Looking for something to control absolutely everything in your entertainment center, plus your RF-enabled refrigerator? Then unfortunately you're going to have to cough up some dough. But if you hurry and head over to Amazon, you can do it for considerably less: the retailer is selling the Logitech Harmony Ultimate Remote for $199.99. That's pretty insane for a remote, even one with customizable controls and a touchscreen, but it's actually $150 off of the retail price.
Some homes are smart, and the Logitech Harmony serves as their brain. It provides a single location to control all the things, assuming of course that the products are supported. The latest update adds quite a few more to the list ranging from door locks to thermostats and a few things in between.
Logitech is older than I am. Not too much older, mind you - the Switzerland-based computer accessory company was founded in 1981 - but old enough that I can remember my dad using a Logitech keyboard on the home-built desktop he ran on a desk in the closet, back when having a computer in the living room was still a social faux pas. When the entire family upgraded to laser mice, an insane and futuristic luxury in the early 2000s, the friendly Logitech logo was emblazoned on all of them.
The Logitech Harmony can control basically your entire house if you have the right hardware, and that's more true than ever now that v4.1 is out with support for more devices. There are also a few other tweaks, making for a nice little update.
With Logitech Harmony, people can control a large number of devices spread throughout their houses from a single remote or Android device. These various electronics, ranging from home entertainment systems to smart light bulbs, all communicate to a single hub.
Now Logitech is launching the Harmony API for third-party developers, so products that communicate with its system can then go on to interact with other ones.
To paint a picture of how this works, imagine the lights dimming automatically when you start a movie, having music start playing when you enter the room, or turning on the TV with a simple command.
Update: Want a slightly older model for an even better price? The Harmony Smart Control package is $79.99, fifty dollars off, and includes most of the same functionality. It's lacking the included buttons on the larger remote for home automation, which won't matter much if you don't have any compatible hardware and/or you intend to use your smartphone anyway. This deal also disappears after today.
You can control your Chromecast with your Android phone. You can control a Roku, Android TV, game console, or even your cable box with your phone. But unless you own one of the Samsung or HTC devices with a built-in infrared port, you probably can't control a TV set or a DVD or Blu-Ray player without reaching for some stone age hunk of plastic.
Logitech's got a new Android app on the Play Store, and it doesn't have anything to do with Bluetooth mobile accessories. This one's for the gamers: Arx Control is a WiFi system monitor for gaming PCs and a customization extension for Logitech's line of PC gaming accessories. It's a free download, at least if you've got a Logitech G-series device... or you lie and go to the download page for the free Logitech Gaming Software program for Windows. I won't tell if you won't.
Arx works on phones and tablets, connecting to the Gaming Software on your local WiFi network.
It's basically my job to type, so I type a lot. There's quite a bit more to it than that, of course, but typing is kind of the cornerstone of being a writer of any kind. Because of the amount of typing I do, a good keyboard is important. Not just a good keyboard for my desktop and laptop, but when I'm going to be doing some work on my tablet, I need something I can trust there, too. I've tried several mobile-friendly keyboards, and the current king of the hill is the Logitech K810 Bluetooth keyboard. It's a little beast of a keyboard, has backlighting, and is super comfortable to use for extended periods of time.
Logitech makes some of the finest universal remotes available, with all sorts of buttons and touchscreens. The Harmony remotes might be super-neat, but the Android app has long suffered from a terminal case of ugly. Well, no more with the most recent update. It looks like an app you'd want to use.
Desk space is a valuable commodity for most of us, and the last thing anybody wants to do is sacrifice a huge area to put down a second keyboard. On the other hand, who among us doesn't hate to switch back and forth between the keyboard and your phone while working and responding to text messages? If this is a familiar feeling, Logitech's just announced K480 Bluetooth keyboard might fit your not-so-uncommon demands. It's designed to connect with up to 3 devices simultaneously, and switch between them with the turn of a dial.
The K480 sports a groove to prop up a phone or tablet, or both.