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How many steps does it take for you to watch, say, Netflix? Find the remote. Turn on the TV. Turn on the sound bar. Switch the input to Roku. And, finally, choose the Netflix channel. Sheesh, I could binge-watch a season of “Travelers” by the time all that’s done!
Okay, maybe that’s an exaggeration (though you should definitely binge-watch “Travelers”), but this is 2018, right? The era of automation. From now on, I just want to plunk down on my couch and say, “Alexa, turn on Netflix!”
That kind of automation requires a hub. Like this one: For a limited time, and while supplies last, Amazon has the Logitech Harmony Smart Control for $59.99. (Walmart has it for the same price with in-store pickup.) The hub itself sells for $100 direct from Logitech; this bundle includes a remote as well. Update: Agh! Mere minutes after I posted this deal, it appears to be out of stock. Still available at Walmart, though! (At some stores, anyway.)
The Smart Control system is a few years old, but still plenty viable thanks to updates from Logitech — sorry, Logi 😒 — and native smartphone support. Yep, your phone plays a big part in what you can do with this hub, from controlling home-theater gear to operating smart-home devices.
I’m not intimately acquainted with the setup, though, so allow me to turn you over to CNET’s. It’s definitely a bit out of date, predating even the existence of the Amazon Echo line, but it’ll give you a good feel for the core features.
The upshot: The universal RF-based remote can control up to eight devices, while the hub delivers commands via IR or Bluetooth. And it can link with Alexa, though I’m not sure about Google Home.
If you’ve already purchased one of these, be sure to hit the comments and let your fellow cheeps know what you like, don’t like, etc. I think the remote alone is worth $60, though the lack of a touchscreen does limit its versatility. Plus, be prepared for a potentially aggravating setup process, owing to Logitech’s A-for-effort, C-for-execution software.
Bonus deal: Qi chargers are kind of a dime a dozen these days, but just in case you haven’t found the ideal deal yet, Choetech (via Amazon) has the WPC-certified T511 Qi anti-slip charging pad for $9.99 when you apply promo code 3PSBIKTS.
I learned recently that the Wireless Power Consortium requires rigorous testing for products to earn that certification. Those that don’t have it may expose you to “safety risks due to overheating, device damage risk and incompatibility risk,” according to a WPC rep. Want to know if a product is certified? Check the WPC’s database.
Normally $15, the T511 is a small, simple pad designed for phones that support Qi charging. Although it’s not specified on the product page, a Choetech rep told me the pads are covered by an 18-month warranty. (I inquired because at least a handful of reviews cited product failure after a few weeks or months.)
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