I'll be honest, even as a tech lover, it took me a few frustrating false starts to set up the Harmony Elite's "activities" to work well with my Samsung Smart TV and modest theater setup. I had to change quite a few default settings manually (to not turn off the TV/speakers every time I wanted to go from cable to Netflix, for example), add some delays in (so the TV had time to load the requisite menus), and manually add other actions into the LCD screen menu (cable box and TV settings weren't easily accessible at first when in the other app, for example).
But overall, there are many things that I like about the Elite:
+ ERGONOMICS: Feels great in the hand, most buttons are easily accessible without having to shift in the hand too much
+ ALEXA INTEGRATION: Not 100% accurate, mind you, but it works enough that my wife and I can change the channel with our voices and adjust the volume hands-free (usually while feeding the baby). The smart home integration is solid too, though I haven't really used it that much to adjust the lights (Lutron).
+ IT KNOWS SO MANY DEVICES: So great to not have to flip back and forth between TV/cable remotes. Harmony is also able to include some functions that don't exist on the old remotes as physical buttons, which is great for programming macros/sequences. And it can control my lights and my Apple TV and my soundbar too!
+ HARMONY HUB AND IR BLASTERS: A lot of what I can do above is specifically because of the way the remote communicates with the Hub. The blasters helps reduce the likelihood of "misfires" where the remote triggers actions but the devices don't catch them.
Things that are good but could use work:
* DON'T FORGET THE LONG-PRESS: The ability to long-press buttons to trigger a separate action effectively doubles the functionality of the remote. That said, unless you have the MyHarmony app pulled up on the computer, it's not very easy to remember which long-press does what.
* HELP FUNCTION: I like that when my remote gets confused and doesn't turn everything and set the right inputs, the Help feature often can fix this. I don't like that the Help function can ONLY help with inputs and power on/off, and not with timing issues. Most of my problems stem from the remote not opening the correct app or the right menu at the right time.
* LCD SCREEN: Clear, easy to read, responsive... but almost too responsive at times. Sometimes when it's sitting next to me on the couch and I brush by it, it will trigger an activity, and then I have to wait until the activity is done before I can undo my mistake.
* Mobile app: I have used it to some success, but the physical remote always trumps the
Things that could be better:
- NO BELKIN WEMO SMARTPLUG INTEGRATION: I can create workarounds to some extent with IFFFT commands, but if the integration was already there, I'd probably be much more likely to use the smarthome buttons on the Elite.
- INITIAL SETUP: For most people, this will be the single most tedious part of the process. I spent several days working on this -- through the mobile app, through the desktop app, on the remote itself... FYI, the desktop app is by far the most useful way to fine-tune the remote. I can see this driving away casual users, but I guess how many casual users are plopping down $200+ for a universal remote?
- DEVICE "SWITCHING": Unless you already added it to the LCD menu, it takes quite a few button pressed to access a function when it's not on the current mapped device -- for example, when I'm using the activity "Watch TV" the Elite is mapped to my DVR remote... so if I want to adjust the brightness settings on my TV for some reason, I have to either: 1) Create a macro that makes that menu pop up, or 2) Hit the Device button, scroll down to select my TV as the mapped device, then swipe back to the proper menu on the LCD, change the settings, then hit the Device button to go back to mapping the DVR remote. It would be much faster to just pick up the old remote!
- BATTERY LIFE: Maybe it's because I turned on the setting where the remote recognizes when it's tilted and turns on the LCD screen, but the remote only seems to last three days at a time before needing to go back in the cradle.
- PS4 PRO POWER ON: Yes, I know it's Sony who decided not to let anything but their devices turn on the PS4 Pro, but it is something that makes me less likely to use the machine for playing BluRay and for streaming apps, even though the audio quality is best through this device (at least in my setup).
The Harmony Elite is supposed to be the remote to end all remotes, and I can see how it has tremendous staying power and versatility. It feels great and can control sooooo many devices. It could stand to be a little more intuitive, especially when setting up menus and activities, and also a bit faster in reaction time... but hey, it does about 99% of what I need it to do and it allows me to put (at least) three other remotes away for good. Plus, the handsfree-with-Alexa option is something I didn't expect to use but ended up really enjoying. I'd love to see how the Elite works on an even fancier setup than what I have. Now to teach my parents and in-laws how to use this...