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Logitech's new Harmony remotes can command your entire smart home

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Harmony remotes have been an essential tool in any serious home theater setup for years now, but today Logitech's turning its focus to home automation and controlling every room in your house. It's just announced new, rebranded versions of its upper-tier remotes, which now all fall under the "Harmony Living Home" line. To be clear, the Harmony Ultimate remote was previously able to control Nest's thermostat, Philips Hue lightbulbs, and other popular home devices. But that list will soon grow even larger (adding things like August's Smart Lock), and the software that controls everything has been completely revamped to make lowering your blinds, locking your doors, and turning down the lights far more intuitive. Don't worry, though: these remotes haven't lost any functionality in your living room and retain all of the home theater power you'd expect.

No more syncing with awful PC software

The top-of-the-line Ultimate Home remote doesn't look all that different from last year's Harmony Ultimate — aside from now coming in white. It's got a 2.4-inch touch display that allows you to trigger custom "experiences" (for when you wake up in the morning, head to work, etc.) or change a device's settings on the spot. And just like its predecessor, it'll cost $349.99. Logitech plans to offer a trade-up program with Best Buy for those that feel the need to own its latest and greatest hardware without delay. Moving down to the $149.99 Harmony Home Control gets you a button-only remote, but it still comes with the Harmony Hub — a small black device that communicates with everything in your house over Wi-Fi, IR, Bluetooth, and RF — which normally retails for $99 on its own. Those three products will be available this month. A $129 extender that adds compatibility with devices operating through the ZigBee or Z-Wave protocols will come later in December.

Buying just the hub allows you to use Harmony's system with your Android or iOS smartphone and control the activities you've set up both at home and from afar. And that's a fine option to choose, since Logitech has put a ton of work into reworking its mobile software. At the top level are your "experiences" that can set off a number of activities based on your daily routine. If you've got all the right components, Logitech's system can open your blinds in the morning, bring up the lights, tune your TV to CNN, and even turn on your connected coffee maker. As always, you can dive deeper into any device in your home to get it behaving just the way you want. Best of all, none of that requires a PC or clunky syncing anymore; everything gets handled via the app — even for the cheaper remote. In our brief demo, it looked to be some of the more impressive software Logitech's built in years, and you'll be able to get a better feel for it starting today on Android; the iOS version is coming very soon.