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Friday
Nov112016

Podcast #765: Ray Super Remote

Just like a conductor’s baton a good remote control is mandatory to conduct and direct the use of your home theater. We’ve reviewed so many over the years. Ara has settled on the Simple Control application running on an iPad Mini while Braden uses the Logitech Harmony Remotes around his home. But today we are taking a look at the Ray Super Remote (Buy Now $249) which creators bill as the “the ultimate touchscreen universal remote control”.

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Ray Super Remote

Just like a conductor’s baton a good remote control is mandatory to conduct and direct the use of your home theater. We’ve reviewed so many over the years. Ara has settled on the Simple Control application running on an iPad Mini while Braden uses the Logitech Harmony Remotes around his home. But today we are taking a look at the Ray Super Remote (Buy Now $249) which creators bill as the “the ultimate touchscreen universal remote control”.

 

Features

  • Fast setup, responsive interface, high resolution display
  • Sophisticated recommendation engine
  • Rechargeable battery
  • Support for Hue Lights and Nest Thermostats

The Ray Super Remote is a nicely built piece of hardware. The fit and finish remind us of a high quality smartphone. In fact it's about the size of a smartphone of yesterday. It's a bit thicker and heavier. No biggie since you won’t be carrying it around with you. Front and back are made of gorilla glass so it should stand up to wear and tear of daily use. And the occasional fall off the coffee table.

The charging cradle also feels substantial and will sit firmly on your end table. The remote slides in and out with ease. We have gotten about two days battery use out of one charge with typical usage. But if you really go into the guides and recommendations pages you will probably get less. Fortunately it is simple to place the remote on the cradle every evening and have a fully charged remote in the morning.


Setup

This is an area where the remote excels. Setup up takes about 10 to 15 minutes. First you connect to Wifi and then let it download updates and codes. Next you tell it how you watch TV.  For this portion you have to be in front of your TV and have it on. In our case we turned on the TV, AV Receiver and Satellite box. The remote asks you tell it what kind of TV you have. Then it tells you that it will perform an action and you need to respond with yes it happened or no it did not. After a few of these it decides on a command set for the device and you are done.

You do this for all your devices. You also tell it what input the TV and receiver are on so it can switch them for you. We setup our Blu-ray, AppleTV, DirecTV Genie, Receiver, and TV. The remote does not have FireTV capability. You can request that Ray adds the commands for equipment you have that is not supported through their website. In addition to lack of support for the FireTV there currently is no support for PlayStation, Roku stick, or Chromecast. Plus there is no support for multiple rooms. So if you want to use the remote in another room you will need to buy an additional remote.


Use

The remote works well! Although it took us a little time to get used to pointing the remote towards the TV. The Simple Control remote works from anywhere and you wouldn’t think that is a big deal but it did become a bit annoying to have to remember this. That also means if your equipment is out of sight you will need an IR repeater. But you probably already have one anyway.  The commands went out quickly and the user interface is responsive. The volume control is done via a rocker on the side of the device. Nice tactile buttons to make raising the volume easy without having to look at the screen. There is also a physical mute button as well as a sleep/wake button.

To activate an activity you go to the home screen and select it, DVR, Blu-ray, or AppleTV. The remote fires off the appropriate commands and in a few seconds you are watching what you want. The shutdown process is simple to. You hit the power off button and you are given an option to turn off any device that is currently on or all of them at once.

We were concerned that a small screen with limited buttons would be difficult to use. We wouldn’t call it difficult but it's a bit cumbersome. The main screen for the DVR has the transport controls, which while important are not used as often as changing channels or bringing up the guide and recordings list. For that there are customizable soft keys on the bottom of the screen. There are a few that are always visible but to get to all of them you have to swipe up. We found that the small form factor means you have to hit a few more screens to get to what you want. Still better than using four remotes.

When setting up your remote it asks you questions about what you like to watch and which channels you subscribe to. It then makes recommendations for you. To access these recommendations you hit the TV button on the home screen. You can swipe through your different categories, Movies, News, Sports, Etc, and find something to watch. If the show is currently on pressing the button will tune to that channel. If it's not on you can set a reminder or setup a recording.

Note - The remote is capable of controlling Hue lights and the Nest Thermostat. We do not have these devices in our homes so we were not able to test these features.


Conclusion

You have a lot of choices out there for universal remotes. Some are pretty basic while others not only control your home theater but they also can do home automation. The Ray Super Remote is a great looking and fully featured remote that will indeed make controlling your home theater easier. It's easy to setup and controls almost any device you have. It's a little on the expensive side but like any conductor you need a baton and this device is one cool baton!

 

 

 

 

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