Onkyo Launches Home Automation Controller
The answer, of course, is a single programmable remote that can emulate all the others in your system. In late October, Onkyo announced the "CHAD" (Custom Home Automation Device), a fully customizable graphical touchscreen learning remote control unit that can easily be configured to operate any device with an infrared remote. Onkyo's CHAD can be programmed to perform up to 255 tasks across multiple components with the touch of a single button. Properly programmed, the CHAD will power up and shut down your system's components in the correct order to prevent annoying turn-on thumps or speaker-damaging transient noise.
The CHAD features 2 MB of internal memory, programmable macros and timers, and an RS-232 interface that allows users to customize it with a home PC. Components to be controlled can be selected from the internal database of more than 500 brands, even if you have lost a component's original remote control. An optional receiver---RFR-5 RF Receiver and Distribution Block---allows the unit to use radio frequency (RF) signals to transmit from room to room, up to 70 feet, without the usual line-of-sight limitation. The optional BCC-5 Docking Cradle allows the CHAD to operate on a rechargeable battery pack.
The CHAD can also 'learn' even the most obscure functions directly from a remote, so there is never any sacrifice in functionality. New devices can be added as needed, directly to the home screen, after which their functions can be defined using an onscreen virtual keyboard and customized to suit your taste and needs. Onkyo's CHAD Edit software can be upgraded or expanded with new macros and functions downloaded from the Internet.
Slightly larger than a typical remote control, the Onkyo CHAD measures 6" long, 3.75" wide, and 1.75" deep. Suggested retail is $500; the RFR-5 and BCC-5 are available at a suggested retail price of $150 each.