UNIVERSAL REMOTE & ACCESSORY REVIEWS

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Brent Butterworth Posted: Mar 15, 2011 0 comments
A product that functions imperfectly yet possesses a singular character can be as enjoyable to own as one that delivers unassailable performance. Before you argue the point, know that millions of Harley owners stand ready to back me up.
Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Oct 02, 2014 0 comments
Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $299

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Seven radios built in
Extremely easy initial setup
Minus
Pricey next to other DIY automation hubs
Lacks some advanced programming features

THE VERDICT
The Revolv Hub is a powerhouse that looks to be relatively future-proof from a hardware standpoint. A great choice for a newbie.

Humble isn’t a word anyone would associate with Revolv and their distinctive, teardrop-shaped, little red smart-home controller—which the company calls, with uncharacteristic restraint, the Hub. In fact, this device is easily the flashiest and most recognizable of all the smart home gadgets around today.

Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Jan 26, 2009 0 comments
Price: $2,499 At A Glance: 6.4-inch diagonal color touchscreen • Motion sensor • Built-in IR, RF, and Wi-Fi • Kicks all other remotes controls’ butts

My Remote Can Beat Up Your Remote

If you like car analogies (I don’t, but I’ll use one here anyway), RTI’s T4 is the Hummer of universal remote controls. At a little more than 9 by 6 inches (not to mention over 2.5 inches thick), it’s a monster that will dwarf nearly everything else sitting on your coffee table. It weighs 2 pounds. It sports an LCD touchscreen that by itself is larger than most other remote controls. At this point, you’re probably thinking that the prime consumer demographic for the T4 is the guy who feels the need to make up for some, shall we say, inadequacy in his personal life.

Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Oct 02, 2014 0 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $99

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Z-Wave and ZigBee radios built in
In-app live chat support
Supports multiple third-party devices and services
Minus
Doesn’t support Insteon
No tablet-specific app layout

THE VERDICT
The SmartThings Hub offers an impressive range of support, its app is powerful and smartly designed, and it’s a great value.

As with all up-and-coming DIY home automation systems, the SmartThings Hub is intended to make your life a living nirvana, bringing peace, love, and, yes, even rock ’n’ roll (grunge or otherwise) into your smart home. The $99 price—with a free app and no monthly subscription fees—is certainly a tasty enticement for someone with a sweet tooth for home automation on the cheap. But the big question is whether there’s enough meaty substance to the SmartThings system to satisfy a homeowner’s long-term automation hunger. Or does SmartThings give nothing more than a sugar high that inevitably leads to a disappointing crash later on?

Brent Butterworth Posted: Jul 17, 2012 0 comments

There’s some debate among vinylphiles about whether USB phono preamps need to exist, but I for one am glad they do. When I bring home my latest haul of vinyl from Amoeba Records, I love being able to plug a laptop straight into my NAD PP 3 to make quick MP3s of albums I like so I can listen to them on my smartphone. (Sacrilege!) It’s easier than making an analog connection, and it bypasses the lousy analog-to-digital converter built into my laptop.

With the Zphono-USB, Parasound brings new versatility and features to the USB phono pre concept.

Kim Wilson Posted: Mar 08, 2011 1 comments
Apps for the home theater enthusiast.

I’m still amused by the naysayers who said the iPad was inconsequential: a product with limited use that no one asked for. Fast-forward to 2011, and it’s one of the hottest mobile devices ever, creating a new product category much in the way Apple did with the iPod and iPhone. It’s more than a giant iPhone, as some like to call it. In fact, many of the things you liked about the iPhone, you’ll appreciate more with the iPad. One such category is A/V control apps. Many manufacturers have adopted the Apple iOS platform—first the iPhone and now the iPad—with dedicated interfaces for controlling their products and systems.

Chris Chiarella Posted: Feb 15, 2006 0 comments
You know you need some accessories.

The vast capabilities of the Sony PlayStation Portable are realized not only with the latest games and movies, but with the targeted devices and software that pop in, snap on, and lord over the content and hardware. The following items are HT Gamer tested and approved.

Adrienne Maxwell Posted: May 21, 2007 Published: Apr 21, 2007 0 comments
Got a converged home? Get a converged remote.

