Product Advertising API
The very first Logitech Harmony remote control maintained its same basic shape and design for some time, allowing users of different generations to become very familiar with the device. In its newest form, however, the Elite has taken on a different shape, with squared rather than rounded softer edges. This design alone has differentiated the Elite from the earlier Harmony Ultimate model, the latter having those rounded and softer edges and a curved underside that fits well in the palm.
The new version of the Logitech Harmony Elite is additionally much weightier than its older self, the Ultimate, coming in at 5.85 ounces. This also makes the Logitech Harmony Elite a full ounce heavier than the Harmony Ultimate, which weighs in at just 4.8 ounces. Some users have praised the extra weight of the Elite model, saying it feels more substantial in their hands, while others have denigrated this weight change as something negative about the new model.
One of the best design features of the Logitech Harmony Elite is the “soft-touch” finish on the back of the remote. Users stress that this backing makes the remote feel good and stable in the hands; and the harder edges reduce the chances of the remote slipping out of the hand when in use.
There are many similarities between the Logitech Harmony Ultimate of old and the current version of the Logitech Harmony Elite device, starting with the large, easy-to-read touch screen and the number of bright buttons. Despite these similarities, the Elite remote has changed in many ways that have pleased the user. The remote’s transport or function buttons—such as play, pause, reverse, forward, stop—which can be found on the top of the Logitech Harmony Ultimate remote, are now—thankfully—located at the bottom of the Elite device. This simple change has made those buttons easier to reach and find: instead of having to fumble around for those buttons, they are now conveniently located at the base of the remote.
The Logitech Harmony Elite possesses a few new buttons on the bottom meant to control a variety of home devices and switches—buttons that were largely absent from the Logitech Harmony Ultimate. On the older Ultimate remote, these features could only be accessed through the touch screen—features like being able to dim the lights without having to navigate through three or four screens on the touch-screen interface.
One of the best additions to the Logitech Harmony Elite is a small circular device that automatically relays various commands from the remote to your primary entertainment system. This hub also connects to your Wi-Fi network as a way to link to smart home gadgets and devices. This hub can be neatly stored away in a cabinet and comes standard with IR blasters that can be easily positioned in front of any home theater component—TV, receiver, etc.
Setup of the Logitech Harmony Elite and Logitech Harmony Ultimate
With every new Harmony remote created by Logitech, the setup process seems to be getting easier and easier. While the new version known as the Elite continues to boast the micro-USB port of the Harmony Ultimate—making it easy for users to synch the remote to their computers for setup purposes—the entire setup process on the Logitech Harmony Elite can now be handled using an iOS or Android app on your smart phone. This include firmware updates to keep your Elite remote up to date and current.
To use this setup application, the first thing you need to do is download it to your phone and create a free account. Once this has been accomplished, you will have the opportunity to create “Activities,” a sequence of commands that will set up any and all of your devices to the correct settings.
As with the previous generation Harmony Ultimate, you can still program activities from the Elite to include smart home devices. For example, you can program your Apple TV with a command that allows you to dim smart lights around your home. The Elite, however, is much more intuitive, as you will see in the next section.
Interface of the Elite vs. Ultimate
The interface of the Harmony Elite makes navigating on-screen menus much more intuitive than on its previous remote—the Logitech Harmony Ultimate. On the Elite, two touch-sensitive buttons are located just under the display. They are named “Activities” and “Devices.” The “Activities” button changes the screen to highlight activities you have programmed (like the dimming of lights), and if you swipe the screen you can see your list of Favorite Channels.
The “Devices” button, when depressed, will show you a list of all of the devices you have connected to the remote—such as your TV, cable box, etc.—as well as any smart home products, like Google Home.
These buttons on the Elite make it very easy to navigate between your devices and activities, whereas with the previous Ultimate remote, finding these buttons was difficult and certainly not very intuitive.
Smart Home Function of the Elite and Ultimate Remotes
The Logitech Harmony Ultimate was able to connect to a number of smart home devices. This is something that the Elite also possesses. But in making the Elite, the Logitech Corporation also placed several physical buttons on the remote so that it is even easier to control smart home products such as thermostats and lights.
Unlike with the Logitech Harmony Ultimate, whose smart home features were only accessible from the touch screen, the Elite has four physical smart home buttons at the bottom of the device, each separated by a rocker switch in the middle. The left two buttons have icons for lights, while the right two have icons for power outlets. Using the mobile app, you can configure the buttons to control any connected smart home devices.
The Harmony Elite connects to far more home devices than the Harmony Ultimate, and the process for connecting these devices is much easier with the former than the latter.
Battery Life: Elite vs. Ultimate
The battery life for both the Elite and Ultimate is fairly the same. Depending on how much channel surfing you plan to do, both can last up to about two days on a single charge—and both have a battery life indicator on the remote. The remotes are charged in a weighted cradle, and both tend to charge rather quickly—in about a half-hour you can usually bring a “dead” Elite or Ultimate to 50 percent.
The Bottom Line
First, let us say that there is really no comparison to the Logitech brand of remotes for your home theater and smart devices throughout your home. The company is truly on the cutting edge of remote technology, and each offering they produce seems to be better and more advanced than the last.
The Logitech Harmony Ultimate is a good, sleek universal remote with RF, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, IR and 2.4-inch color touch screen that recognizes some gestures. However, the remote has poorly placed “transport” buttons—play, stop, rewind, etc—and it lacks a dedicated key for the forward and reverse skip functions. It has a rechargeable battery, but that battery is not replaceable, and its method for connecting to smart devices is relatively archaic and not very intuitive. It takes significant time to setup this remote for use, especially if you have a large and fairly intricate home theater system.
The Logitech Harmony Elite, however, has easy-to-find transport buttons located at the base of the machine, and a rechargeable battery that CAN be replaced by the user. What really sets this remote apart, however, is how easy it interfaces with smart devices throughout the home. The Logitech Harmony Elite has four dedicated, physical buttons for interacting with smart devices like Google Home and Amazon Alexa. It can dim lights and change the thermostat at the push of a button, and its squared design makes holding this remote more stable and secure.
Perhaps the only negative we can find in the Elite remote is the extra ounce in weight when compared to the Ultimate, but for those looking for the best remote on the market, the Logitech Harmony Elite should be the purchase of choice.