Logitech Concord Categorical builds in Alexa to simplify TV programs for $250

Sarah Tew/CNET

For 15 years Logitech Concord common remotes have tamed sprawling multi-device residence leisure programs, making them less complicated to make use of. They change a coffee-table filled with remotes with only a single clicker that instructions your TV, AV receiver, cable field, recreation console and extra, seamlessly. One button-press turns all the pieces on, switches to the right enter(s) and also you’re able to go.

With the brand new Concord Categorical, that button-press turns into a voice command: “Activate the TV.”

The Concord Categorical has been fully redesigned from earlier fashions just like the Concord Companion and Concord Elite to make issues even less complicated, beginning with built-in Alexa. Me and my household, together with two elementary-school-age youngsters, have been utilizing it for the final week to manage the primary leisure heart at residence. It is already everybody’s favourite clicker, primarily due to Ms. Alexa herself.

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Concord Categorical common distant will get less complicated with Alexa…


Listed below are the fundamentals.

Concord Categorical prices $250 and is offered now at Amazon and and coming quickly to different retailers like Greatest BuyThere’s simply 10 buttons and a four-way directional pad. The buttons are backlit and the D-pad has a coloured ring similar to an Alexa speaker.You press the primary high button and converse into the distant to situation instructions.Voice is powered by Amazon Alexa, however you do not have to say “Alexa,” simply the command itself like “Flip off the TV” or “Launch Netflix.”A built-in speaker lets Alexa speak again even when your system is turned off. Phrases like “Getting Netflix from Concord Categorical” situation from the distant in her acquainted voice.You possibly can pair the Categorical with any Alexa speaker for hands-free instructions. For instance, “Alexa, activate the TV” works hands-free, no distant required.The distant finder operate, a primary for Concord, causes the distant to play a tone, permitting you to search out it if it is misplaced among the many sofa cushions for instance.It features a small hub and IR blaster, similar to present Concord remotes, that controls gear by way of Infrared, Bluetooth and IP/Wi-Fi instructions. The distant does not want line-of-sight to your units so you do not have to goal it and even be in the identical room, and kit will be stashed inside cupboards.A redesigned app for iOS and Android, referred to as Concord Categorical, makes the setup course of simpler than earlier Concord apps.It might probably management as much as 15 AV units and, similar to every other Alexa gadget, management sensible residence units like lamps, thermostats and extra with voice instructions.

It is a miniature handheld Alexa speaker, you guys

The craziest factor in regards to the Categorical is that it has not solely a mic built-in, but in addition a speaker. It talks again with Alexa’s dulcet tones similar to an Echo. My youngsters love Alexa, and one of many first issues they did with the Categorical was take a look at its limits as a speaker. Their favourite “Sing a music” labored, inflicting Alexa to spout her personal little ditties, and “What’s your anus?” evoked the acquainted “Uranus is the seventh planet from the solar.” They even received it to play music from iHeart Radio, though the sound was horrible by the Categorical’ tiny speaker.

I requested for the climate, set a timer and, extra helpful in a distant, turned off the lights within the TV room and turned on the bias gentle behind the TV. I requested when the subsequent Mets recreation was on and “Who’re the celebs of Stranger Issues?” Having Alexa in a tool in my hand already was actually handy and an ideal various to elevating my voice to succeed in the Echo in my eating room.

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Voice > buttons

The Categorical does away with the numeric keypad, the 4 color-coded buttons, sensible residence buttons and different Concord staples. As an alternative there’s that massive central push-to-talk Alexa button. Previous Concord remotes have buttons that correspond to so-called Actions like “Watch TV” and “Play Xbox.” Urgent one activates the TV, switches the enter to gadget and maps all of the buttons like Menu, Exit and the directional keypad the the gadget itself.

To observe TV or Hulu or play Xbox on the Categorical you will have to speak into the distant. Issuing that command does all the identical stuff as earlier than. Its less complicated in a technique — no want to determine which exercise button to press — but in addition arguably extra of a ache to talk relatively than mash a button. You even have to talk (e.g., “Flip off the TV”) to close all the pieces down since there is not any Off button anymore.  

The primary use for a numeric keypad is inputting channel numbers, however Categorical does that by way of voice, too. Simply say “Go to ESPN” or “Go to Web Geo” and it dials up that channel out of your cable or satellite tv for pc field immediately — no want to recollect the channel quantity.


The distant comes with a small hub (left) and an IR extender.

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In actual fact there’s solely 9 keys — all backlit — under the massive voice/choose button and round four-way D-pad, and three (quantity up/down and mute) are dedicated to controlling your audio gadget. That leaves simply six for the precise gadget you are controlling, by default Again, Dwelling, Menu and Rewind, Play/Pause and Quick Ahead.

You possibly can map any of these to any command utilizing the app, and program every with long- and short-press, however individuals who like devoted keys for added capabilities, like DVR, Information or Document for instance, could also be irritated on the paucity of keys. There’s additionally no approach to create customized voice instructions.

Critically, who wants buttons?

