Review (November 2008)
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.
To return to the user program, either press Exit or the Home button.
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.
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.
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.
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
Mitsubishi HC5500 Full-HD 1080p LCD Projector
|Review - At a Glance|
RTI - T3-V Universal Controller
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