The Logitech Harmony Companion is a universal remote consisting of a base with a remote control that doesn’t require IR to communicate with the base station (“hub”). The hub is capable of sending IR signals to all of your compatible devices and you may install up to 2 extenders which are used to increase the IR coverage of your remote.
Initial setup is guided via the Harmony app on your phone, tablet or computer. Using my phone our Apple TV was immediately recognized, and then it was a process of adding the additional devices. Before purchasing I made sure to verify device compatibility with all of our hardware. Fortunately, even if your device isn’t fully supported it is possible to connect the hub to your computer and use the MyHarmony app to reprogram the controls for your device.
The remote itself is comfortable and easy to use, it is similar to our TiVo remote in many respects so it’s a natural fit for our needs. To control our second-generation AppleTV it was necessary to unpair the current Apple remote for the commands to be acknowledged.
One unique requirement was the J-Tech JTD4KAT0501SW HDMI switch. This is the primary switch between all of our HDMI inputs including the TiVo, Apple TV and DVD player. It’s a capable device and even includes SPDIF optical out with ARC and 5.1 support. To get this to work correctly it was necessary to adjust the device configuration to repeat the commands.
Command repeat is done in the Harmony app from the device edit (Edit Devices) and after selecting the device (J-Tech switch) choose “Command Repeats”. Using this at the highest level of 3 repeats allows for the J-Tech to respond to requests for switching input.
The remote allows for three “scenes” to be created using the primary buttons (Music, TV and Movies). Each scene can turn on any number of devices and prepare them for however you wish them to be used. For example, in my Movie Scene the TV, Apple TV, J-Tech HDMI switch and my receiver all turn on; then the correct inputs on each device are selected. Another example of this is my TV Scene where the TiVo is selected and starts on the Tivo Central page, this avoids having to fiddle with my inputs and then trying to get to the TiVo button before some random broadcast television show blasts through my living room.
So far the only real downside is some of the activities may take a while. Additionally, editing scenes is somewhat limited and while new steps may be added it’s not possible to remove steps that were added by the wizard. Finally, if you have the Amazon Alexa or a SmartThings hub you can use the Companion to control these devices as well. Imagine a scene that includes dimming your lights and adjusting the thermostat!