Logitech Harmony Express Review: Easy to Set Up, Sometimes Annoying to Use
Logitech Harmony remotes are among the most robust and powerful universal remotes out there. But all that power leads to complicated setup processes and a confusing controller. The $250 Harmony Express wants to simplify things. Does it succeed? Yeah, mostly.
The Harmony Express is an unusual universal remote system from Logitech. The controller itself is so nondescript it could be confused for a Roku remote. You won’t find a display or even very many buttons. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t powerful.
Harmony Express can do nearly anything any other Harmony remote system can do, and it has an additional trick up its sleeve. The remote doubles as an Amazon Echo, giving you voice control of your media center. You can turn on your TV, open Netflix, or start up your PS4 or Xbox all by voice. And thankfully, commands are natural to use too: “Open Xbox” will turn on your TV, surround sound, and Xbox while moving everything to the correct source.
Unfortunately, voice control isn’t an optional feature. Anytime you want to use change sources, say from Xbox to your Roku, you have to use your voice to make the jump. The controller doesn’t have any input or source button at all.
But what really makes Harmony Express special is how easy it is to set up.
Setup is a Breeze
I have a pretty complicated media center that involves a Roku TV with an Xbox, a PS4, and a surround sound system. And the surround sound system also plays host to a Nintendo Switch, a Wii U, and an Nvidia Shield. Despite that fact, I still had the Harmony Express up and running in about fifteen minutes.
That’s in no small part due to the Harmony Express’s incredibly intuitive app. I positioned the main Harmony IR blaster and the mini-blaster and plugged it in. The main blaster goes out in the open, and the mini-blaster is useful for when a stereo or other IR device is blocked by the doors of your entertainment center. Just tuck it in front of the blocked device. After connecting my Amazon and Logitech accounts, the Harmony Express automatically found my TV, Xbox, PS4, and Switch, thanks to their Wi-Fi connections. It walked me through a pairing process with each and then allowed me to add my stereo and Wii U manually.
Once the stereo was programmed, sorting out sources was a simple drag and drop process. You drag the icon for a device (like Roku, or Nvidia Switch), and drop it onto the appropriate connection, like HDM1 or HDMI2.
The app automatically prompted me to pair to my Xbox and Playstation and asked questions about when I should hear sound from the TV and when it should pump through the stereo system. In short order, I was ready to use the controller.