Bonnie Cha

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Logitech Harmony Ultimate Remote Pairs Up With Smartphone Apps, Mood Lighting

Though Logitech is looking to sell its Harmony remote division, the company is continuing to release new products like the Harmony Ultimate and Harmony Smart Control, and is still expanding the capabilities of the universal remote.

Announced today, the Logitech Harmony Ultimate is the higher-end version of the two remotes, and is designed for the user who invests a fair amount of money on their home entertainment system.

Priced at $350, the kit includes a 2.4-inch touchscreen-enabled remote, much like the Harmony Touch I reviewed a couple of weeks ago, but with a couple of improvements. It now has a motion sensor, so the display awakens as soon as you pick up the remote. The screen also vibrates when you touch it, to let you know that it has registered your commands.

Meanwhile, the Harmony Smart Control is more of an entry-level model. The remote doesn’t offer a touchscreen, and it only connects up to eight devices, instead of 15 like the Harmony Ultimate. But it’s also cheaper, at $130.

Both remotes come with the new Harmony Hub. This puck-like device serves as an IR blaster, so you can control devices stored inside a media cabinet, and integrated Bluetooth brings support for game consoles like the Sony PlayStation 3, Nintendo Wii and Wii U.

Logitech is also thinking beyond traditional home entertainment equipment and remotes. Case in point: All of the Hub’s activities and remote functions can be operated via the Logitech Smartphone App (available on iOS and Android).

Though it doesn’t see conventional remotes going away anytime soon, the company recognizes that most people always have their smartphones within reach, and wanted to give customers the option of turning their mobile into a personal universal remote.

Logitech is also looking to incorporate more smart home features, starting with the Philips Hue Lights. Using Harmony Hub, you can adjust the brightness and color of the Wi-Fi-enabled lightbulbs using the Harmony Ultimate.

Chad Thompson, worldwide marketing director for Logitech, said the company is looking to add support for other home components, like thermostats, in the future.

Logitech announced its plan to sell the Harmony business in January, after reporting disappointing third-quarter earnings. However, a company representative said it will continue to support and develop products until a buyer is found.

The Logitech Harmony Ultimate is expected to be available later this month, while the Harmony Smart Control is scheduled for release in May.

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The problem with the Billionaire Savior phase of the newspaper collapse has always been that billionaires don’t tend to like the kind of authority-questioning journalism that upsets the status quo.

— Ryan Chittum, writing in the Columbia Journalism Review about the promise of Pierre Omidyar’s new media venture with Glenn Greenwald