Product Review (November 2008)
RTI Remote Technologies Inc.
T3-V Wireless Remote Controller

By Kevin Nakano


There are many universal remotes available for controlling home theater systems. However, most have limitations that make full customization difficult. Seamless integration is not easy and requires a skilled installer who knows the system components and how they interact with one another. Problems such as components placed behind cabinet doors make controlling the system more complex and challenging. Conventional IR remotes (including universal remotes) require clear line-of-sight to the components, but often this is not practical from the user's seating location. Remote Technologies, Incorporated (RTI) addresses all of these issues and offers a series of advanced control products designed to simplify a complex entertainment system. We have had some previous experience with RTI's T3 and T4 remote controllers and love the way they control a complex home theater system. At that time we came to the conclusion that RTI offers installers a complete solution for customers needing a fully customizable remote controller for their system. Fortunately, RTI continues to improve their remotes and have recently released the new and improved T3-V. The T3-V is the second generation of the award winning T3 handheld system controller we reviewed earlier last year. The new contemporary design looks great with its darker exterior and features a much improved 3.5” high resolution resolution (480x640) color touchscreen that allows users to display graphics, photos, and web pages with excellent detail that was not possible with the earlier T3 design. Something new to the T3-V is the addition of wireless Ethernet and a built-in web browser allowing the user to access web pages and IP addressable devices, including IP control for web based integration applications.

The T3-V also has buttons with tactile feel that are spaced farther apart than the earlier design, giving the user better control. In addition, two new buttons for Power and Info have been added along with an easy to use three-way rocker switch for scrolling list navigation. The body of the remote is made from an anti-slip material giving it a nice feel. Like the original T3, the T3-V works with other RTI automation devices offering features such as RF transmission through walls and cabinets, power sensing for reliable operation, and RS-232 communications for advanced control systems.

The Cradle
The T3-V sits in a weighted cradle where two contacts are used to charge the internal Lithium-Polymer battery. The charge LED indicator on the docking base illuminates red when the unit is charging and then turns blue once the battery is fully charged. Compared to the earlier T3 design, the T3-V base has a diffused power indicator that makes it much less distracting in the dark. A fully discharged battery will take approximately 2-4 hours to completely recharge. Users can keep the T3-V in the docking station indefinitely without worrying about overcharging the battery. The base comes with a universal switching power supply that provides 5-6V at 2 amps and accepts a wide input voltage from 100-240VAC. The base also includes a clever design that locks in the power plug and allows the power cable to exit the back or from either side of the cradle.

Under Cover
The back cover of the T3-V is much easier to remove than its predecessor. The battery in the T3-V appears to be the same physical size offered in the earlier T3 design, but it is very different in both storage technology as well as capacity. The new battery provides users with a 40% increase in storage capacity going from a 3.6V/1200mAH Li-Ion to a 3.6V/1700mAH Li-Polymer. The battery appears to be user replaceable with a pair of screws and a brace holding it down and a simple two-pin connector providing the electrical interface. Behind the rear cover is the small USB connector and the unit's power switch. The USB cable is a standard 5-pin connector compatible with generic USB cables designed for smaller portable devices. Under normal conditions, the customer will never have to remove the rear cover since the unit sits in a recharging cradle. However, the power switch is used to access the Control Panels for setting up the basic functions of the TV-3. By holding down the Home button while switching the unit on, the TV-3 will enter the Control Panel mode.

T3-V Control Panels
The T3-V has several Control Panels that define how the remote operates. These screens can also be accessed by assigning a Control Panel page link to a button using the Integration Designer™ software. Features such as Backlight Level, Time Out, Sound, Touchscreen Calibration, Tilt Switch, Battery, and Network Information are accessed through these screens. The following images are the control panels within the T3-V Controller. Each of the parameters can be defined by the dealer to suite the needs of the customer.

 

To return to the user program, either press Exit or the Home button.

Integration Designer™
The real power behind the RTI product line is not only a complete line of feature-rich controllers and accessories, but a powerful software package called Integration Designer™ that gives dealers the tools and flexibility needed to create a powerful control system for their customers. Integration Designer™ is a Windows®-based software package that is specifically designed to create and program RTI's Integration Control Systems. With over tens year of development, Integration Designer™ allows virtually unlimited flexibility in the design and look of the system's interface and allows dealers to save and leverage from existing designs, dramatically reducing the time required to implement new designs. Each screen can be fully customized and a complete set of editing tools are provided to create custom graphics for the display. Several preloaded screens and buttons are provided to help the designer create wonderful looking screens to control the system.

