The venerable wand-style remote control may never go out of style. When it comes to channel surfing and volume adjustment, there’s something reassuring about that classic shape that can’t be replaced by a mobile phone or tablet. For the custom integration channel, the trick is providing this same familiarity and comfort while packing in features and making devices that are thinner, sleeker, and more ergonomic at an affordable price point.
The fifth generation of RTI’s T2 controller platform, the T2x combines a thinner, sleeker, and more ergonomic design with a number of other features, including a flush-mount, edge-to-edge touchscreen to make it easier for users to perform gestures.Crestron avoids IR altogether, utilizing either RF or Wi-Fi instead. Its infiNET EX platform doesn’t require line of sight and is the gateway for its MLX-3 and MTX-3 handheld remotes.
Some of the major players in the control category are introducing new wand-style remotes at CEDIA EXPO this year, offering innovations and performance tweaks, while others continue to support their tried-and-true designs.
RTI’s latest handheld controllers, including the sleek TKx and T2i, introduce a number of features to enhance the user experience and provide value for the consumer. These include integrated grip sensors to keep controllers awake during use; RTI’s dual-RF platform, which supports both 433-MHz RF for one-way control and 2.4-GHz ZigBee for bi-directional communication with RTI processors and supported third-party electronics; and built-in Wi-Fi with a web browser.
“For integrators, having these three wireless options in one device allows them to specify the controller into installations of any complexity and enlist any or all of the three RF transmission methods for extremely powerful control,” noted VP of marketing Peter Baker. “Furthermore, to improve the installation process, our latest controllers also support wireless updating over the LAN and future remote updating via the WAN.”
The fifth generation of RTI’s T2 controller platform, the T2x combines a thinner, sleeker, and more ergonomic design with a number of other features, including a flush-mount, edge-to-edge touchscreen to make it easier for users to perform gestures. Integrated grip sensors keep the controller from going to sleep when in use, while an accelerometer provides instant-on control when a user picks the device up. In addition, a completely customized interface means that even first-time users can operate AV equipment and other systems with ease.
The Savant Universal Remote supports a menu of screens for controlling services throughout the home or workplace, and because it utilizes Wi-Fi connectivity, users can control devices without pointing or aiming.
Historically, one of the major challenges of Wi-Fi remote controls has been latency, the time delay required to join a wireless network. By using a proprietary protocol instead, URC has been able to make the latency nearly imperceptible. The company calls its solution Quick Connect.
“Instead of waiting what can seem like minutes for the remote to connect to the home wireless network, the TRC-1080 uses Quick Connect and becomes active almost immediately,” noted director of marketing Cat Toomey. “Also, upon being picked up, it automatically displays ‘now playing’ or other current room status based upon the last user selections and products that have been synchronized. If nothing was in progress, the main menu will promptly appear. The result is a sharp spike in customer satisfaction.”
Additionally, owners and integrators may appreciate the offsite programming that Total Control and the TRC- 1080 deliver. Remotes can be fully programmed, reset, tweaked, and/or updated by the integrator via the internet, with no service call required.
In terms of ergonomics, URC’s TRC-1080 features three-finger grooves on the back panel that are scientifically calculated and designed to provide balance, comfortable control, and the ideal user experience.
Crestron’s newest wand-style remotes have a combination LCD and scrolling wheel on the side. “This makes for an economical remote, allowing the homeowner to operate everything with one hand,” noted Delia Hansen, marketing solutions manager. “Customers still expect the same intuitive experience when operating a handheld, wand-style remote. They don’t want to think about it. They just want it to work. They don’t want to always have to look down at the buttons.”
Crestron avoids IR altogether, utilizing either RF, or Wi-Fi instead. Its infiNET EX platform doesn’t require line of sight and is the gateway for its MLX-3 and MTX-3 handheld remotes.
“Our InfiNET EX Mesh Network technology is the most robust network for wireless devices,” Hansen added. “We haven’t had to make modifications to it from a programming aspect. We’ve only added new features to the platform, allowing the homeowner to do more with the MLX-3 handheld remote. The programming lives within the control processor allowing our dealers to deploy, program, and update remotes without being in the home. If you are in the house, you don’t have to plug in the remote either. The InfiNET EX network speeds up the deployment of updates.”
Instead of waiting what can seem like minutes for the remote to connect to the home wireless network, URC’s TRC-1080 uses the company proprietary platform Quick Connect to become active almost immediately.
ELAN’s more established HR2 was company’s first wand-style remote, providing all the familiar functionality of backlit hard buttons with a 2.4-inch OLED touch display and packaged in a device that weighs only eight ounces.
A few of Crestron’s remotes switch between RF and Wi-Fi to give clients the best of both worlds, solid performance for most commands over RF, and two-way feedback from high-traffic devices like media players for cover art and metadata. “We balance the two wireless technologies to maximize battery life and give customers the best experience,” Hansen noted.
ELAN’s more established HR2 was its first wand-style remote, providing all the familiar functionality of backlit hard buttons with a 2.4-inch OLED touch display and packaged in a device that weighs only eight ounces.
“The HR2 combines IR and 802.11g Wi-Fi to ensure the most reliable connection in any room and any usage scenario, enabling instant control of all integrated systems and robust metadata feedback,” said Robert Ridenour, ELAN Home Systems brand manager. The remote’s touchscreen interface mirrors the g! app and g! in-wall touchscreens, giving users a single GUI across every control device.
Beyond function, a major part of the remote’s appeal is the gentle and artistic sculpting of the bottom and back so that depth quickly goes from one inch in the palm to a half inch midway up for a comfortable, balanced grip.
Savant’s new Wi-Fi-based Universal Remote has been designed for the modern media room, providing intuitive control of an entire AV system along with connected devices, such as distributed audio, lighting, climate control, and other features within a residential or commercial setting. Similar to the company’s existing user interface options, the Savant Universal Remote is self-configuring once connected to the network, eliminating the need for complex programming.
The Savant Universal Remote supports a menu of screens for controlling services throughout the home or workplace, and because it utilizes Wi- Fi connectivity, users can control devices without pointing or aiming.
“Wi-Fi is the worldwide standard for residential and commercial wireless networking, and this new remote will affordably deliver the control capabilities our customers want by leveraging the network that already exists in their home or business,” explained Savant’s executive VP of corporate strategy and business development, Jim Carroll.
The Savant Universal Remote features a 1.7- inch color display and backlit buttons, which clearly illuminate essential navigation keys. The Savant Universal Remote has an ergonomic design, a customizable color display, and a full complement of hard buttons for frequently used functions. Additional features include two-way feedback from supported devices and transport buttons enabling users to navigate Savant’s award-winning TrueCommand on-screen navigation technology.
Jeremy J. Glowacki is editorial director of Residential Systems.