smart tech Tag

The Old-Fashioned Clicker Gets a Facelift

The Old-Fashioned Clicker Gets a Facelift

the Savant Pro Remote remote control

Despite all the advances in home technology, I still like channel surfing—the old-fashioned way—by pressing buttons on a handheld remote control. It’s mindless work. Just keep pressing to scroll through the guide and pop into a program when something catches my eye.

 

A remote control might seem a bit behind the times when an Amazon Echo speaker is standing there listening to your every beck and call, but I like my trusty couch companion. I don’t need to get up from my comfy seat or shout at some inanimate

object. I can just lay back and peck at a few buttons. I know my remote “hears” me. As for that smart speaker, like a petulant teenager, it seems to ignore me no matter how much I yell.

 

Remote controls are more than just channel-surfing tools, though. They’ve gotten pretty darn sophisticated and smart over the years. Besides busting them out when you want to find a movie on Netflix, you can peer at their built-in touchscreens to see and control what’s happening throughout your home.

 

Sometimes, you can teach the remote a few new simple

tricks. But if you’d like to press its buttons to operate lights, thermostats, AV equipment, security systems, garage-door openers, and a host of other devices, it’s best to get a professional integrator involved. He has the expertise to outfit your home with all the components necessary for complete, easy control. He’ll also likely recommend that you use wall-mounted

keypads, touchscreens, and your voice to supervise systems around your home. These methods are sexy and sophisticated, but the familiarity of a handheld remote can’t be beat.

 

With the help of a home-technology integrator, each button on the remote can be configured to dispatch multiple commands to multiple devices. This “one press does it all” command is commonly referred to as a macro, and it’s amazingly simple yet powerful.  A button labeled “Movie Time,” for example, could be programmed to dim the lights, close the motorized shades, and lock the front door. In

The Old-Fashioned Clicker Gets a Facelift

the Logitech Harmony Elite remote control

seconds, with a bowl of popcorn in your lap, you’ve transformed your living room into a cinema. 

 

Other scenarios can unfold with ease in other areas of your home. “Bedtime” can adjust the thermostats, close the blinds, lock the doors, and set the security system. “Entertain” can turn on your favorite jazz playlist, activate patio lights, and set the lights to showcase artwork on the walls . . . or whatever your heart desires.

 

That’s the beauty of a smart remote that works with other smart devices: The sky is the limit as to what you can do. Heck, you can even use the remote’s built-in screen to see who’s knocking at the front door, peruse your music library, see the current weather report, or monitor the status of your security system. And instead of yelling at a voice-enabled device to turn off the hallway lights or lower the volume of your music system, you can use your “indoor voice” to launch verbal commands through the remote’s built-in microphone. Take that, Alexa!

Lisa Montgomery

With more than 20 years under her belt covering all things electronic for the home, Lisa
Montgomery 
has developed a knack for knowing what types of products and systems
make sense for homeowners looking to update their abodes. When she’s not exploring
innovative ways to introduce technology into homes, Lisa breaks away from the electronics
world on a bike, kayak, or a towel on the beach.

Will Enthusiasts Ever Learn to Love Smart Tech?

Yesterday, I posted a video on my YouTube channel discussing the smart speaker revolution, and why they and other powered smart devices are the absolute future of specialty AV. I knew this stance was going to be “controversial,” for if there is one thing enthusiasts love, it’s their equipment. In truth, promise an enthusiast an ounce of style and/or convenience and you’re bound to get a stern talkin’ to. Much in the way our grandparents always had to walk up hill in the snow in

order to get to school or work, audiophile and home theater enthusiasts believe giant amps, countless wires, and complicated subroutines are simply what’s necessary in order to achieve, well, something.

 

If you’re triggered by the thought of your precious amplifier, preamp, DAC, or even display having to grow up and work for its supper in 2019, then I would encourage you to stop reading, for what I’m going to say next is bound to put you in the fetal position. You’ve been warned.

 

Wires are stupid.

 

It’s 2019, people. We have self-driving cars. We have super computers in our pockets and augmented reality that can virtually drop us or an object anywhere we want in an instant. Yet there are those among us who believe an argument over Class AB

Will Enthusiasts Ever Learn to Love Smart Tech?

Bowers & Wilkins’ Formation Duo (above) and Bass (below) smart speakers

Will Enthusiasts Ever Learn to Love Smart Tech?

versus Class D amps is relevant. When did home theater—a hobby supposedly made up of technology enthusiasts—turn into The Antiques Roadshow?

 

Case in point, in my video I talked about a month-long experiment I’m trying whereby I’m going to only enjoy my music and movies via some form of wireless connection and/or connectivity to see if it’s possible. This means my display, a 75-inch Sony X950G UltraHD TV, is serving as the primary hub for a 2.1-channel entertainment system. My speakers—Bowers & Wilkins’ new Formation Duo and Formation Bass—are “connected” to the Sony via a Bluetooth connection.

 

In other words, I’m forgoing a receiver or processor, power amp, and all necessary cables needed between them. I am a vinyl enthusiast, so not wanting to go without my beloved records, I opted for a turntable with Bluetooth capability as well. Total number of cables . . . four. Total number of devices to enjoy said entertainment . . . four. Four down from nine. Had I gone with Bowers & Wilkins’ Formation soundbar, we’d be talking about three components total!

 

A day into the experiment, and already I’m feeling like going back to the “old” way of doing things is going to be difficult. It likely will be as difficult for me to give up as it is

proving to be for my audience to accept. For the mere thought of not being able to pontificate about the pros and cons of buying a new amplifier or processor is proving too much for some. Nevertheless, what I’m describing is without question the future of everything AV, which begs the question: Are the enthusiasts currently charged with this industry’s survival going to be the ones who ultimately kill it when they prove incapable of embracing change?

Andrew Robinson

Andrew Robinson is a photographer and videographer by trade, working on commercial
and branding projects all over the US. He has served as a managing editor and
freelance journalist in the AV space for nearly 20 years, writing technical articles,
product reviews, and guest speaking on behalf of several notable brands at functions
around the world.