HARMONY ELITE

$350

Program settings from romantic to favorites

The Elite is the flagship product of Logitech's Harmony line.

To set it up, users pair Harmony's smartphone app or the included remote with the Elite's hub, a black flying saucer-like device that sends infrared, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth signals to a home theater's various components.

The Elite can also control other connected home devices, like thermostats, Philips' Hue lighting system or smart door locks. Activities can then be programmed that combine multiple functions. For example, selecting "cocktail hour" on the remote's touch screen could automatically turn down the lights, close the curtains and turn on one's Sonos system to play a cool jazz channel.

The Elite can be controlled by the included remote, which also displays icons for favorite channels, or its smartphone app.

Pronto

$50

Pronto interprets differing signals

The problem with using a smartphone as a universal remote interface? Phones send only Wi-Fi or Bluetooth signals, while standard home theater components communicate using infrared (or IR).

The Pronto solves that problem by acting as a go-between, receiving the smartphone signals and then transmitting mostly infrared ones.

The black Pronto, which looks a lot like a salt shaker, is placed within line of sight of one's home theater components. If it has to be hidden, an IR-receiver wire can be connected to the Pronto and kept exposed.

The system is configured using the free Peel app, versions of which are available for the iPhone, Android phones and the Apple watch. Components are added manually to the app and then grouped together to create an activity, such as watching TV or playing a Blu-ray disk.

The Peel app also features an illustrated list of popular shows organized by genre. There are a few drawbacks. Because the Pronto receives signals from the Peel app using a smartphone's Bluetooth signal, only one phone at a time can be designated the home's universal remote. Also, the Pronto transmits only IR signals, so it cannot be used with devices that communicate using only Wi-Fi or Bluetooth, like Amazon's Fire TV.

NEW YORK TIMES