Just a few short years ago, Logitech attempted to jettison the entire Harmony product line. Fortunately, management reconsidered and doubled down on the historically unmatched universal remote controls. Yet, I’m not entirely feeling their latest entrant, the Logitech Harmony Express.
Harmony Express diminutive proportions belie its expense, running a fairly lofty $250. And, whereas most Harmonies rely on buttons and/or screens to control scenes and devices, the primary Express interface is voice – via Alexa, visualized by a spiffy Alexa-hued light ring embedded within the directional pad. However, voice makes a nice enhancement, a way to augment existing control … but certainly isn’t efficient for each and every activity. Such as, I suspect, running one’s entire entertainment center. Not to mention my three year old would surely be flummoxed by what looks to be a conspicuously absent power button.
Beyond the limited-button remote itself, like most recent Harmony products, and dedicated, new Harmony app is a bundled Hub whose primary duties consist of relaying IR commands to our various devices. Further, a smaller IR puck is also being provided to string into closed cabinets, for those who have a need. But Caavo, a recent entrant into this space, is tackling this problem in a somewhat different and perhaps more compelling manner.
Beyond just wireless network hub functionality, the Caavo “control center” also has a television interface and acts as a 4K HDR HDMI switch – which has great practical value. And the total package runs significantly less than the Harmony Express. With a power button. And somewhat more optional voice control. The Verge covers pretty much all the details, including some burgeoning machine vision innovations to “smartify” the whole thing. In fact, Logitech’s misstep here has encouraged me to pick up a Caavo. MSRP runs $100, plus service if you so choose, although it’s often on sale – as it is today at Amazon.