Similar to switching channels, launching apps is quicker with voice. “Watch Netflix” with all the pieces off fired up the TV, switched inputs appropriately and brilliant me proper to my profile web page in a few seconds. I additionally cherished which you could map totally different apps to totally different streaming units. I had a Roku, an Apple TV and a Fireplace TV connected and I used to be in a position to decide on which one I wished to affiliate with every app. Some units are excluded, nevertheless — associating an app with my Xbox or Nvidia Defend wasn’t an possibility, for instance.


The distant finder operate is gold.

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You get entry to deeper voice integrations on Fireplace TV. I used to be capable of say “Discover Comedies” or “Discover motion pictures with Julia Roberts” or “Watch Roma” and the Fireplace TV served up precisely what I anticipated, even inside the Netflix app. Sadly these sorts of deep hyperlinks will not work with different streamers like Apple TV and Roku (but). Logitech’s reps additionally stated the Categorical would not be made suitable with Google Assistant or different voice programs sooner or later.

And you probably have different “helper” apps put in the Categorical can get, nicely, confused. Alexa video abilities for Dish, Xbox, Roku and others can intervene with the Concord Categorical Alexa talent (required to make use of the distant), inflicting you to should specify the gadget (“…on Categorical”) or disable the talent completely. For instance, once I stated “Swap to Fireplace TV” Alexa replied “I can do this in your Concord Categorical. Which might you want?” I has to reply “Concord Categorical” earlier than it converted. The extra helper abilities you will have put in, the better the potential for confusion (each yours and Alexa’s).

In any other case my voice instructions had been executed flawlessly. The commonest, together with turning on and off and switching my varied units, occurred far more rapidly than the Fireplace TV Dice. Response instances to key presses with units and apps had been equally very fast.


The sunshine ring ought to be acquainted to any Alexa person.

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Simple on the eyes and within the hand

The Categorical is kind of small however does not really feel low cost or toylike. It seems to be modern on a espresso desk and there is a pleasing symmetry. Not like with an Apple TV distant, it was at all times straightforward to inform which finish is “up” thinks to the massive button and lightweight ring.  The enticing matte end repelled even my youngsters’ grubby fingerprints nicely.

The rounded sides and backside felt pure in my hand. I actually favored the truth that each button was a straightforward thumb attain away, and my thumb rested naturally on the play/pause button, which is concave for tactile reference. After a pair days use I hardly ever had to have a look at it to determine buttons. After I did, the clear icons and full backlighting served nicely.

The distant expenses by way of mini-USB and battery life is superb. In a strong week value of use, together with loads of songs from the children, it went right down to about midway in response to the battery indicator within the app.

Setup with my system was so simple as any distant I’ve used, and far clearer than previous Concord units. Sure I had to supply precise mannequin numbers and know which inputs I had linked — not crucial with the Caavo — however the steps made sense and I did not hit any snags. I particularly favored the solutions telling me what phrases I might use.

I did miss the power to make use of the app to manage units immediately. Not like the usual Concord app, the Categorical app is strictly for setup, assist and discovering the distant. And talking of assist, the Concord Assist talent for Alexa (routinely enabled throughout setup) walked me by troubleshooting when one thing surprising occurred. When the TV did not activate at one level, for instance, a collection of Alexa prompts fastened the problem rapidly.


A common distant is barely worthwhile you probably have lots of gear to manage.

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The $250 query

Do you want Concord Categorical?

I might argue that for a system with an AV receiver, a TV and greater than two linked units, a common distant is a necessity. However you probably have an easier system, say a sensible TV, a recreation console and a sound bar, it is in all probability overkill.

If you happen to determine you want a common distant, there are a pair that may work simply in addition to the Categorical for much less. The Concord Companion, my present CNET Editors’ Selection, is lower than half the worth and might do just about all the pieces the Categorical can, other than built-in voice. It additionally works nicely with Concord’s Alexa app, so you are able to do lots of stuff with an Echo speaker, no distant required.

Then there’s Caavo Management Heart, which prices $100 and requires a $2 month-to-month service charge. It has Caavo’s personal voice system built-in, which helps you to search throughout companies and carry out different capabilities, and overlays all the pieces with an onscreen interface. We used it for a pair months in my home earlier than putting in the Categorical and favored it so much, though the onscreen stuff typically felt pointless and I favor the texture of the Categorical. I additionally like as nicely ts backlit keys higher than Caavo’s capacitive onscreen indicators.

The Fireplace TV Dice is one other cheaper common distant possibility, but it surely requires you to carry onto your unique remotes since Amazon’s included clicker could be very fundamental. And for just about the identical worth because the Categorical you may get the Concord Elite which has a display display, making some capabilities like direct app and channel entry simpler. However not as straightforward as asking Alexa.

None of these common clickers is as intuitive to make use of as Concord Categorical, nevertheless. You probably have a fancy AV system and like the concept of simplifying it as a lot as attainable with a mixture of voice and buttons, it could possibly be well worth the steep worth.


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