AMAZON ECHO + HARMONY

Drongo

Well-known Member
Hi

I'm toying with buying an Amazon echo and/or Dot.

I'm totally new to Smart Home products and would like some advice please.

Initially I would like to switch on/off my TV's, raise/lower volume and select inputs via voice control.

I'm not sure what I need. Do I need the Harmony Home Hub plus a remote or just the Hub?

Or do I need either? As my TV is connected to the internet via my router; is the Echo smart enough to control the TV directly?

Also; I have (but I'm not using at the moment) two older Harmony remotes; the 885 and The Harmony One - not the Ultimate One. I'm not sure if I can use either of these remotes with the Echo and/or the Home Hub.

Any advice would be appreciated.

Cheers.
 

peter-d-w

Active Member
You can just use the hub by itself with Alexa but you will probably find it easier to get a new remote at the same time. Amazon has a good price on the Harmony companion or the Ultimate. I think whatever remote you have needs to be paired with the hub and I have no idea if your existing remotes would be compatible. If you buy a package then the remote and hub come ready paired.
 

Drongo

Well-known Member
You can just use the hub by itself with Alexa but you will probably find it easier to get a new remote at the same time. Amazon has a good price on the Harmony companion or the Ultimate. I think whatever remote you have needs to be paired with the hub and I have no idea if your existing remotes would be compatible. If you buy a package then the remote and hub come ready paired.
Thank you; I appreciate the answer.

I'm still a little confused as to how things would be easier by having the remote.

If I use the Amazon Echo to voice control the Hub; I cannot what role the remote would play.

Are you saying that there are things that the Echo + Hub cannot do and that I may ned to have a remote to do those things?

Cheers.
 

peter-d-w

Active Member
You won't always want to control things by voice. It will sometimes be quicker and easier to pick up the remote. As the price on Amazon for the Hub & Remote isn't much more that the price for the hub by itself it seems sensible to buy them both.
 

Drongo

Well-known Member
You won't always want to control things by voice. It will sometimes be quicker and easier to pick up the remote. As the price on Amazon for the Hub & Remote isn't much more that the price for the hub by itself it seems sensible to buy them both.
Ah; understood.

Thank you that makes sense.

Appreciate the clarification.

Edit: Is there a particular Harmony Hub compatible remote that people would recommend? Is there much of a difference between the various models?

Cheers.
 

Lancia34

Distinguished Member
So I've had Alexa since it came out and have had a harmony touch remote for years. Recently got the hub so I can better change activities etc.. as all my equipment is behind glass doors (child proof) so the remote doesn't always hit everything.

Got it all setup yesterday with Alexa and for changing activities, which will be my main use, it works great - bit long winded command but the updated skill hopefully will be out soon in the UK. Will even load Netflix on my Smart TV which is cool although you need the remote (or phone) to navigate.

I have to say I think for doing general remote things it could be a bit of a pain especially if your volume is high...it works but I prefer just grabbing the remote to change the volume, move around menus.

One thing I need is a mono splitter to add more than two IR blasters to the hub. Got a stereo 2.5mm splitter but it doesn't work and struggling to find the correct one.


It's not perfect but so far I'm quite happy with it although whether I'd pay full price I'm not sure...
 

flynnmeister

Active Member
I managed to get the harmony elite on prime day with the hub.

I'm running yonomi to trigger harmony activities through Alexa - I've only setup one scene so far (bloody kids) and it works like this:

Alexa, turn on "Watch TV"
Alexa, Turn off "Watch TV"

This tells yonomi to trigger the activity Watch TV which in turn tells harmony to turn on the TV, receiver and sky box and set the channel to Nick Jr HD :rotfl:

I've not tried the native harmony skill but I've heard it's not great. For volume and channel changes I'm still using the remote. I don't think voice control will replace the volume button but maybe channel changes.
 

Lancia34

Distinguished Member
The native skill works fine but requires a longer command. They have recently released a new skill in the US which does away with the "ask harmony" bit so hopefully will come out over here soon.

