Product Review (April 2006)
RTI Remote Technologies Inc.
T3 Remote Control and Accessories

By Kevin Nakano


Virtually 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.

T3 Controller
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.

Removing 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™ Designer software.

Software
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 (v4.0.0.798) for our tests. The application includes the Infrared Library Manager (v2.1.0.184) 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.

When 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.

IR PRO
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.

RP-6 RC Processor
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 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 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.

RM-433 RF Receiver
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.

Conclusion
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.

The 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.

- Kevin Nakano





OPPO BDP-103 Blu-ray Player




Review System

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
Set-top Box: Samsung SIR-T165 Terrestrial HDTV Receiver with DVI
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 #1: JVC HM-DH30000U D-VHS High-Definition D-Theater VCR
D-VHS VCR #2: Marantz MV8300 D-VHS High-Definition D-Theater VCR
A/V Cables: Ultralink Platinum and Advanced Performance Series Cables
DVI Cable: Monster Cable M Series M500DVI DVI-D Cable
DVI Extender: Gefen HDTV Extender
HDMI Cables: Accel Corporation HDMI Adapter and Cables
Power Conditioning: Panamax MAX® 5510 ACRegenerator
Video Generator: Sencore VP403 SDTV/HDTV Video Pattern Generator
Color Analyzer #1: Sencore CP5000 ISF Certified All-Display Color Analyzer
Color Analyzer #2: ColorFacts with GretagMacbeth Eye-One Pro Colorphotometer


Review - At a Glance

 

RTI - T3 Universal Controller

Features

  • Ergonomic design permits effortless, one-handed operation
  • Full color TFT LCD to display custom buttons, text, graphics, and animations
  • Integrated high-resolution touchscreen
  • Powerful 32-bit, 200MHz XScale® processor
  • 32MByte of Flash Memory
  • Tilt switch can automatically turn on the backlight when picked up
  • Extremely bright, backlit display and keypad
  • Includes easy-to-use Windows based software for programming and customization
  • Sixteen assignable/programmable keypad buttons
  • 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.
  • Includes a Lithium-Polymer Battery and a docking station
  • Completely customizable, programmable and upgradeable
  • 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
  • Field upgradeable firmware (thru the TheaterTouch Designer Software)
  • USB Programming

  • Specifications
    Power3.6 VDC, 1050 mA Lithium-Polymer Battery Pack
    Power ManagementAutomatic On/Off (tilt switch)
    Infrared Control Range30 feet (9.1 meters) @ 60 degrees
    Infrared Frequency Transmission Range15kHz - 460kHz
    Radio Frequency Control RangeUp to 100 feet (30.5 meters)
    (with optional System Interfaces/Processors)
    Radio Frequency Carrier433 MHz
    Operating Temperature+32°F to +122°F (0°C to +50°C)
    Operating Humidity5% to 95% Non-condensing
    Touchscreen DisplayHigh-brightness color TFT LCD
    1/4 VGA (240x320 pixels) with 65K colors
    Integrated high-resolution touchscreen
    Display Size (H x W)3.5 in (89mm) diagonal
    BacklightsWhite LED (Display), Blue/Amber LED (Keypad)
    Nominal Run Time on Full Charge2.5 hours minimum, continuous use
    (5 to 7 days on average use)
    Standby Time on Full Charge30 Days
    Battery Charge Time3-4 Hours
    Total System Memory32M Bytes Flash (non-volatile) memory
    Device CapabilityTotal number of devices is limited only by memory
    Macro CapabilityUp to 64 steps in a single macro
    Total number of macros is limited only by memory
    Macro capability on every button
    CommunicationsUSB programming port
    Dimensions (L x W x D)7.6 in (193mm) x 3.1 in (79mm) x 1.1 in (28mm)
    EnclosureHigh-impact molded ABS plastic
    Weight7.4 oz. (210g) with battery pack
    WarrantyOne Year (Parts & Labor)
    90 days on the battery
    MSRP$1199

    T3 Operation Guide (PDF, 1.3M)

    T3 Cutsheet (PDF, 497k)


    RTI - RP-6 Remote Control Processor

    Features

    • Six multi-purpose I/O ports
    • Three programmable relay outputs
    • IR input for IR pass-through or control
    • Input for connection of multiple RF Receiver modules
    • RS-485 communications jack for future expansion
    • I/O ports are compatible with industry standard IR emitters and repeater systems
    • All output ports incorporate both short-circuit and overload protection
    • Variable IR output power on all ports
    • I/O ports support optional RTI Power Sensing and Communication modules
    • Programmed using the TheaterTouch™ Designer software
    • Non-volatile Flash memory stores your system configuration
    • Field upgradeable firmware (thru the TheaterTouch Designer Software)
    • USB programming

    Specifications
    Power Supply+12V DC, 500 mA
    Number of Output PortsSix
    Output PortsCustom 3.5mm 4-conductor jacks are designed for RTI modules as well as industry-standard IR emitters.
    IR Output Drive100mA maximum (per port, adjustable)
    200mA maximum (high IR output port)
    Infrared Frequency Transmission Range15kHz - 460kHz
    Infrared InputCompatible with industry-standard repeaters and receiving systems
    Relays3 Amps @ 30 VDC
    MountingWall-mount or free standing
    Dimensions (W x H x D)9.3" (236mm) x 5.3" (135mm) x 1.5" (38mm)
    Weight1 lb. 3 oz. (543g)
    WarrantyOne Year (Parts & Labor)
    MSRP$379

    RP-6 Operation & Installation Guide (PDF, 138k)

    RP6 Brochure (PDF, 584k)


    RTI - RM-433 RF Receiver

    Features

    • Reliable RF reception due to matched antenna, connector, and PCB.
    • Modular design that allows multiple RM-433 units to be wired together.
    • Output signal is compatible with industry standard infrared repeating systems.
    • No dedicated power supply required.
    • A feedback LED confirms operation.
    • Available only to professional system integrators.

      Specifications
      Power Requirements+9VDC to +16VDC @ 60mA
      RF Carrier Frequency433.92 MhZ
      Output Drive200mA maximum
      Operating Temperature+32°F to +122°F
      (0°C to +50°C)
      Operating Humidity5% to 95% non-condensing
      Module Dimensions3.5" x 3.4" x 1.0"
      (89mm x 86mm x 25mm)
      Antenna Length13 in" (330mm)
      Weight4.4 oz. (125 grams)

      RM-433 Operation & Installation Guide (PDF, 208k)


    Company Information
    RTI Corporate Headquarters
    7651 Anagram Drive
    Eden Prairie, MN 55344
    Phone: 952-253-3100
    Fax: 952-253-3131

    URL: www.rticorp.com




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