Ten years ago when I first started out in this industry, it used to be that pretty much every job got the same remote – the URC MX850 (and later the MX980). The only time we really deviated from that was if the client balked at the cost, and we would downscope to something less expensive. The big benefit was that my programmer and I knew that remote inside and out and could fully program it in less than 45 minutes, flawlessly.
Pro Control offers the iPro8, which is designed to be a companion remote to iOS control at a more reasonable cost to the customer.
However, as we have evolved as a company, we specify different remotes (and different control systems) for different needs. Particularly with iOS and Android control, clients don’t always need a touchscreen remote. And obviously we use a different remote for multi-room control vs. single-room control. For example, we just did a take-over job on Park Avenue in New York City. We repurposed all of the speakers, TVs, and infrastructure wiring. We basically rebuilt the rack and put in a new Crestron control system. Historically, I would have specified an MLX-3 for each room. However, based on the client’s habits and proclivity toward iOS control, we put in a hard-button only remote (the H150) for the master bedroom and kitchen. The clients can choose sources and do basic channel entry and transport control. If they want anything more involved (music for the room, DVR settings, or anything else), they will need to use their iOS device, as they typically would. At least they now have an affordable, easy-to-use, hard button remote for those times they just want to quickly turn on the system and watch TV. For the Family Room, where they are more likely to do the majority of movie and sports viewing, we put in a TSR-302, so they can have more control when settled in on the sofa, without having to pull out their iPhone or iPad to browse the Kaleidescape menus or the Crestron NSP-1 music choices.
Speaking with other colleagues in the industry, “more customization” seems to be a common theme. For single-room solutions they may use URC Complete Control or Pro Control, but for something more complex they will bump up to Total Control or RTI. Manufacturers have been helping to provide more options. Pro Control offers the iPro8 and RTI offers the SURFiR, both designed to be companion remotes to iOS control at a more reasonable cost to the customer. They aren’t great for making source selection and detailed on-screen choices, but once a source is selected they provide the tactile feedback and ease of use clients want from a hand-held remote at a reasonable cost, without having to invest $500-$1500 in a touch screen remote.
While it may require a bit more flexibility in our programming and may take a little more investment in time (which can be billed), clients really appreciate a more economical solution paired with their smart phone. Almost every client wants smart phone control, but once they are settled in on the couch for movie night, they are frustrated to have to swipe their phone, unlock the home screen and open the control app just to change the volume or pause because the phone rang. There is a huge benefit to having an affordable hard-button option for them. In fact, we have had great success adding this in at a later date once clients realize how inconvenient iOS-only control really is for day-to-day TV viewing.
+Todd Anthony Pumais president of The Source Home Theater Installation, Powered by Fregosa Design, in New York City.