Gadgets for humans

Logitech’s new Harmony Express is a universal remote powered by Alexa

Who needs all those buttons when you've got vocal cords?

Copy of High_Resolution_JPG-HarmonyExpress topdown marble graphite light on
Price $ 249.99 ProductHarmony Express by Logitech

Universal remotes can be a godsend if you have a myriad of individual controls for different devices. Logitech has long made some of the most popular universal remotes with its Harmony family of products, but the new Harmony Express adds a decidedly 2019 feature: Alexa.

It’s immediately obvious the Harmony Express is quite different to the universal remotes we’re used to, even Logitech’s own. Rather than having buttons for virtually every feature imaginable – or a touchscreen, when buttons don’t suffice – the Harmony express looks closer to the remote you might get with a streaming stick. It has a circular D-pad and a handful of buttons. The ‘select’ button at the center of the d-pad doubles as the all-important Alexa button, lighting up with a blue ring when in use, like a tiny Amazon Echo.

It should do just about anything you’d expect from universal remote, except often via voice commands instead of buttons. An included Harmony Blaster connects to your devices via infrared, Bluetooth, and/or Wi-Fi, and an IR mini blaster helps you extend coverage to devices without a line of sight from the controller.

You can use voice commands turn specific devices on or off, launch apps, go to specific channels, etc. Of course, you can also leverage Alexa for things you can’t do with a regular universal remote, like asking it when your favorite TV show is on or controlling your other smart devices.

I’m all for simplifying the universal remote, but I do have some reservations about relegating so many features to voice commands. That’s made more complicated by the sole inclusion of Alexa support. It may be the most popular voice assistant, but plenty of households are partial to Google Assistant or Siri. At $250, it’s also rather expensive. Still, it’s a unique approach to controlling your entertainment devices; we’ll let you know what we think once we’ve spent some time with the Harmony Express. If it’s already tickled your fancy, you can put in an order on Amazon or Logitech’s website today.

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Published April 16, 2019 — 21:44 UTC

Price $ 249.99 ProductHarmony Express by Logitech