Logitech stopped production of its Harmony line of universal remotes over a year ago. No more new products are being manufactured. Logitech was one of the few remaining companies to offer intelligent, connected universal remote controls. Now it’s up to other manufacturers to pick up what’s left of the market. The company SofaBaton is now also one of them.
Logitech was also very popular with Apple HomeKit users with its Harmony Elite remote control, for example, but mainly because of the Harmony IR Hub and its integration options in the smart home. The Harmony Hub could be used via a corresponding Homebridge plugin and provided local control of infrared devices and activities in HomeKit as well. Thus, the gaming activity could be started via Siri or through a scene, which turns on the TV and the gaming console in one go and immediately selects the correct video input.
This is where the new SofaBaton X1 remote control with the X1 hub comes into play. Both devices are well manufactured. The power supply is via USB-C. The remote control (190 × 46 × 15 mm, 122 g) lasts between 6 and 8 weeks on one charge of the 1050mAh Li-polymer battery and has no IR emitter. The 360° IR blaster is built into the X1 hub. The hub uses the 2.4GHz Wi-Fi and also has Bluetooth 3.0.
This also allows you to control Bluetooth devices such as the Apple TV, Fire TV, PlayStation and more. The remote control has a 2-inch LCD display (non-touch). The display content is operated via a scroll ball.
I have a relatively simple constellation of devices in use as a home theater setup. A gaming box, an LG TV, an Apple TV and a Sony Blu-ray player. The initial setup of the home device park in the remote control is done via the SofaBaton app. It required only a small learning curve to add all the devices that are present in the household and should be controlled. The app is only available in English.
If you had a Harmony remote control before, many points will probably seem familiar. The extensive device code database offers a wide selection with support for over 6000 manufacturers and more than 60,000 devices. With the latest firmware v13 for the hub, v11 for the remote, and the app in version 3.3.1, I have not encountered any setup issues.
With my standard activities set up – TV, series, games, music, DVD watching – there were no problems turning on the right devices and selecting the right inputs and outputs.
For example, during the Music activity, the Apple TV is on, but the TV screen is not. When I switch the activity to “Series”, the TV is turned on and switched to surround sound.
If you know how to use the Harmony remotes that have been set up in the meantime, you won’t find it any more difficult to set up than any other macro/activity system.
The SofaBaton X1 Hub can also be integrated into HomeKit, at least rudimentarily. There is no Homebridge plugin, but the hub supports webhooks via the SofaBaton app to start and stop activities. After you create an activity, you can see all your activities on the API interface and copy the link to control them elsewhere. Thus, the control of activities can also be used via IFTTT or used in any webhook Homebridge plugin. If you use the Siri Shortcuts app, you can also copy the URL into a shortcut so Siri will also help you start or stop an activity via it. An Alexa Skill and a Google Home link are also available, but we did not try them out.
The SofaBaton X1 remote with hub does, by and large, what the Harmony did and responds promptly to commands. I like that I can use my iPhone to set up, control and sync. It is good that Bluetooth devices can be controlled, which was not possible with the Harmony. This is a big plus for the X1, as many devices rely on Bluetooth these days. I am also satisfied with the battery performance. However, the user interface of the remote control could be a bit nicer visually.
If you have a relatively basic set of devices to control, some patience, and are reasonably tech-savvy, the SofaBaton X1 could be a good addition to your home theater. Maybe it will reach the flexibility of the Harmony Legend with upcoming firmware updates. The SofaBaton X1 is available at a price of €189.99 on Amazon.
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