Posts tagged “smart

Logitech Harmony Hub Review!!

One central remote, sometimes it’s a dream we never obtain; however, with technology anything is possible and it’s always fun when you’re incorporating it into a smarthome setup.

Enter Logitech Harmony (model 915-000238).


Design

There are no questions to be asked about the “cool” factor, it’s on 100 and this device gives you and your household the ability to manipulate the devices that are paired with your Harmony Hub.  This little guy works with TVs, Roku, Cable, video game consoles and even Phillips Hue lights (sorry I am on the TP-Link wagon) making this a solid addition to your living you and one that disappears given it’s unassuming look.


Setup

Setting up your Harmony Hub is very easy, it can be done either by connecting it to your PC via USB or simply downloading the Harmony app, which is preferred since you’ll need it to build activities and more later.  Once you have the hub connected to your network and running, you connect your devices.  Harmony will automatically detect devices that are connected and suggest that you add them (eg. Roku, Android TV, Apple TV and others).

Fair warning, simply because setup is easy does not mean that your activities (programmable scenes) will necessarily work all of the time.  Logitech uses a Start/End Sequence builder of getting things done, which work with a wide range of electronics, the only issue that I encountered was being able to consistently turn off and on my TV, with that being said, I created a generic “Activate TV” activity that will always run so that Harmony will always be awaiting my commands.  Hopefully, this is a hack that you do not need and is likely due to the age of my set, nearing 8 years.

HH_StartEndSequenceBuild

Logitech Activity builder.

Additionally, when creating an Activity, Harmony utilizes the Start Sequence to turn on all of the devices required for completion of that activity; however, at the end, during the End Sequence it wants to turn those same devices off — which makes no sense when you are watching Netflix, then want to issue the command “Watch Youtube”, which in the background is using the same set of devices.


Usage

Once you have Harmony setup the way you want, with any hacks that were needed to accomplish this setup, you pretty much set free to control your living room via your smartphone or digital assistant such as Google Assistant or Amazon’s Alexa.  Personally, I have my Harmony Hub integrated with Assistant so that I can utilize it with Google Home.  Integrating the two is different that most Home Control devices, so to accomplish this say “Hey Google, as Harmony to link my account”, from there you will be presented with a card that will allow you to link the two.

From there if all goes perfect, perhaps you can get an experience like the below (my original video was flagged for the music I asked Google to play, it happens):

Source: Caroline Dunn, YouTube

See the below example of activities I have created for my Harmony Hub setup:

IMG_1552.jpg


Final Impressions

The Harmony Hub is very powerful, but it is not for everyone.  Sometimes things work and other times they don’t….. The sequences that you do build are very powerful to accomplish tasks; however, in order to get simple things done can appear arduous and cumbersome but once things are in place, it is nothing short of magical.

DexJohn’s PC Score: 3.5/5

Why Roku Still Matters..

In an age where Apple TV, Android TV and Amazon Fire TVs are highlighted more than others, one pioneer of the smart tv falls to the background, Roku. Admit it, have you even heard of the Roku? I have and it was my very first foray into making a smarter living room in 2010, with it’s easy and beautiful interface — buying and transitioning into the smart TV world was a breeze.

Sample Roku interface.

Why does this happen? We are living in an age where the ecosystem of Apple and Google have grown significantly and they both are at phenomenal levels. One note is that on the TV side, these do mostly the same things, mostly. For example, you will not be able to enjoy your iTunes library or Airplay on any Android TV, just like you will not be able to Cast to an Apple TV or access the Play Store. This is why the Roku lineup is great — it is platform agnostic. Agnostic means that it is not going to place one certain platform over another or show favoritism to it’s own services (because Roku doesn’t have it’s own), so services like Google Play Movies, Netflix, Sling and more all work great.  
Roku is available in a variety of options. There is the Roku Express, Roku Streaming Stick, Roku Premiere/Premiere + and lastly the Roku Ultra, with both Premiere options and Ultra having being able to stream 4K content. Roku opens the user up to a variety of apps called “channels” that are easy to add from the built-in store.

Current Roku lineup as of October, 2016.

Bottom line: Try the Roku Player! With many different options to choose from, there is a Roku flavor to meet your needs, tastes and budget. Roku excels because of it’s ease of use and simple interface making it easy for new users and advanced users alike to come aboard.  Convinced?  Go here to see Roku for yourself.