Logitech just announced 4 new Harmony products with new features that will allow it to interface with your Z-Wave home automation system. Finally! This is something I’ve been trying to do for some time now. But is Logitech late to the game?
According to Logitech’s press release,
With just a few easy steps your remote, tablet or smartphone can now control your TV, set-top box, speakers, lighting, thermostat, door locks, window shades and other popular devices. Plus, you can easily combine multiple devices into Activities to trigger at once so you can power on your TV, dim your lights, adjust the temperature and open your window shades all at the same time. You can start an Activity with one touch of your remote or mobile device, automatically on a custom schedule, or by passing a sensor. You can even trigger Activities from the Harmony Mobile App when you’re not at home.
Here’s some videos to share…
So let’s take a look at the new line-up…
Logitech Harmony Home Hub
This is the device that enables what Logitech is calling “The Harmony Living Home Experience”. It basically receives commands from the remote and controls household devices via RF, IR, Bluetooth, and Wi-Fi.
It can be bundled with the Harmony Ultimate Home or Harmony Home Control or purchased separately for $99.99.
Logitech Harmony Ultimate Home
This is the new high-end remote that includes a 2.4-inch color touch-screen. It allows you to integrate and control home automation devices and up to 15 entertainment center devices.
It will cost $349.99.
Logitech Harmony Home Control
This is basically the cheaper version of the Ultimate Home remote because it does not have the touch screen. In order to use the features you would get with the touch screen, you would have to use the mobile app which connects to the Harmony Home Hub.
It will cost $149.99.
Logitech Harmony Hub Extender
Here’s where it get interesting! The Harmony Hub Extender adds true home automation control to the remote and the Home Hub by enabling Z-Wave or ZigBee communication.
It will cost an additional $129.99 and won’t be available until December 2014.
My Journey with Logitech Harmony and Z-Wave Home Automation
I love Harmony remotes. I’ve been using them for years and I’ve recommended them to many of my friends and family. It was my first baby step into the world of home automation. It allowed me to hit one button and all of my entertainment center electronics would turn on and set to the right inputs.
Then, I got into Z-Wave home automation and discovered how much more I could do with the rest of my house.
Failed Attempt to Have Harmony Control Z-Wave
At one point, I upgraded my Logitech Harmony 650 Remote to a Logitech Harmony 890PRO Remote in order to use the Z-Wave capabilities that were built into that remote (and only that remote). I wanted to be able to hit a button on the Harmony and have it trigger a Z-Wave scene.
Unfortunately, the 890PRO was an older remote and the configuration application was so clunky and buggy, I was never able to get it to work the way I wanted.
Why My Harmony is Almost Obsolete
Later on, I figured out how to do the opposite. Instead of the Harmony controlling Z-Wave, I figured out how to make Z-Wave control my entertainment center.
What that did was make my Harmony unnecessary. I still use it just because it’s nice to have a physical remote. But, I could do without it by controlling my entertainment center with my phone via Tasker and/or Yatse, or with voice commands to the Xbox One.
Is Logitech Harmony Offering Too Little, Too Late, for Too Much?
It’s a little early to tell exactly what the capabilities are going to be, but it sounds like the Harmony Hub Extender is only going to offer Z-Wave protocol connectivity, I assume as a Z-Wave controller. Will it also allow Z-Wave to control the Harmony Home Hub? Or will it just be one-way from Harmony to Z-Wave.
If I were to guess, I think Logitech is trying so hard to be the center of home automation control that they are not going to allow Z-Wave to control Harmony.
I feel like this would leave me with 2 separate home automation systems that are trying to be the control center and I might have difficulty with 2-way communication.
Plus, why do I need this Harmony upgrade if I’ve already got my Z-Wave home automation system controlling my entertainment center?
As I mentioned, the Harmony Hub Extender (which enables Z-Wave) is not going to be available until December 2014.
If Logitech would have come out with this a year or two ago, I totally would have been on board with it. But, they are just too late for me. Either that or I’ve been ahead of my time.
If I were to upgrade my Harmony with Z-Wave connectivity, it would cost $280 – $580 before tax! I’m sorry, but that’s a bit steep for me especially considering my previous points.
But maybe you’re reading this thinking to yourself, “But this guy already has all of this Z-Wave stuff setup. I don’t. Maybe I’ll just go the Harmony route.” Well, in order to get any use out of the Harmony Hub Extender, you would need to already have a Z-Wave home automation system in place which costs money.
What About the Casual User Who Just Wants to Dabble in Home Automation?
Sure. If you don’t care about Z-Wave, these new Logitech Harmony products give you some select devices that you can control with just one of the remote+hub bundles, and you wouldn’t have to buy the Hub Extender. There’s no doubt that Logitech is making a great move into the home automation space and I’m sure the selection of compatible devices will continue to grow.
Question to Logitech:
In addition, all you would need to do, Logitech, is develop a Vera Plugin that enables the Vera to communicate back to the Harmony Home Hub, and then we’ve got 2-way communication between both systems.
If we have that, then there’s absolutely no need for the Harmony Hub Extender, right? Just food for thought.