I used to use Yonomi but found it unreliable and of course needed to have my phone with me to use it which was a pain.

I agree about about the change channle bit - tried it a few times last night and works well "Alexa, ask harmony to change to Dave"
 

flynnmeister

Active Member
The native skill works fine but requires a longer command. They have recently released a new skill in the US which does away with the "ask harmony" bit so hopefully will come out over here soon.

I used to use Yonomi but found it unreliable and of course needed to have my phone with me to use it which was a pain.

I agree about about the change channle bit - tried it a few times last night and works well "Alexa, ask harmony to change to Dave"
Why do you need your phone to use yonomi? The wife turns the tv on/off via Alexa whilst my phone is at work with me.

I need to look at the native skill a bit more I think :D
 

Lancia34

Distinguished Member
Why do you need your phone to use yonomi? The wife turns the tv on/off via Alexa whilst my phone is at work with me.

I need to look at the native skill a bit more I think :D
This was last year but you had to have Yonomi running on your phone as it was that app that controlled it all. Maybe they've changed it in the Alexa skill now

I think Yonomi is more flexible so if a phone isn't required them maybe I'll try it again
 

chudas

Active Member
You definitely do not need the phone with you for yonomi triggers to work. @flynnmeister I have the trigger named "TV" so my command is just, Alexa, turn on TV and Alexa, turn off TV. Much more natural than Alexa, turn on watch TV.
 

flynnmeister

Active Member
Tried to add the native harmony skill last night but my hub needs a f/w upgrade which you have to connect it to a laptop to do :thumbsdow So I'm still using yonomi :D
 

Lancia34

Distinguished Member
Got the hub linked to my PS4 last night - good to be able to use the remote now to control the PS4 but obviously there are issues with shutdown etc... which don't work.

I've given up with trying to find a splitter for the IR blasters and am getting an IR extender with USB power for my amp so I can run it into another cabinet which will solve my issue as I should be able to hit everything with just the two IR blasters.
 

Lancia34

Distinguished Member
Well the USB powered IR extender works a treat just running the power off my TV. Had to change the shutdown order so TV was last to switch off as it was first and would then cut power to the extender.

All working nicely via Alexa now so I'm happy :)
 

bootyman81

Distinguished Member
I think the important question is...when the heck are we getting the smart skill...I’m tired of asking Alexa to ask harmony.

Will we ever?
 

Khazul

Well-known Member
You won't always want to control things by voice. It will sometimes be quicker and easier to pick up the remote. As the price on Amazon for the Hub & Remote isn't much more that the price for the hub by itself it seems sensible to buy them both.
By the time you have said "Alexa, ask harmony to turn on watch tv" it always quicker to just pick up a remote or use your phone app.
Also its annoying that there seems to be no "Ask harmony to turn off". I think in the US, you don't have to use this ask harmony rubbish all the time. I also have smartthings which I think might have made the harmony activities more directly usable.

Alexa routines helps a little but it seems that any routine with anything TV related in causes confusion (I think "Turn on TV" is reserved). I did get a "Turn on music" routine to work. However I think the only reason this works is because smartthings might have promoted the harmony activities to smart home scenes and therefore made them available to alexa routines.

I ended up with the hub+companion and echo dot. I also have the remote controlling living rooms hue lights via hue as well as a smartthings outlet in addition to AV equipment.
 

aVdub

Distinguished Member
Using 'Alexa TV off' works much better for me than having to add Harmony to the command everytime.

This is through the Yonomi app
 

bootyman81

Distinguished Member
Using 'Alexa TV off' works much better for me than having to add Harmony to the command everytime.

This is through the Yonomi app
I have just downloaded this app and will try it out tonight.
Is it easy to integrate/use?
 

Lancia34

Distinguished Member
I tell Alexa to ask Harmony to turn off television all the time
Me too - no issue with it at all and only a few extra words. I usually have my harmony remote stored on top of a cabinet so much quicker to just tell Alexa.
 

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