Is the Harmony hub worth it?

I'm curious to hear about other's experience in using the Harmony hub + remote with Sonos. I'm considering a purchase, but just not seeing a lot of advantage. I understand that it really has more to do with everything else you've got, not just your Sonos system.

In terms of just Sonos, the harmony app and remote can't do anything more than the Sonos app can do...less actually. It does allow a limited integration with Amazon's Echo (which I have), but Sonos has promised to integrate directly.

That means it comes down to 'everything else'. In terms of getting the HT audio and tv turned on at the right inputs, that isn't a big deal for me. I do have a playbar, so TV audio is automatically on when the tv is sending it signals. Nothing for Harmony to do there. If I didn't have a playbar, I think Harmony would get my purchase on this feature alone. On the TV, I have 3 inputs. Blu-ray is used rarely, maybe every other month, so Harmony can't help out much there. The other 2 inputs are the Fire TV and cable. I'll start with Cable first.

The Cable is Xfinity X1, controlled with a universal remote. I can turn on the tv, and control the playbar volume with no issues. I rarely actually watch channels, preferring the DVR and streaming services, so I don't know that Harmony's routines to navigate to specific channels and such would be useful to me. The only plus I see is being able to turn on the tv through the Echo. Nice, but not that big of a deal.

On to the Fire TV. It isn't controlled by Xfinity's universal remote, but hitting any key on the fire tv remote will automatically turn on the tv and/or switch to the correct input. In other words, tv input switching isn't a big problem for me. Most of the time, I am not switching between inputs during a tv watching session. I could control the Fire TV through Harmony, but that doesn't get me much. There might be a useful advantage with setting up harmony activities on Echo. Say I want to go directly to youtube on the fire tv for example.

As far as controlling various smarthome items around the house, I feel like I've got that covered already. I got Lutron, Smartthings and such already setup and controlled through Echo already. It would be nice to be able turn off lights when the tv is on sort of thing, but only 'nice'.

I get the value of harmony hub, particularly if you're just starting out with getting control of your audio, video, and things, but it feels like perhaps I'm too far along with other solutions to really get enough benefit out of it. I should also add that I don't have a wife to appease, so simplicity isn't as big of a concern. My two kids only watch fire tv, and as mentioned, that's is. They usually leave the music up to me, or are satisfied with the echo (again, should be solved soon).

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11 replies

I would never buy a Harmony remote because of the Sonos control, it's just not that useful aside from volume control. On the other hand, I would never be without my Harmony Hub remote for everything else; DVR, Cable, Fire TV, Blu-ray, A/V receiver, etc. It simply can't be beat as a media remote.
Thanks jgate. If you A/V receiver out of the equation and DVR/Cable is the same box, do you still think it's worth it?

And out of curiosity, which version of Harmony do you have?
I have two, the old Harmony Ultimate for the HT, and the Smart Control for the bedroom. I only have DVR/Cable and Fire TV in the bedroom, so I guess my answer is yes, I do think it is worth it. I just can't stand switching remotes and the fact Harmony Hubs work with the Bluetooth based streamers is worth extra $$.
I've got two, an Elite and something else with a Hub (the remote isn't marked, and I don't remember which it is). Both of them are excellent, controlling TV, BluRay, DirecTV, PS4, and even occasionally my Hue lighting. Don't use them for Sonos, don't want to. But I've been a fan of Harmony remotes for at least 10 years, maybe more. Once you've set them up, they just work. Kind of like my Sonos... 🙂
Darnit. I was hoping to get negative views so I could write it off the wish list. Now I have seriously think about it.

Thanks for the replies guys. Are you using Harmony along with Echo? For the fire tv, I know that would be controlled via Bluetooth, but is everything else, A/V wise, controlled through IR? Do you have any devices that can be controlled through wifi? Both my tv and Blu-ray are 'smart' and theoretically should be able to control through wifi (then even have controller apps for the phone). I suppose I would need to research that better myself based on the specific models.
I use mine with Echo. The Harmony skill has some quirks (I can't get it to "Turn on NESN" no matter how I spell the keyword, can only use it with one remote/hub), but it works for most other stuff.

Sonos is controlled via WiFi, so I know that works. So does lighting. Don't have any others, but I don't see why they won't. Harmony remotes are really robust this stuff. The database of supported devices is as complete and extensive as any I've seen. As said above, they just work (and in the very few cases they don't, you can program them with the new codes).
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I also have the harmony hub and an echo. I would not get the harmony just to control sonos, since sonos is expecting to officially integrate with echo later this year. But it's a nice perk right now if you also want the harmony hub to control your tv gear. Personally I think the harmony hub is fantastic, especially paired with the echo.

The integration between harmony, sonos and echo is limited and clunky and you either have to name the harmony activity just right, or bring IFTTT into the mix. If you are really interested I can describe the process, which is laborious.

jgatie, you may already know this, but you can give NESN a "friendly name" that echo might understand (like "Red Sox") in the harmony skill. You have to disable the skill, then reenable it so you can edit it. Alexa hears me fine when I tell it to "turn on the Yankees." 🙂
I've tried it all. It seems to work with other channels, but NESN fails with any name I've given it. Inquired at Logitech about it, but got no reply. Maybe the Logitech engineers are Yankee fans, or even worse, Canadiens fans.
I think the engineers are just down the road here, which would make them Giants fans, or Sharks fans. Anything would be better than Yankees or Red Sox!

The Sharks have fans? I always thought people went to their games to cool off.
I gave up on Hockey years ago, when I left D.C. and the Caps. That was a long time ago.