every home theater system we have reviewed required a custom remote control. This
was largely due to the number of components and the complications that arise when
integrating them. Often times, the location of these components create a problem
when sending IR commands from the user's seating location. Universal remotes help
get rid of the remote clutter, but seldom address the IR line-of-sight problem.
More sophisticated controllers are sometimes requested by customers if they happen
to know about them and often times involve a complex configuration. Remote
Technologies, Incorporated (RTI) offers a series of products designed to help
automate home theaters and audio/video systems. Located in Minneapolis, Minnesota,
RTI has a full line of hand-held and wall remotes, control processors, and RF
receivers. We had the opportunity to review some of their products including the
powerful T3 Color Remote Controller, RP-6 Remote Control Processor with the RM-433
RF receiver, and the IR PRO for capturing remote commands. We spent a considerable
amount of time learning the software and the product's capabilities. Professional
installers will be thrilled with the ability to customize the screen graphics
and IR commands.
RTI's T3 is the ultimate handheld universal controller with
a bright, touch sensitive, high-contrast color TFT LCD display, powerful 32-bit
MCU and 32MB of memory. Full customization of the screens and 16 dedicated backlit
buttons that allow easy access to frequently used functions make the remote a
powerful control device for any home theater or audio system. The large 3-1/2"
(diagonal) color touchscreen works well and provides the user with a professional
look and feel. The dedicated backlit keys are easy to see in the dark and can
be fixed in function or can vary with the different screens. The remote is powerful
enough to support many layers of menus programmed into the device. We programmed
a total of 12 sets of custom screens into the T3 and it had no problem managing
all of them. The built-in motion detection circuit automatically illuminates the
keys and display when the unit is picked up. The docking station has a bright
blue LED on the front that illuminates when the unit is being charged.
Programming is simple with the Windows-based TheaterTouch Designer
software and we commend RTI in developing an excellent application for their installers.
We spent a substantial amount of time learning how to program this unit and the
results were excellent. In the end, we had a custom remote that completely controlled
our entire home theater system. RTI offers training for their installers to quickly
bring them up to speed on the capabilities of their products. RTI also offers
an array of accessory devices that are designed to take advantage of the T3's
ability to transmit RF signals through walls and cabinets and allow for more powerful
RS-232 communications for advanced control to other compatible components.
the rear cover of the T3 exposes the main power switch as well as the USB connector
and 3.6V Li-Ion battery pack. Removing the cover requires some force, but it seldom
needs to be done thanks to the rechargeable battery. It appears to be fairly easy
to change the battery pack in the event it needs to be replaced in the future.
Under normal conditions, the user will never have to remove the rear cover since
the unit sits in a recharging cradle. The USB connector mates to the provided
USB cable and is used to interface to a PC. Both program data as well as updated
firmware can be downloaded into the remote using the TheaterTouch
Programming sophisticated remote controllers often requires an experienced installer
with the proper training on the system setup. RTI offers this training to better
utilize their TheaterTouch Designer software. This powerful application
gives installers the ability to completely customize the remote screen and graphics
as well as manage all the IR commands. We installed the latest version (v126.96.36.1998)
for our tests. The application includes the Infrared Library Manager (v188.8.131.52)
that contains a huge IR database. Although this database is extensive, there will
always be new products that need to be added. For example, we recently received
the OPPO OPDV971H DVI-capable DVD player for review and this product was not included
in the current database. Capturing IR codes from remotes is made simple with the
IR PRO Code Capture System available from RTI.
selecting a new remote from the database, the software keeps a list of the last
set of remotes used at the top of the queue. This makes it convenient for the
installer to recall the most commonly used remotes that have been recently accessed.
Once the installer completes the system configuration for the customer, the software
can generate a comprehensive TheaterTouch System Configuration Report which
provides the configuration details for each of the devices installed in the system.
Capturing IR commands from existing remote controls will become necessary
even with the extensive database provided in the TheaterTouch 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 receiveing an IR command. The tri-color 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 Optoma H77 remote, Pioneer DV-47Ai remote and Oppo OPDV971H remote.
This unit is a must for any installation professional who is serious about creating
a custom database.
The TheaterTouch Designer software enables certain features once the IR
PRO is connected to the computer.The user has four tabs to choose from including
Edit, Capture, Waveform View and Hex View. The Edit
tab displays all of the IR commands defined for the remote. Users can easily add
or delete commands from the database.
RTI's RP-6 Remote Control Processor is an advanced control
system for RTI's family of universal remote controls. The RP-6 stores all of the
system's commands in the unit instead of just converting IR-to-RF. The RP-6 is
capable of receiving commands from RTI remotes using the external IR or RF interfaces.
Using the TheaterTouch Designer software, the installer can assign each
of the six ports with unique names as well as enable or disable IR passthrough
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 TheaterTouch Designer software is used
to update the firmware in the RP-6 as well as program the unit. Three relay 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 large coverage area in the installation, allowing customers to have
more freedom and reliability with their entertainment system.
The RM-433 is an RF (radio frequency) receiver that operates
at 433MHz and is designed to receive signals that are transmitted by RTI universal
system controllers such as the T3 we have as part of this review. The RM-433 has
a sophisticated design that filters out non-RTI transmitter signals to prevent
command errors. Valid RTI data is sent out of the unit using a simple three wire
inteface (+12VDC, Ground and Signal) and is compatible with industry standard
infrared repeating systems. The antenna attaches to the main unit using a bayonet
style (BNC) connector. The RM-433 is designed to connect directly to the RTI RP-6
Remote Control Unit with the 10-foot three-conductor wire provided with the unit.
Once connected to the RP-6 and configured using the TheaterTouch Designer software,
the T3 remote had the ability to send RF commands directly to the RP-6 Remote
Control Processor. Once this configuration is used, by default IR commands are
no longer sent directly from the handheld T3. Instead the T3 will send RF (trigger
code) commands to the RP-6, which will start the execution of macros or IR codes
from the memory of the RP-6 to the connected components. You may also modify this
default setting to allow the control of some components via IR directly from the
T3 and some components via RF with the RP-6/RM-433 combination. More impressive
was the range in which the T3 could operate with the RP-6/RM-433 combination.
We were able to control the system from several rooms away. This is particularly
useful if the remote is used with several receiving units.
This is by far the best handheld controller that I have ever used. The fully customizable
color screen is superb and gives installers the ability to really please their
customers. The limitations often encountered with IR-only remotes is solved with
the T3's built-in RF capability when using the accompaning RP-6 remote processor
and RM-433RF receiver. In addition, IR repeating and custom RS-232 interface control
allows users to control many of their high-end components. The
TheaterTouch Designer software gives the installer the power and flexibility
needed to create a system completely customized for each client. We had a great
time finding new ways to improve the way we control our A/V system and the options
seem endless. Futhermore, the IR-PRO gave us the ability to update our own IR
command database for current and future components.
RTI solution comes highly recommended based on our experience with the product.
We can't imagine using our system without it now that we have fully customized
our system. My wife even agrees that this is the best handheld remote/system controller
to date to have landed in our theater room. It's easy to operate and completely
gets rid of the remote clutter we all face with the large number of components
installed in today's systems.