As the user edits the main LCD screen graphics, the buttons on the screen can also be defined. Specific IR codes, macros or jumping to another screen can be linked to any button. The Macro Editor provides a simple user interface for allowing every button in the system to carry out complex multi-step actions. In addition, the hard buttons shown in the lower left corner of the application can also be defined. These buttons can change their function based on the current screen or be defined so that they always perform the same function. Integration Designer™ includes a powerful Infrared Library Manager, which gives dealers access to a large IR database and allows infrared codes to be read (using IR PRO) and stored for easy reuse in other RTI systems. Dealers can download updates from the RTI website as needed.

Updating
The screens created using the Integration Designer™ software can be quickly tested using the remote once the configuration is transferred to the controller. The software includes a basic simulator that will give designers a good feel for how the controller will work without having to download the data. Many of the issues can be resolved early with the exception of the actual IR commands being sent. The picture shows the screen on the T3-V that was created using the Integration Designer™ application. As you can see the remote screen looks exactly like the software screen where it was created. Our screen shot shown here represents a portion of the user interface controls we set up for our Dish Network ViP722 high-definition DVR. This DVR gives us full control of our recorded content and allows us to control it with the easy to use T3-V. A single button push on the channel icon sends a four digit command to the set-top box without needing clear line-of-sight to the DVR. Navigating through the various menus is completely user defined and can have as many layers as desired (only limited by memory, which is quite large). We needed about 7 screens to fully control our DVR with a single menu for all frequently used controls.

Once the remote design and setup is complete, a single button in the Integration Designer™ software sends the latest configuration data to the remote. A second button sends the data to the controller (in our case the RP-6). Both units are updated using the included USB cables. The process only takes seconds and the installer can quickly check to see if the operation of the system is working correctly. It is easy to spend a long time customizing every aspect of the system into the remote since the environment allows an enormous amount of flexibility and control.

IR PRO
Capturing IR commands from existing remote controls will become necessary even with the extensive database provided in the Integration Designer™ software. RTI's IR PRO is designed to sample IR commands from any existing remote and assigns the unique pattern to a name in the database. The well constructed and compact IR PRO measures 2.75" x 4.5" x 1.25" and connects to the computer via a USB cable provided with the unit. The front left indicator flashes when the unit is receiving an IR command. The tricolor LED on the right side illuminates green when the unit is in the capture mode, orange when in the alignment mode and red when the capture is complete. We used the IR PRO to capture codes from our Denon AVR-5308CI remote and Mitsubishi HC5500 remote. The IR PRO is a must for any installation professionals who are serious about creating a custom databases for the products they sell to their clients.

RP-6
The RP-6 is an advanced control processor that is designed to interface to a variety of external devices including IR and RS232 interfaces. RTI remotes can transmit RF commands to the RP-6 using the external RM-433 RF antenna/receiver. The RP-6 then sends IR or RS232 commands directly to the connected components through wired connections. We have placed several IR repeaters in our setup that transmit IR commands directly to the components. Sometimes it is better to use a wired RS232 interface for better reliability if the component supports it. Currently our Mitsubishi HC5500 LCD projector, Denon AVR-5308CI receiver, OPPO OP971H DVD player, HDMI video switcher and other components make use of wired IR and CM-232 interfaces to the RP-6.

Using the Integration Designer™ software, the installer can assign each of the six ports with unique names as well as enable or disable IR passthrough capability. The RP-6 can receive IR commands and repeat them to multiple output ports. These four-conductor output ports are designed to work with RTI modules and are fully compatible with industry-standard IR flashers. The Integration Designer™ software can also update the firmware in the RP-6. Three relay driven outputs are rated for 3 amps @ 30 VDC and can be triggered and set for normally-open or normally-closed operation. The RP-6 can be used with multiple RM-433 RF receivers to create a larger coverage area, allowing customers to have more freedom and reliability with their entertainment system.

Conclusion
The RTI T3-V is a significant improvement to the original T3 that we highly praised at the time. The new T3-V tactile buttons work well with the richer looking LCD display. We like the size of the T3-V even though more powerful models such as the T4 are available simply because it is easier to use. What sets RTI apart from other remote companies is the number of accessories available and the ability for users to expand on their system without outgrowing it. Devices such as the RP-6 advanced control processor and RM-433 RF receiver provide reliable RF communication that doesn't have the limitations of IR-only remotes. In addition, the RS232 and power sensing interfaces make the product more powerful than most controllers we have seen. Installers will love the way the Integration Designer™ works and once the time has been invested into the product, other variations of the remote are simple and easy to update.

The latest RTI T3-V is a great addition to the RTI family and comes highly recommended to those needing an easy to use, yet powerful custom remote. Once you have a chance to experience one of these high-end controllers there is no going back to the limited capabilities of universal IR remotes. The controllers are designed to handle a variety of complex systems making it easy for custom installers to adapt. RTI products are designed for and sold exclusively to custom installers and the company is committed to keeping their dealers happy. Based on what we have seen from the company, this will not be difficult.

