Logitech’s new $250 Concord Specific distant places Alexa in management – The Verge


Logitech simply introduced a brand new distant management that shakes up what shoppers have come to anticipate from the corporate’s Concord lineup. The $249.99 Concord Specific, which begins transport at present, has a revamped, tiny design that eliminates the touchscreen and plenty of programmable buttons of different Concord remotes. As a substitute, Logitech is betting every thing on Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant.

Alexa is constructed proper into the distant itself; sure, there’s a microphone in there, together with a speaker so you possibly can hear Alexa’s responses. If Logitech’s different Concord remotes are aimed on the house theater fanatic crowd, the Specific is supposed for informal shoppers who wish to stroll into their lounge, activate the TV, and get to Netflix or Prime Video with voice instructions. That sounds nice in idea, however my time with the Specific up to now reveals that Alexa may not but be able to deal with all that duty.

Additionally, why on this planet is that this factor $250? Loads of TVs and streaming platforms like Roku and Fireplace TV already assist Alexa. Is Logitech’s skill to regulate an unlimited variety of lounge gadgets price such a premium? Voice search is a pleasant bonus to have on remotes, however making voice the central person expertise can be taking fairly a leap.

For the launch of the Concord Specific, Logitech is beginning contemporary. The corporate created an all-new companion app that provides an very simple setup course of and streamlined interactions thereafter. For now, that app solely works with the Specific. This distant isn’t suitable with Logitech’s older Concord app, neither is its hub cross-compatible with older remotes. It prices over Micro USB, however you’ll not often have to fret a couple of useless distant battery.

To get began, you energy all your gadgets on, after which the app scans for them. It efficiently acknowledged my TCL Roku TV and Xbox One; I had so as to add my PS4 and Vizio soundbar manually. Then, you drag and drop every gadget onto its respective HDMI port in order that the Specific is aware of the place to seek out every thing. It helps hottest gadgets together with Apple TV, Fireplace TV, and Roku. You may even select which gadget you favor utilizing for every of the favored streaming apps. After this comes the Alexa setup, the place you’ll have to hyperlink the Concord Specific to your Amazon account.

As soon as every thing’s performed, you possibly can say one thing like “go to Netflix,” and your TV will energy personal, change to the precise HDMI enter, and cargo up the app. You may open any variety of streaming apps, however you possibly can’t inform Alexa to play a particular present. So that you’ll end up utilizing the round four-way navigation pad typically to really begin watching one thing. The Specific may also tune to particular channels (by channel quantity or identify) on many cable containers or, in my case, by the antenna plugged into my Roku TV. You are able to do principally any command your gadget helps — but it surely requires speaking to the distant as an alternative of tapping a touchscreen or shortcut button as you’ll on one other Concord.

The distant itself feels good. I discovered that my thumb rested naturally on the OK / voice button. It weighs barely something, and there’s a matte soft-touch end on the again for added grip. Alexa’s voice comes by the speaker clearly, as effectively, if a bit sharp at instances.

And naturally, you possibly can all the time simply ask the Specific basic Alexa questions on issues just like the climate or sports activities scores. Logitech designed its Alexa integration to be press-and-hold-to-talk, so it’s not just like the distant will always be listening for “Alexa” like an Echo speaker would possibly. You may alter the amount of Alexa’s responses, however the voice can’t be absolutely turned off.

It’s a Concord, so there are nonetheless loads of IR blasters concerned.

Logitech features a hub / IR blaster within the field, which is what connects to Logitech’s server and pulls in all of the instructions for every of your gadgets. When you’ve arrange the Specific, these smarts prolong to your Echo audio system, so you possibly can equally inform these gadgets to show in your TV, for instance. Your TV or recreation console would possibly already assist Alexa individually — my TCL TV and Xbox One do (no IR blaster required) — however there’s undoubtedly a comfort in chaining every thing collectively.

Nonetheless, there’s additionally alternative for crossed streams and battle amongst Alexa expertise. If each your TV and the Concord Specific perceive “go to Netflix” as a command, which one wins and really performs the request? How does Alexa know to make use of the Logitech Specific as an alternative of simply controlling your Xbox One with Microsoft’s personal ability? Logitech admits that is an space the place shoppers would possibly get inconsistent outcomes now and again, and it’s one thing Amazon additionally must have a hand in fixing. In case you favor simply utilizing the distant like a distant, the bodily buttons on the Specific will management no matter app or gadget you’re utilizing at the moment, they usually’re all backlit. You can even customise every button to do a distinct gadget command with both a brief press or lengthy press, which is beneficial since there aren’t a lot of them.

I haven’t spent sufficient time with the Concord Specific to supply a evaluate simply but, however I’m very confused about who’s going to purchase this product. I get the idea and who it’s for: individuals who need a common distant that’s not overly complicated. However… $250? On the worth, wouldn’t house theater energy customers favor the customizability and extra superior automation capabilities of the Concord Elite? Alexa isn’t but fairly dependable sufficient for that crowd, and having to always discuss to a distant management can get fairly annoying.

Likewise, I don’t see many informal shoppers handing over that a lot only for some added Alexa comfort of their lives. For $100? Positive, you can make a much better argument to provide the Specific a shot. It’s performed what I’ve requested up to now with out many points or hiccups. However I don’t suppose Alexa has developed sufficient in the lounge for Logitech to be asking for $250. Because it stands, the Concord Specific isn’t changing any member of the Concord lineup. The Concord Elite nonetheless stays the flagship, and there are cheaper choices in case you favor a extra conventional common distant. However if you wish to give Logitech’s latest method a strive, you possibly can order the Specific beginning proper now.

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