Logitech Harmony Ultimate - $349.99
If your living room is littered with a ga-zillion remotes, the Harmony remotes are for you. It's the one remote designed to rule them all. The Harmony Ultimate has a touchscreen as well as a hub that lets you control IR, RF and Bluetooth devices. It'll even control many smartphone devices like a Nest thermostat or Philips Hue lightbulbs.
The best part is how easy it is to setup. Using your smartphone you select your devices and the Harmony figures out the rest. The Harmony lets you choose tasks like "Watch TV or Watch Movie" instead of turning on everything individually. It'll even set the proper inputs.
If I have any complaints it's that the DVR controls are above the screen. It's a weird spot that makes it a bit awkward to reach. It seems Logitech has fixed that problem with the newly re-designed Harmony Elite. Which opens up an opportunity for consumers.
Since the Elite replaces the Ultimate, it's clearance time. I found the $350 Logitech Harmony Ultimate for $160 refurbished from NewEgg.com!
Wink Hub - $50+
Wink is your hub for all things that are smart. You'll need a hub and a few devices. The hub can control your smart lightbulbs, thermostats, motion sensors, garage door openers and more. Most people start with a basic kit of a hub and a few lightbulbs.
Typically a hub and a couple of lightbulbs will run you about $50 but I found a sale at Sears.com - all Wink products are half off! You can grab a hub for $25 and basic lightbulbs are $7.50 each.
Amazon Echo - $179.99
Amazon Echo is the smart virtual assistant for your home. It's a tower speaker that also has multiple microphones built into the top. Simply say, "Alexa" and then ask a question. Echo is similar to Siri and Google now. It can tell you sports scores, traffic and news updates or help calculate cooking conversions. It's also a great sounding speaker so you can ask Alex to "Play Foo Fighters on Pandora" and it'll start cranking out the music.
What's amazing about Echo is how well it can hear your commands. I was 15 feet away across the room and it had no problem understanding what I was saying. On top of that, it can also control other devices. I can tell it to turn the temperature up or down in my home using my Nest thermostat. You can turn lights on and off with a Wink hub. Amazon adds new devices on a regular basis. It is quickly becoming the Siri for your smart home.
Amazon Echo is a hot item this holiday so it's going to be tough to get it before Christmas. It's $180 at Amazon.com.