- Kevin Nakano






OPPO BDP-103 Blu-ray Player




Review System

Projector: Mitsubishi HC5500 Full-HD 1080p LCD Projector
Screen: Stewart Filmscreen 100" FireHawk Screen on a Luxus Deluxe ScreenWall
Video Processor/Scaler: Anchor Bay Technologies DVDO iScan HD+ A/V Processor
Preamplifier/Processor: Parasound AVC-2500U THX-Ultra DTS/DD Preamp/Processor
Amplification: Parasound HCA-2205AT THX-Ultra Five Channel Amplifier
Bass Management: Miller & Kreisel BMC Mini 5.1 Bass Management Controller
Front Speakers: Miller & Kreisel S-150THX (L+R) and S-150AC (Center) Speakers
Rear Speakers: Miller & Kreisel SS-250 Tripole® Surround Speakers
Subwoofer: Two Miller & Kreisel MX-350THX MkII THX-Ultra Push-pull Subwoofers
Room Treatments: Echo Buster panels and Bass Buster towers
Satellite Receiver: Dish Network ViP622 High Definition DVR with HMDI
HD-DVD Player: Toshiba HD-A1 HD-DVD Player with HMDI
Blu-ray Player: Sony PlayStation3 Game Console with HDMI
DVD/CD/SACD Player: Sony DVP-NS900V DVD/CD/SACD Player
DVD Audio/Video Player: Kenwood Sovereign DV-5900M 400-Disc DVD Changer

D-VHS VCR: JVC HM-DH30000U D-VHS High-Definition D-Theater VCR
A/V Cables: Ultralink Platinum and Advanced Performance Series Cables
DVI Cable: AudioQuest DV-1 20m DVI-D Cable
HDMI Cable: VizionWare Hi-Wirez 15-meter Active 1080p Cable
HDMI Video Switcher: Radiient Technologies Select-4 HDMI Video Switcher
Power Conditioning: Panamax MAX® 5510 ACRegenerator
Video Generator: Sencore VP300 SDTV/HDTV Video Pattern Generator
Color Analyzer #1: Sencore CP5000 ISF Certified All-Display Color Analyzer
Color Analyzer #2: ColorFacts PRO with GretagMacbeth Eye-One Pro Colorphotometer


Review - At a Glance

RTI - T3-V Universal Controller

Features

  • Ergonomic design permits effortless one-handed operation.
  • Full VGA resolution (480x640) color TFT LCD to display custom buttons, text, graphics and animations.
  • Fifteen assignable/programmable keypad buttons.
  • Three-way rocker switch for scrolling list navigation.
  • Integrated 802.11 wireless Ethernet.
  • Tilt switch can automatically turn on the backlight when picked up.
  • Extremely bright, backlit display and keypad.
  • Intuitive layout of keypad buttons for commonly used functions.
  • Transmits IR and RF (or both - on a single button or within a macro!).
  • Optional RF receiver allows you to transmit through walls, cabinets, etc.
  • Completely customizable and programmable.
  • Extremely wide IR transmitting frequency range.
  • Optional ‘Voltage’ and ‘Video’ sensing modules to monitor power status of equipment.
  • Optional interface for RS-232 controlled equipment.
  • Non-volatile Flash memory stores your system configuration even when power is not present.
  • Field upgradeable firmware.
  • USB Programming.

Specifications
Power3.6 VDC, 1700 mAh Lithium-Polymer Battery Pack
Power ManagementAutomatic On/Off (tilt switch)
Infrared Control Range30 feet (9.1 meters) @ 60 degrees
Infrared Frequency Range15 KHz - 460 KHz
Radio Frequency Control Range

Up to 100 feet (30.5 meters)
(with optional System Interfaces/Processors)

Radio Frequency Carrier433 MHz
Wireless Ethernet 802.11 @ 2.4Ghz
DisplayHigh-brightness color TFT LCD
Full VGA (480x640 pixels) with 65k colors
Integrated high-resolution touchscreen
Display Size (H x W)3.5 in (89mm) diagonal
BacklightWhite LED (Display), Blue/Red/White LED (Keypad)
Operating Temperature+32°F to +122°F (0°C to +50°C)
Operating Humidity5% to 95% Non-condensing
Total System Memory32M Bytes Flash (non-volatile) memory
Device CapabilityTotal number of devices is limited only by memory
Macro CapabilityUnlimited steps in a single macro
Total number of macros is limited only by memory
Macro capability on every button
CommunicationsUSB programming port
EnclosureHigh-impact molded ABS plastic
Dimensions (H x W x D)7.6 in (193mm) x 3.1 in (79mm) x 1.1 in (28mm)
Weight7.4 oz (200g)
WarrantyOne Year (Parts & Labor)

T3-V Brochure (PDF, 1.72M)


Company Information
RTI Corporate Headquarters
5775 12th Avenue East, Suite 180
Shakopee, MN 55379
Phone: 952-253-3100
Fax: 952-253-3131

URL: www.rticorp.com




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