New Neeo remote modernizes the face of Control4 smart home systems

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Changing the remote control in a family’s central TV room is a task that cannot be taken lightly. So, the switch from Control4’s button-packed remote to its re-introduced minimalist Neeo (the Switzerland-based brand it acquired in February) caused early concern in me.

While we were initially blown away by the design aesthetic of the Neeo, its lack of buttons and reliance on an integrated touchscreen also required a bit of ‘relearning’ from my family. for where to find some essential commands. Now that we’ve got a handle on the new design, going back to our original Control4 remote would feel like we were going from an iPhone to a flip phone.

Take the Neeo remote control out of the box

Introduced in 2016, Neeo’s remote control gained relatively rapid industry recognition for its simplistic setup, out-of-the-box interoperability with thousands of devices, and most notably, its beautifully crafted industrial design. Following the acquisition of Control4, the Neeo product team based in Bern, Switzerland, began working with the Control4 engineering group in Salt Lake City on the development of this next-generation version of its flagship controller, which should be compatible with the recently released Control4. Smart home OS3.

Right out of the box (literally), it’s clear that the Wi-Fi-connected Neeo, while still being a pro-level device, is meant to be user-friendly enough to add to a system without intervention from the integrator. The packaging is exquisite in a direct-to-consumer manner and not the type of box you would feel comfortable throwing right in the trash. If you are a Control4 customer running OS 3.1, you can theoretically install the Neeo remote control yourself, but the order should still go through your Control4 dealer. However, new Control4 customers should not only purchase their Neeo remote from a Control4 dealer, but also have it installed by them.

The Control4 team had so much confidence in me and the user-friendliness of the new remote, apparently, that they sent it directly to me for “installation”, although I am not trained to use the programming software. Dial from Control4. This plan unfortunately ran into a problem or two as I found that my system was not yet upgraded to OS3.1 (I only had OS3) which needed to be done remotely by my integrator. Also, one of the key features of the Neeo remote is the addition of favorite channels, which had not yet been activated by my integrator in Composer. After watching this Smart Skill video, my buddy Andy from Millennium Sounds in Indianapolis got my remote to work as promised, but integrators are wise to prepare customers’ systems in advance or stay nearby to make minor adjustments afterwards. the sale of the remote control to them. who wish to self-install.

The look and feel of the Neeo remote

The fit and finish of the Neeo Remote machine’s aluminum frame is unlike any remote I have ever held in my hand. There is an appropriate amount of weight to keep the ultra-thin design from blowing off like a slippery bar of soap and a subtle rubberized surface material covering the back and buttons that resemble the matte finish of a fancy magazine. .

Available in black or silver, the Neeo remote charges vertically in a weighted stand (355g; 12.52oz) for added stability and magnetized to prevent the remote from moving easily. While the high-resolution 81mm (3.2in) touchscreen and software-driven graphical interface reduce the number of buttons, the remote still includes physical buttons for the essentials like volume up and down, channel up and down, the selection dial, Mute, Menu, Home and On / Off. This is where family “recycling” comes in.

Control4 Neeo remote control

Comparison of the traditional Control4 remote control and the new Neeo remote control

Initially, my 11-year-old daughter, who loves watching recorded versions of her favorite competition shows, like The Voice and American’s Got Talent, was puzzled by the lack of play buttons on the remote. I had to show him how to swipe left or right on the touchscreen to find the correct page to play, pause, stop, rewind, fast forward, and save. It’s not as intuitive to begin with as you might hope.

Even after we have finally adjusted our habits, there is always the challenge of pressing the right place on the remote control to resume reading after fast forwarding through the commercials. It’s definitely not a remote for those who need a more tactile experience. I’m not yet 50, so I can still keep my index finger over the play button while moving to the next segment of my favorite show, avoiding commercials, but I can’t imagine my mom over 70 years old with the same level of dexterity, and the Neeo remote unfortunately lacks voice control options. (I know… the challenges of the first world.)

The other options in my “Cable” reading touchscreen experience are the numbered keypad on one page and the much less used function keys on another. Having the favorite icons of my most watched TV channel right on the home screen is probably the most useful new feature of the Neeo remote.

To convince my wife, I made sure to put CNN in first position, so that she no longer had to press “Watch” first followed by the source (Cable, Apple TV, Blu-ray or Wii), then hit in the channel number, which has four digits on our Uverse system. Now she can just grab the remote and press the CNN logo, and it goes straight to the only channel she’s watching. Favorites adjustments unfortunately cannot be made directly in the remote, but they are changed relatively easily in the app and then immediately updated on the remote.

On the home page of my remote, I can also select Listen, which controls my third-party multi-room audio system. For those who use a streaming device within the Control4 family, this operation would also allow access to music stations. I also have access to Lighting, which connects me to all Control4 dimmers in my system, as well as my lighting scenes throughout the house. Air conditioning is also available to adjust your smart thermostat.

It’s great that the Neeo remote controls TV, movies, music, lights, thermostats, and pretty much anything in a Control4 smart home, but for me it’s still very important that my primary remote does things right, first and foremost. I want it to turn the right devices on and off in my relatively complicated stack of TV, AV receiver, cable box, Blu-ray player, Apple TV, and Wii controller, and never go out of sync; the Neeo remote did this perfectly in the first couple of weeks that I use it. It also features easy-to-locate volume, channel, and mute buttons, which are aptly tactile buttons, providing a semblance of familiarity to many consumers accustomed to pressing a traditional button.

While I’m still adjusting to touchscreen pages and looking for certain control buttons, even the best product designs (and this is one of them) require a learning curve to the end user.

Is this remote suitable for all Control4 customers? No, but it’s a much-needed replacement for many consumers who owned a Control4 remote that was starting to show its age and was too button-laden and bulky to serve as the face of the sophisticated technology Control4 uses behind the scenes. thousands of smart homes across the country. I think it’s a winner and well worth the learning curve.

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