Having an Amazon Alexa play music is great but how about using it to simplify your home entertainment experiences? Using a Logitech Harmony Hub I am able to ask Alexa to turn on TV and it will turn on my smart TV, turn on the Sky set top box and turn my audio receiver. It will then select the correct HDMI port on my TV and select the correct audio input on my receiver. If I say “turn on Xbox” it turns on my Xbox and changes the HDMI and audio channels. In other words it takes the complexity out of my home setup and makes it really simple to turn all the devices, on, off and change between settings.
All this is done using the Harmony Hub and is really simple to get up and running. You can add commands so I can say to Alexa “turn on BBC 1 HD” or “turn on F1” and as well as turning everything on, changing the audio/HDMI inputs also changes the channel on the Sky box. You can even add other devices to me mix, it can also control my Sonos, Hub lights and more. Also you don’t have to control it with Amazon Alexa, you can also use the Harmony apps to control your setup.
Getting it setup is really simple. You do the setup from the Harmony app on phone or PC and the first job it does is it scans your network for Wi-Fi controllable devices (e.g. Xbox One, Samsung TV). You can then manually add devices, for my AV receiver I told the app the make and model number, for the Sky TV setup box I told it the model and my TV region (so it knowns your channel line-up).
You then create the flows like “Watch TV”, “Play Xbox” and tell Harmony the steps required, like switching HDMI ports, AV optical ports, and setting a default TV channel. As it knowns your TV line-up you can simply ask Alexa to turn on the TV channel you require, you can say “Turn on ITV HD” and it will turn everything on and select the channel. It’s very simple to get up and running took less than an hour to have everything up and running. I have setup routines to play music on my Sonos, I have one to turn on the movie channel and dim the lights plus one to watch the Formula One racing.
So now I don’t need three remote controls to switch between the Xbox One and Sky TV and its much easier for the rest of the family to control. The Logitech Harmony Hub costs £89 on Amazon and is well worth it to expand your smart home capabilities.
Logitech Harmony Hub Video Review
In this video I show off how the Harmony Hub integrates with my smart home and how I can use to control my Sky TV box, Xbox, Samsung TV, Denon AV receiver and Philips Hue lights. I also take a look at how you configure the system.
Ian Dixon is a Microsoft MVP (Most Valuable Professional), founder of TheDigitalLifestyle.com tech site and producer of the weekly The Digital Lifestyle Show podcast. Ian has been writing and talking about Windows for over 10 years and has over 20 years in IT as an IT Manager. Ian has thousands of followers on Twitter and Facebook and over 4 million views on his YouTube channel.