Rē Universal Remote

Author: Sven Rafferty
March 22nd, 2010
newkinetix-press-kit.pdf (application/pdf Object)

Pros

  • Tremendous remote control database
  • Simple key layout
  • Very easy to customize
  • Powerful infrared transceiver

Cons

  • Bit complex to set up remote (too many steps)
  • Favorites require association to Activity
  • Unable to disable vibration within application
  • Inability to add user images for buttons
  • Steep price

The Bottom Line
You can finally take control of all remote controls in one place with the Rē. The Rē contains enough built-in infrared databases to make you say aloud, “I’ve never heard of half of these brands,” while easily finding your well known brand. Finally be able to view a DVD from your home theater with just one button press while the Rē powers and sets everything up for you.

Ratings

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Recommended
Yes

Full Review

I once had an iPAQ 3600 series that had a built-in universal remote by Nevo. I loved it as it was always with me and became a major factor in my work outs at the club since I no longer had to beg the staff to change the channels on the TVs. It also made home entertainment as well as playing tricks at my friends house simple and fun. Thankfully Barry Baril of NewKinetix also enjoyed the same experiences as I did with his iPAQ of yesteryear and this was, “One of my motivations to build the Rē,” he told me in an email. Outside of the built-in infrared port missing from the iPhone, is the Rē as good as the Nevo?


The Rē comes packaged in a nice box accompanied by a healthy and in-depth manual. Also found with the iPod Dock Connector accessory is a nice little case to keep it protected when not on your iPhone or iPod touch. When you connect the infrared accessory to the phone and tap on the Rē icon, downloadable for free from the App Store, the iPhones screen flips 180 degrees to cause your remote to be the top of the unit. The button layout is simple, though thorough. On the bottom you’ll find a Tab bar showing icons for Rooms, Devices, Activities, Favorites, and Settings. Rooms are where the various “rooms” of remotes will find home to such as your Living Room, Office, and Bed Room for example. Devices is where your actual remotes can be dialed into. Activities is a “super remote” of sorts where macros and buttons from various remotes come together to tie an event, such as viewing a DVD, in one place. Favorites is a list of commonly visited channels associated to an activity remote that a user pre-defines. One tap History Channel, folks! Settings, while not exhaustive, is where some fine tuning occurs.

Instead of trying to mimic a particular brands remote look and feel or make a generic remote layout, Rē simply places a charcoal background behind black, silver, or green buttons. Most are rounded edged squares but some are in the same of triangles. Nothing fancy that’ll grab your eyes attention but it also helps those eyes focus on the button itself. Gnarly remotes, however, can give you the lost at sea feeling with the long list of buttons draped upon your iPhones screen.

Now, Rē’s system is a bit different from what you may be use to. In attempts to organize a vast array of remotes, NewKinetix establishes a system to add, um, control all your remote controls. To add a new remote, you first must add it to a room. If you have the same TV repeated in your home, yes, this means you’ll have to add this to various rooms…or just have single “room” on the remote. Once in your room, you select Device such as TV, DVD, or combo unit. Then find your brand and lastly your IR code. If you do not know it, which I can’t imagine why any one would, you can have the remote find it for you. Simply point the iPhone at the device and let Rē blast code after code toward your device. When it powers on or off, you’ve found the proper code. Not too hard, huh?

If your device isn’t in the list of devices, there is an Unlisted database as well, then you can program your remote as I did for an old Panasonic boom box I have from college that is 20 years old. The process is pretty easy to do but obviously becomes a tedious task if your remote has a lot of functions as my Panasonic does. Thankfully when I programmed my Altec Lansing T612 Power Audio System for my iPhone (read review), there was only eight buttons to program. The interesting thing on this unit was that the Bass and Treble codes were inconsistent in working after the Rē notified me of a successful programming. Sometimes the button for Bass or Treble would work, sometimes they wouldn’t. Another disappointment was the lack of a labeled button for them. Maybe I had the incorrect device selected, but I could not find any BASS or TREBLE images to use for these two. Sadly, there is no way to import custom images, either. One last oddity was the lack of a Play/Pause button which nearly every one of my devices have. Why doesn’t the Rē? Adding, removing, or modifying existing buttons was a peace of cake on the Rē. Moving buttons in the layout is also very easy.

To test out the database, anytime I found myself at a friends house or at a store, I started adding devices. The looks on the faces of the Sam’s Club members that one afternoon was priceless. In short, every new device I pointed the Rē at eventually found an IR code for. Heck, I even was able to find one for an old Emerson TV/VCR combo hanging in the waiting room of Texas Roadhouse one evening that allowed me to change the channel to something I liked and turn up the volume. :)

When you have a ton of remotes loaded up for a room, you can swipe either left to right or right to left to switch to another remote. Nice! Scrolling the screen up or down extends the remote easily as well. A double tap on a blank spot puts you in full screen removing the bottom navigation row and the iPhones top status bar.

Home theaters involve a lot of devices. For myself, there’s the need for my Denon AVR-5800, Sony DVD player, and Sony TV to all turn on and be placed to the proper positions. Interestingly enough, the Denon’s remote codes reverse the volume control (up really turns volume down and the vice versa for the other button.) Going through the task of powering up three devices, changing the input on the TV, selecting the proper source and audio format on the receiver, and getting to the DVDs menu is a task in itself. With Activity, that problem all goes away. Only the buttons you’ll need to view your DVD are present…from all your various remotes! Additionally, hitting a single power button on the Activity remote powers up ALL your devices. Macros help set everything up with just one button pressing. Now THIS is what universal remotes are for.

The last Tab button of use is the Favorites. Favorites icons filled with every channel available, it seems, can be found here. It is a massive list. Some icons are too small to recognize, though, such as NHL Center Ice. Favorites can become a bit complex to use, however, due to the fact that it needs to be associated to an Activity. This makes sense, since Rē needs to know which remote to pair your command with; nevertheless, there should be an easier way to make this happen. Maybe having some Favorites on the actual Remote screen, as well, would be nice.

I found the Rē transmitter to be pretty powerful. I was able to control my Denon receiver from well over 40 feet away. Mileage will vary from device to device, but I think you’ll find most of your units will be very responsive to Rē. Outside of the complexity of setup for your remotes and how you access them, especially the Favorites, the Rēs only other issue I can think of is that you cannot disable the vibration with every soft button pressing. You are able to mute the button “click” but to stop the iPhone from vibrating after each button press, you need to disable that in the iPhones settings. Of course, this defeats all vibration which isn’t a good work around.

Version Tested: 1.0

Price: $69.95

Platform: iPhone or iPod touch running iPhone OS 3.1 or greater

Website: Product Information


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