In this review we’ll take a look at the Re hardware and software and how it integrates with your iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch. The Re is fully compatible with both the iPod Touch and the iPhone and has been demonstrated on the iPad even though it is not yet officially approved. From this point on in the article we will refer to the “iPod” as a collective term instead of “iPod Touch, iPad, iPhone” repeated over and over again.
When we review a new remote control device there are several factors that we take into account. The hardware is one of the most critical factors because once the remote is programmed it’s the device itself that is going to be in your hands every time you sit down on your favorite chair to relax.
If you own an iPod you already know what an AWESOME device it is. The screen resolution is gorgeous and the touch screen is very responsive. The iPod is light and thin and fits nicely in one hand. It’s also smaller than most of the other remote controls you would replace.
The Re hardware unit connects to the bottom charging port on the iPod and extends from the iPod by less than an inch. The overall thickness of the Re accessory is a tad thicker than the iPod Touch and more comparable to the iPhone. The IR diode is positioned at an angle that allows easy viewing of the iPod screen while positioning the IR beam for best device receiver response.
The Re is an IR accessory so you must point it directly at your equipment, therefore, you must turn your iPod upside down. Obviously the Re App is built upside down (which must have been interesting during development) so this is not as awkward as it may sound. In fact, it’s hardly noticeable. The only thing that is different when your iPod is upside down is the button at the bottom center of the iPod is now at the top. That’s a little weird when you want to close the App and check something else on your iPod but then you quickly realize “Hey, I’m checking out another App on my iPod! I can’t do that with any other remote!”
When the iPhone was first introduced there were a lot of people who said that they could never get used to an entirely touch screen PDA. This debate has been raging in the world of remote controls as well and it is something you should consider. When you use the Re you must look down at your iPod screen to see the button you are pressing. There are no hard buttons to program with the commands you use the most. There is no tactile feedback. So, if you’re a heavy channel surfer and you need to have your finger hover on the Channel Up button at all times a touch screen remote may not be right for you. However, many of the same people who said they would never use a touch screen cell phone a few years ago are proud iPhone owners today.
Of course, there are ways to make a touch screen remote control more user-friendly. The New Kinetix Re allows you to rearrange the buttons and move them to where they can be easily accessed. This is a powerful feature of the App that other solutions may not offer.
Like we said; if you own an iPod you know what an awesome device is it! And, the Re accessory is just an IR extension from the iPod. So, I guess the real power of this remote control solution is in the software, or, as we say in iTunes, the App.
The Re Universal Remote Control App is a free download from the iTunes App store and is compatible with iPhone OS 3.1 or greater. You must download and the App and have the Re accessory connected to your iPod before you begin setting up your remote or, as the caution message says, the Re “may not function as intended.”
Once the App is installed, and the Re accessory is connected, you may begin programming your remote. The iPod is a portable device that may easily travel with you and New Kinetix recognizes that and allows you to program the remote for several rooms in your home â€“ or out. That’s right, the Re is so small and may be programmed so quickly that we’ve already heard from many customers who plan to take it on the road and use it in their hotel rooms.
To program the Re you go to the Rooms menu and add a room by selecting the plus sign in the top left of the screen. Give your room a name, then hit
Once the Room is set-up the next step would be to add the devices in that room that you would like to control. In our test system we will be programming the Re with a typical home theater including a TV, Cable Box PVR, AV Receiver, XBOX and Sony PlayStation 3 with IR to Bluetooth Adapter. To add devices you first select the room > select DEVICES > hit EDIT at the top right > select the “+” button at the top left > choose the manufacturer of the device by either scrolling vertically down the list or by using the horizontal slide bar at the bottom of the screen to jump through the alphabetical much more quickly. Once your manufacturer is highlighted, select the NEXT button at the top right of your iPod and use the same navigation to select the type of device. The select the NEXT button again and you will have the chance to test a few different code set recommendations.
Testing the code set recommendations was a quick and easy way for us to find the codes we needed. A few basic buttons are listed right at the top of the test page so you may try several different code sets in just a few seconds. There is also a “TEST REMOTE” button at the bottom right of the screen which we recommend diving deeper into once you’ve confirmed that the buttons at the first test page work. A perfect example of why we make this recommendation may be seen when we tested the Re with our Yamaha AV Receiver. Yamaha has been using the same basic IR code sets for many, many years but the routing of the commands may change. We found several code sets that tested perfectly when we tried the volume and mute buttons but then we tested more commands we found that the source selection commands were often mislabeled or missing. We finally did find the perfect Yamaha code set with all of the source commands we needed after testing a few incomplete ones and the extra time was certainly worth it to get a perfect remote.
Once the device is programmed you may change the device name to anything you want so if you call your Scientific Atlanta HD PVR the “silver box with the clock” you can choose that custom name and never be confused again.
Setting up Activities is just as easy as setting up devices and just as logical as controlling your equipment by hand. We tell all of our customers that if they can put every remote control in the house away and control their equipment by hand (blasphemy) then they will be able to program an activity as well. But, the truth is that the Re programming software makes it even easier for you by asking logical questions for every key part of the process like “Select the device that provides sound that you control with volume and mute buttons.” The Activity programming is very similar to programming a Logitech Harmony remote except that this programming is done entirely on the iPod and no internet connection or online database is needed.
Now that we have programmed all of our devices, and have tweaked all of our activities we’re going to take advantage of another key feature of the Re App â€“ Favorites. Go back to the Room menu > select the room > select Favorites > hit the Edit button at the top right > hit the “+” button at the top left. Next you may enter a name for the Favorite channel list (i.e. Sports, News, Kids) > select the activity >enter the channel number > Select a Logo from their huge list of included icons or just hit next if you do not see the icon you want or choose not to have one shown > Name the channel > repeat for as many channels as you like. This is a time-consuming process and we recommend only programming favorite channels AFTER you have confirmed that the remote is working perfectly. You can cut and paste favorites from one room to another which is handy if you have several rooms working from the same type of TV programming source such as cable or satellite. Once the remote is programmed properly and your favorite channels are in place with their corresponding logos you’ll appreciate the power and customization of having a touch screen remote and the awesome-ness of the iPod itself.
USING THE RE
There are many, many ways to customize the Re. You start with the programming mentioned above but then you may continue to tweak it even further by customizing the button layout for each and every page. You can remove, rearrange or add buttons to any activity page and even add an entire row if you need more real estate to work. The buttons for the activity are then all placed on one page that you may scroll up and down. Sliding left or right also allows you to quickly change from one activity page to another. The activity page also has a locked row at the bottom for volume controls which is unaffected by scrolling.
We have been pleasantly surprised by the powerful programming that the Re offers and love the idea of using a dedicated iPod Touch as a remote control. The iPod Touch starts at just $199 and the Re is available now for just $69.95 from RemoteShoppe.com which makes the complete package price less expensive than the Logitech Harmony Touch screen remote with the same features plus all of the other benefits of the iPod â€“ including thousands of Apps!