Is this a palm pad or a remote control? Well, I guess it’s a bit of both because it sure does more than any remote I’ve seen before. Take Control has a touch screen that sets it apart from other programmable, learning, multi component, multi function, multi button, multi multi remote controls. I’ll get into all the features in a minute but first let’s have a look at the curvy black box itself. Wow … only 5 buttons and a thumb roller. Even I should be able to remember what these do. And look at the size and shape of this unit. Definitely designed for 2 hand operation (or it sits nicely on the table too). And it’s heavy … substantial … seems to mean business … won’t be lost easily. Oh … and IR windows at both ends (one for commanding and one for learning). And it comes with a serial cable that plugs into the head end (and a CD full of software). Oh oh … looks and sounds complicated. Is Mr. Gates trying to confound me again 🙁

Somfy Automated Shading Solutions
OK Bob, don’t panic. Let’s just see what we have to do to watch the news. It’s on in 20 minutes and all I need to do is turn on the TV and VCR to Channel 6 before then. Hope the kids aren’t watching me cause they love to laugh when I can’t even get the TV to turn on on with one of these fancy gizmos.

1. OK … no time to read the directions … put the batteries in (they even came in the box … yahooo).
2. Push the “Menu” button … oh look there is a menu onscreen and if I roll the roller it selects items from the menu. OK here’s one that says “Device Setup”. That’s what I want to do … I think.
3. OK … 4 selections on the screen ADD EDIT DELETE VIEW. Oh yeah it’s a touch screen … lets select ADD (oops that sure left a greasy fingerprint on the screen … guess I better not try this with a bucket of chicken in progress).
4. It says “Setup Wizard – Roll and press the wheel to select a device category”. OK … roll, roll, roll Aha … there’s TV … click.
5. OK now it says “Select your TV brand” … roll, roll, roll … wow lot’s of selection here … roll, roll … there it is … Telefunken … click.
6. Cool … is says that it has found 6 possible matches and will test until it finds the right one. So I just aim the remote at the TV and push the “TV Power” button on the screen … It asks “Did the TV respond … Yes / No”. No … try again … No … try again … Will you look at that … the TV came on … guess that’s it … click on the Yes button … you mean that’s it? “Do you want to add another device?” OK lets do the VCR.
7. Same process and we’re done. Now the screen lists the devices I have set up. OK I don’t need to add any more devices right now so I touch the No button and it says “Add Activity – Do you want to add the “Watch TV” activity for your Telefunken TV?” Awesome … let’s do it … click.
8. OK it says “Which device do you use to change the channels (and it lists the TV and VCR devices that I set up. Roll, roll select the VCR … click. “Which device do you use to change the volume?” Roll, roll select the TV … click … OK it says we’re done so let’s touch the “Next” button and see what happens.
9. Look at that … there’s a new line in the main menu that says “Watch TV”. Roll, roll … click.
10. Wow … up pops a full screen with all the buttons I need to “Watch TV”. Numbers 0 to 9 for channels, “TV Power” , “VCR Power, “Prev Channel” etc. And what do you know … they work too.

Oh, and the + / – buttons on the remote itself control the volume. And even better, if I roll that wheel, it changes the channels … now that’s cool. I can just set the remote down on the table and reach over to roll through the channels at will. Better not let those kids have this one … I can finally beat them at the 1 minute channel flipping game.

That was pretty simple … why would I need to use my computer to program this thing? Lets see what it’s all about. Insert the CD and connect the remote to the serial port and away we go. This worked pretty seamlessly for me. When prompted by the two minute setup process I say yes to “Do you want to synchronize your PC and TC1000”. OK, now I can view all of the touchscreens and buttons that are on the remote and set them up the way I want. Here is a screen shot of the main menu.

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As you can see, it lets you:

* Edit Activities (i.e. “Watch TV”)
o Add / Delete activities
o Move buttons on the touchscreen,
o Add / Delete buttons for any device on each screen
o Relearn button codes
o Edit settings for the roller and hardware buttons on the remote.

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* SetUp Devices
o Add / Delete devices
o Add / Delete buttons for each device
o Relearn / Rename button codes
* SetUp the Home Menu
o Add / Delete and Rearrange items on the Home Menu
* SetUp Macros
o Now we’re talking …more on this below.
* Synchronize with the TC1000
o Push this button to upload or download the changes made.

MACROS – Why you gotta have em.

Take a look at the “Watch TV” activity screen above and notice the button that says “Go To Bed”. That’s a Macro button and it runs a series of commands if I push it. Here’s what the Macro Editor screen looks like.

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Very easy to create any macro you like (the manual says you can have about 30 of them) by just dragging and dropping the button functions from any device to the Macro Editor. You can also build in a delay after each step in the macro or send multiple IR commands if you need to. The macro shown above does the following:

* Send X10 code 6 to my OneForAll receiver.
* Send X10 code ON to my OneForAll receiver (this results in my home control system “Go to Bed” macro to run and gives me 2 minutes to get to bed before all the lights go out).
* Turn the TV OFF
* Turn the VCR OFF
* Turn the Home Theater Receiver OFF

I use this almost every night after watching the latenight news and as far as I’m concerned it’s one of the most useful features of my Home Automation System. Without it … when I’m half asleep … I must find and press several buttons to shut off the entertainment system components and then stagger around the house to find all the lights that the kids have left on before finally getting into the sack.

All in all … this is an awesome remote control unit unlike anything I’ve played with to date. I found it easy to learn and use. Perhaps the handiest feature is the roller that can switch channels at the speed of light. My eyes ain’t what they used to be and being able to just reach over and roll is a pleasure. My biggest dilemma is that I’m going to have to part with this unit when someone wins it in the April Tips and Tricks Contest . Oh well, maybe I’ll get one for Father’s Day 🙂 mind you it’s a bit expensive ($349) for the kids (unless of course Mom can be convinced to participate).