What distinguishes a good universal remote from a great one? A good remote controls all of your components the way you need it to; a great one controls those components the way you want it to. Customization and advanced functionality are the keys, and UEI's NevoSL universal controller has both. The NevoSL's software-based programming and UEI's extensive code database combine to produce an excellent home theater controller, but this product's real strength lies in its ability not just to control but to create a converged home.

Thomas J. Norton Posted: Jun 06, 2005 0 comments

Even as DVI and HDMI were being adopted by video manufacturers as the digital links of choice, one limitation of these connections was already well known: they don't like to be used in long lengths. The generally accepted limit for an unassisted digital video cable of this type is about 5 meters or just over 16 feet, particularly with high-definition sources.

Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Jan 26, 2009 0 comments
Price: $1,199 At A Glance: No motion sensing • Great form factor • Z-Wave and Wi-Fi communication

To Have and to Hold

To say I’ve found and fallen in love with the perfect universal remote control wouldn’t be 100-percent correct. After all, the NevoS70 certainly has its flaws. But then so do I, and yet my wife loves me anyway. In the case of Universal Electronics’ NevoS70, there are so many good features, it’s hard to remember any that might not be so good. First and foremost, the NevoS70’s shape is a great fit for the average person’s hand (a.k.a. my hand). Because of the way the back of the remote control’s case curves and where the unit’s center of gravity is located, the most comfortable and natural way to hold the remote puts the most-used keys (volume, channel, and directional keypad) within easy reach of your thumb. From there, it’s not much of a stretch to reach the touchscreen. A small scroll wheel for navigation is mounted on the right side of the remote (I’m sure not coincidentally), which is exactly where your thumb rests when it’s not pressing the keys on the front. Should you need or want it, the right side of the remote’s casing also stores a standard PDA-type stylus.

Scott Wilkinson Posted: Feb 15, 2004 0 comments

Universal remote controls can be great for integrating the control of a home theater system. However, all infrared (IR) remotes suffer one significant drawback: they must be pointed at the component they are controlling, with a clear line of sight. If components are hidden and/or located in several different areas of the room, it's difficult or impossible to operate them in an integrated manner. Of course, you can spring for a high-end control system from a company such as Crestron or AMX, but we're talking big bucks there.

Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Jan 26, 2009 0 comments
Price: $599 At A Glance: Can control URC lighting dimmers wirelessly • Wall mountable • Uses AAA batteries

Looks Good and Feels Good

At first glance, you might wonder why the diminutive KP-900 from Universal Remote Control (there’s no doubt about what that company does, is there?) warrants a $599 price tag. It’s about 2 inches shorter than the average paperback book and maybe half as thick. The relatively large buttons are backlit, but there aren’t that many of them. Also, although you can adjust the LCD screen’s backlight color and brightness, the screen can’t display any of the nice graphics and logos that other remotes can. By the way, did I mention that the KP-900 doesn’t have a touchscreen, either?

John Higgins Posted: Sep 30, 2005 0 comments
A home theaterphile's guide to universal remotes.

Most audio/video buffs would agree that the most frustrating thing about having a home theater is the loss of coffee-table space. Magazines have been replaced by numerous remotes to control receivers, televisions, DVRs, DVD players, even air conditioners. On occasion, one of these remotes might be able to control multiple components, but it's rare that a single remote will be compatible with every component in your system. Hence the market for universal remotes. We've all seen them, either on the racks at electronics stores for $30 or reviewed here, retailing in the neighborhood of $700. However, many of us are hesitant to spend more on a remote than on a DVD player. But don't panic. Those $30 remotes may be just the thing you and your coffee table are looking for. Some of them are easy enough to use that any non-buffs in your household won't have to go back to school for their electrical-engineering degrees.

Joel Brinkley Posted: Jun 17, 2007 0 comments

Like many of you, I assume, a welter of remotes sits on the table next to my TV watching chair. Among them are remotes for the TV, the preamp/processor, the DVR, three DVD players, a CD player ... nine in all.

David Vaughn Posted: Dec 29, 2008 0 comments

Who needs a universal remote? As far as I'm concerned, just about anyone with a media system, even as simple as a DVD player connected to a TV. Almost every piece of A/V equipment sold today offers its own remote with "universal" functionality, but these are cumbersome and offer limited programmability compared to third-party remotes.

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