Tech

Logitech launches Alexa-enabled Harmony Express universal remote

Building on its past home entertainment controls, Logitech is launching the Logitech Harmony Express universal remote control with built-in Amazon Alexa voice recognition capability.

The addition of integrated voice allowed Logitech’s designers to completely rethink the Harmony experience.

“It’s quite a bit different from the previous Harmonies, as there are quite a bit fewer buttons,” said Ian Crowe, director of products for Harmony at Logitech, in an interview. “It’s much simpler, yet has many of the same capabilities of the previous ones. We accomplish that through putting Alexa directly into the product itself.”

The Harmony Express is available immediately in the U.S. on Amazon.com and Logitech.com for $250, and it will be available in Best Buy
stores and at BestBuy.com soon. An active Amazon Account is required to use Harmony Express since it uses the Alexa voice service. But you do not need an Amazon Prime subscription.

Above: Logitech Harmony is a universal remote with voice assistance.

Image Credit: Dean Takahashi

Harmony Express uses a different app than existing Harmony remotes, and it is available for download today on iOS and Android.

You can enable your Amazon Echo or any other far-field devices to control your Harmony Express. For example, you can say “Alexa, Turn on TV”, and Harmony Express will take care of turning on the required devices.

Crowe said the addition of Alexa makes the whole TV control experience better in a typical setup in a lot of homes. For instance, if you have a TV, cable TV service, an Apple TV, a Sonos sound bar, and a Microsoft Xbox One, you’ll need at least three remote controls.

“That creates confusion and headaches,” Crowe said. “People want a consistent experience across all their TV watching and entertainment needs. But having Alexa built into the remote allows us to then have control of these things in a much more seamless way.”

Above: Logitech Harmony

Image Credit: Dean Takahashi

You can simply say, “Turn on TV” while pressing the Harmony Express button. You can also say, “Switch to Apple TV.” Logitech’s Harmony app, with your help, can figure out which input source goes with which device. So if your cable TV service is available on HMDI 1, then Harmony Express will switch to that input as you command it to do so with your voice.

Usually, to accomplish that, I have to go press various input buttons. That saves a considerable amount of pain for people who can’t remember what is on HDMI 1 or HDMI 2.

With Alexa, you don’t have to remember a lot of channel numbers either. You can simply say, “Go to ESPN” while pressing the Harmony remote’s button, and it will know how to navigate to the right channel.

Above: Logitech Harmony Express

Image Credit: Logitech

“In this case, we happen to know we’re here in San Francisco we’re using Comcast and that ESPN is a particular channel,” Crowe said.

You can also say, “Go to NatGeo” and you will get to the National Geographic channel. If you say, “Go to Netflix app,” it will switch over to the Apple TV and directly open the Netflix app. It works whether you are watching live TV on a cable channel or a streaming app. You could also go to less common apps like, “Go to NBA app.”

Over time, the Harmony Express voice search will get better. You could say, in the future, “Watch the Giants game,” and it will find a particular game on a sports channel for you. If you plug the remote’s hub into your Wi-Fi network, then it will discover all the various devices that are connected to the network. You can decide to leave some devices off the network, like a TV in a kid’s room.

Content sourced fromTNW

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