Sort By: Post Date | Title | Publish Date
Filed under
Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Sep 13, 2009 0 comments
I really shouldn't make fun of this because there can be some serious math work involved in putting together a complicated whole-house A/V and automation system, but I couldn't help chuckle at the title of this CEDIA University course being offered for installers and designers. Maybe CEDIA should have picked a more impressive name for this course, something like "Beyond Fingers: Why a Calculator Should be in Your Toolbox" or "Mathematical Profitability: Making Cents out of Numbers".
Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Jul 20, 2009 0 comments
Tips and tricks for making your system tweakin’ awesome.

Unless you have really expensive tastes, it’s easy to see how spending several thousand dollars on your home theater system can make some very noticeable improvements. That kind of cash could buy a bigger TV, a larger projection screen, a brighter projector, a beefier amp, or a stouter subwoofer. Any of these would put some extra kick in an already kick-butt system. But maybe—like me—you don’t have piles of cash sitting around begging to be stuffed into a store’s cash register. Perhaps you just bought your first HTIB, recently added to your existing system, or (again, like me) you’re simply a classic cheapskate. Whichever it is, let’s say you’ve maxed out your A/V budget for the year. Now what?

Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Jan 26, 2009 0 comments
Price: $400 At A Glance: Access to news, sports, weather, and Amazon Top 10 lists • Many components are not available in the built-in database • Electronic Program Guide updates via home Wi-Fi network

High Wi-Fi (Not Wifey)

Acceptance Factor
From the waist down, Acoustic Research’s ARRU449 looks like the stereotypical universal remote control with a symmetrically arranged layout of small, backlit buttons. From the waist up, though, there’s a bright and colorful LCD screen that quickly catches your attention. Invisible to the eye is the remote’s other distinguishing feature: Wi-Fi connectivity. This allows the remote to access the Internet through your wireless network in order to download Electronic Program Guide (EPG) information along with news and weather highlights. In addition, the ARRU449 can periodically download software updates as they become available. Even though the ARRU449 can access the Internet, it doesn’t include a Web browser. That means you can’t go online directly. Instead, the remote uses something called click365 technology to download the EPG and other data—including news, weather, and sports stories—in the background.

Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Jan 26, 2009 0 comments
Price: $250 At A Glance: Exceptionally intuitive • Web-based setup procedure • Help function uses questions and answers to fix system problems • Programmable power-on, inter-key, inter-device delays

Pretty and Pretty Smart

I don’t know what they put in the water cooler at Logitech, but I want to start drinking it. The Harmony One is another in its long list of affordable universal remote controls. It looks great, is easy to program, and is sweetly simple to use. The Harmony One is as narrow as most single-device remotes, but it’s thinner and surprisingly light. It’s even easier to hold and use. At the business end is a bright 1.25-by-1.5-inch color touchscreen with enough resolution that you can easily recognize the tiny DVD logo on the DVD player icon. The backlit hard keys are distinctly grouped together by function (transport, numeric keypad, etc.). Although the individual keys are only slightly larger than those on an average remote, each has its own unique shape and is spaced far enough apart so that you can easily use the remote for basic operations without looking at it. The Harmony One includes a built-in motion sensor that’s supposed to wake the remote when you pick it up. It’s not super sensitive, though, so sometimes you’ll need to give the remote a quick shake to bring it to life. To recharge the battery, just place the remote in its horizontal charging cradle. My older Harmony 890 is sometimes finicky and refuses to make contact—and therefore doesn’t charge—when resting in its cradle. This one has a deeper well that ensures a solid connection between the contact points on the remote and the charging cradle. By the way, the rechargeable battery is removable and replaceable, much like a cordless phone’s battery. This makes it environmentally friendly, and it won’t force you to buy a new remote when the battery finally expires.

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?

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.

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.

Filed under
Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Jan 06, 2009 Published: Jan 07, 2009 0 comments
When you've come to CES as many times as I have, of course you've got baggage - serious mental baggage. At least, as a wonderful byproduct of my job, I can look like a happy idiot taking pictures of the baggage concourse sign in front of hundreds of other people who simply want to get their luggage and get away from me.
Filed under
Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Jan 06, 2009 0 comments
Although I haven’t put my hands on one yet (which is a good thing, too, since they’re too greasy from the overpriced turkey club sandwich from room service that I just ate), Logitech’s new Harmony 1100 universal remote control looks like just the kind of remote I’d want in my home theater. It’s classy looking, simple-to-operate, easy-on-the-brain when it comes to programming, and – at $499.99 – it’s a lot less pricey than most of the other touchscreen universal remotes.
Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Sep 07, 2008 1 comments
Remote control behemoth manufacturer Universal Remote Control is now offering control dimmers, lamp dimmers, and switches that work with a large number the company’s universal remote controls. The dimmers and such are made by lighting behemoth manufacturer Lutron specifically for URC. The system is ideal for single rooms (like home theaters) or small homes, and I’ve never seen a system in which it was so easy to program various lighting control scenes. It literally takes minutes and you’re done. Dimming switches are around $150 each, but there’s nothing extra that’s needed to make the remote controls work with the switches.

Pages