Q. Can You Recommend a Simple Remote for My Home Theater?

Gregg Schwartz of Trage Bros. Inc. breaks down the pros and cons of touch screen and "candy bar" remotes.

Jun. 02, 2008 — by Gregg Schwartz

Q. I’m building a home theater and need a simple bullet proof remote system to run everything from lighting to A/V equipment. I am leaning to either a
Control4 unit or RTI system. Your thoughts?
- John, FL

A. Both of these brands should offer competent solutions to your needs. The big question is: Who will be using the remote and how do you envision it performing? When we work with a client on a remote control selection, we place a touch screen remote and a slimmer “candy bar” style remote in front of them and provide a quick explanation of benefits and liabilities.

The touch screen has larger, easier to read “soft” buttons, fewer “hard” buttons (which helps keep operation simple), a rechargeable battery and charging base, and visual feedback confirming execution of your commands. Personally, the ability to simplify the interface by eliminating unwanted buttons is my favorite touch screen benefit. A well programmed touch screen remote puts the right commands at your fingertips each and every time. However, touch screen remotes are generally more fragile, require two hands for operation and possess batteries which can die during use if not properly charged.
The slimmer “candy bar” type remote is easier to hold with one hand, while still able to perform plenty of automated functions (provided you purchase a better model). Embedding lighting control in a “candy bar” style remote can be done, but I know of no “hard” buttons with lighting commands engraved into them.

Depending on your system configuration, I would recommend an RF receiver base which will eliminate pointing the remote at the intended component. Proper programming from a professional will place you directly into the path of A/V ecstasy.

While Control4 and Netstreams (DigiLinx) also offer remote control capabilities, I believe Universal and RTI provide better solutions. They have a wider scope of products, ranging from the affordable to high-end. I own three Universal Remote MX3000s and my 5-year old can operate any A/V component in our home. So can grandma!

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