SUPER LONG READ. Review and Comparison to Harmony Elite, Savant Remote and NEEO
So I've had a few days now with the NEEO remote and so far I'm liking it. I do feel it is not 100% ready to replace my daily driver which is currently a Harmony Elite. Prior to receiving the NEEO I hooked up my Savant Remote and used that for a bit just so I could get a good base on what I felt I wasn't getting with Savant and Harmony.
So to start I will say that they are all nice devices, having any of them would ideally work for what someone is trying to do if your device is in the databases they all have their strong points as well as weak points.
So starting with the Harmony Elite. It is by far the most complete package. As it should be they have been in this space pretty much unchallenged for a very long time. The issues I have always had with Harmony is it seems after time the hardware begins to fail. Ex. Randomly the remote will stop responding and I have to do a fix it. May not update, or lock up during update at like 98%. Their app is not the greatest but the web interface makes up for it.
It is by far the most customizable with set up. Being able to use my own icons, create small macros, assign buttons, and commands from multiple devices that are associated with an activity on the screen. Channel provider listings, ergonomically the button placement makes a lot of sense. Remote remembers state, and handles transitions well. Overall very solid device. That being the case doesn’t mean there isn’t room for improvement. A lot of the smart home buttons on the remote I rarely use unless I need to turn off a light that was either turned on accidently or I forgot to turn off. The physical buttons for the r, g, b, y need to go. At times the remote feels cluttered.
So I went on to the Savant remote. This remote has a very premium feel to it. Nice fast touch screen, responsive, allows for profiles, just the right amount of physical keys. The only thing I would change on the layout is moving the media buttons for play, pause, etc. It basically has all the buttons the Elite has minus the r, g, b, y and smart home buttons. They have a voice command though which works amazingly.
The ability to capture scenes is cool also. Have a setting you like at the moment, just capture it and it is saved, and you can launch that same scene anytime. The app is very well laid out and super easy to use. The adding of devices and testing them I’m not a huge fan of but it gets you through it.
The only reason that this did not replace the Elite is because it doesn’t support Philips Hue and LiFX unless you upgrade to a Pro license and get a new hub. Which increases the cost quite a bit but…it unlocks a lot of stuff with it when you do that.
The biggest downside of it now is that they really don’t support it as the base, but you can upgrade it to a Pro for like 80 dollars. I don’t think the host will control Hue though unless you upgrade that as well.
The interesting thing about this one is the Host just handles the networking. No other functions, the IR codes are sent from the base, or you can use the wireless battery powered blasters. They are kind of pricey but work well. They may be needed, because of where someone may need to place the base.
It handles current device state, and transitioning better than the Elite, it’s quicker and snappier. Has a similar fix it function. Channel listings, etc.
What’s missing from the harmony is the ability to customize the screen add buttons for various items you need. It makes you go into devices to access some things. It really lays out the super bare minimum you would probably need. I would have liked to be able to add buttons, control delays etc, but doing that though would take away from the super clean look it always has. Again it gives off a very premium feel, and look. If it supported ZigBee and Z Wave devices, like Hue, and LiFX I would have just used this all the time. I honestly feel that if they marketed it better, and added support for items like that they could have been a huge force in this space for consumers in the DIY, and not full blown home automation.
Then we finally get to NEEO. Is NEEO perfect? No. I didn’t expect it to be, neither are the other 2 remotes I listed. If they were I wouldn’t have been looking at NEEO.
So with NEEO, it feels pretty premium also, but in a much different way. It almost reminds me of a smart phone, a very tall, thin smart phone but that’s what it reminds me of, or a remote that came with a high end product and it is a remote just for that product.
Super heavy sturdy base. I like that. I was expecting the brain to be the same but its super light. Between the 3 devices, it outperforms the other 2 with sending IR codes by far. I couldn’t get it to work behind a couch or anything but it worked when the other 2 bases failed on all but 1 device. It was consistent and snappy. Already a +1 for NEEO. I moved the brain to a few different locations and I hit every device. Once I placed it exactly where I wanted it, I had to use the IR extender to get one, but the others are solid without it.
The only thing I wish it had on the remote itself was physical media buttons. When I’m watching a movie in the dark I don’t want to have to look at the screen to see what I’m hitting. I knew it didn’t have them, but I didn’t realize how much I would miss them. The brain I honestly feel the HDMI port on it is a waste and a 2nd IR extender port would have been better utilized.
Now on to the set up. Initial set up was easy. Found all my devices, got them added, firmware updated, etc. I was expecting certain questions and flows, they didn’t come during set up. They came after. Which is odd to me. Then I realized it was just adding the devices and not really making a recipe. Seems like that could have been done all at once. No big deal. Just strange flow.
NEEO kind of seems to handle current state ok, if your device works with discreet commands. If not it really. Transitions in recipes do not really exist. You can add the power off command to other devices, which is what Harmony does and I assume Savant since they both do it. Harmony asks in the wizard when making the activity Savant does at some point iirc. Adding a step like that in the recipe wizard would be ideal.
It doesn’t have channel listings as of yet (not sure if something like that is coming) so adding favorites is a pain. Maybe I’m just lazy…actually I know I’m lazy lol.
Considering I think that’s pretty damn good. I know it didn’t have the media buttons going in, so my only real complaints are transitioning and channel listings. Considering the team is not Savant a huge luxury home automation company, or Logitech who makes peripherals for everything under the sun NEEO’s teams efforts are impressive.
Small quality of life changes would be nice. Small things though. Defaulting page, adding buttons for specific actions on one scree from any device in the recipe, maybe allowing for changing of icons and their size. More instructions and tips.
The biggest draw I see with sticking with the remote for a while is you have a team that is fully engaged and committed. Logitech has forums, which is nice, but you probably aren’t talking to and of the developers. Getting codes, and fixes when needed. Savant support is like non exist net and you can’t even get into the community forums from what I see because it’s for integrators.
I would say it’s worth a go if you are interested. Just have to go in knowing it’s a brand new product. There is going to be issues here and there. Hopefully a community of users will grow. Many on Planet NEEO are very helpful.
LivingRoom: LG OLED65E6P/Oppo UDP-203/Anthem MRX 1120/SVS SB16 ULTRA/M5300-PM/Paradigm 85F, 45c, Mythos Gem XL x4, SVS Prime Elevation x4 (atmos)/PS4 Pro/Xbox One S/Switch/AppleTV
Bedroom: Panasonic 65ZT60 / Oppo BDP103D / Apple TV / PS3
Office: Pioneer KRP-500M / Xbox 360
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