After a long wait, I finally got my hands on a NEEO remote. Having spent a few days "kicking the tires", I thought I would put together a review in case you're trying to decide if this is the right remote for you.
he clean design and vivid touchscreen give the NEEO a modern, distinguished look not common to handheld remotes. Combine that with a sturdy, yet lightweight, handfeel, and you have a remote that is an absolute joy to use. The app-based setup is a breeze. Control of IR devices is snappy, even when issuing multiple commands in rapid succession, and the IR coverage from the "brain's" built-in blaster is very impressive.
At $369 for the remote and brain, the NEEO has raised the bar significantly for this category. As a former professional integrator, I can say that a remote of this quality could have easily set you back $1,000 or more not long ago (and that may or may not have included paying a programmer to set it up for you). If you are in the market for a DIY programmable remote, the NEEO undoubtedly deserves a spot on your short list.
As far as cons, I have found very few, and none that give me any pause about the remote's overall quality. Before itemizing them, it is important to note that, at the time of this writing, I am using a beta version of the software (v0.46.5). Of the areas I would like to see improvement, the most notable is a very slight lag on the touchscreen when swiping sideways to go from one page to another.
I have also found some inconsistencies in the implementation of the DirecTV IR commands I am using. For instance, the "List" command is called "Recordings" on the touchscreen remote, but is a folder with the "Play" symbol on the app. The "Exit" command does not exist either as a hard button, or as a command on the default app and touchscreen pages for DirecTV. Instead, you have to use "Back" which often results in multiple button presses to clear menus off the screen versus a true "Exit" command, which would do it in one press. As a workaround for this, you can set up "Exit" as a shortcut, but more on that later.
Lastly, when using DirecTV, the "Menu" hard button actually performs the "Guide" function. Incidentally, I actually prefer it this way and hope they don't change it as I like having hard button access to the guide. Perhaps, in time, NEEO will allow the user to do custom mapping of hard button commands, but for now I do not see this ability anywhere. In any event, these are nothing more than minor housekeeping issues in the UI and I suspect will be cleaned up in short order.
*A Small Disclaimer*
At the time of this writing, I have only tested the remote on a very simple entertainment center, controlling a handful of IR devices. I have not had a chance to test the advanced features the remote offers such as Z-Wave integration and network control. We are hoping to post more information on these features soon. In the meantime, you can subscribe to our show on iTunes for more updates as they become available.
For those who appreciate such things, NEEO very clearly cut no corners when it comes to presentation. The packaging is impressive, creating a great first impression. Won't belabor this, it's just packaging after all. But kudos are definitely in order. Check out the short unboxing video at the end of this post if you want to see more.
Setting up the brain
A few screen shots from the NEEO Brain setup process. Simply install the app, plug the brain into the ethernet, and power it up. The Brain and the app pair easily. You then connect the Brain to your WiFi and create a NEEO account using the app. Once complete, you can remove the ethernet if you so choose and use the Brain on WiFi so you have more flexibility in its placement.
Pairing the Remote
Pairing the NEEO remote with the base is a very simple process. Power up the remote and follow the prompts on the screen.
Adding devices is a snap. I have an old Panasonic plasma and was impressed to see the model number in the database. I know from conversations with the team that they put a lot of work into building a robust IR code base, and it shows. Once you select your model, the app prompts you place the Brain in an optimal position, then provides you with a page to test the codes. Every device I setup worked on the first attempt.
Recipes are what NEEO calls macros (multiple commands that execute off a single button press). Here are a few screenshots from the recipe creation process. The app walks you through assigning inputs and volume control functions for each source. It also gives you the ability to easily make adjustments such as re-ordering the steps in your recipe, or editing the pause time between steps (important for input switching on power-up). Having a lot of experience programming remotes in the past, I was particularly impressed by how easy the NEEO app made this process.
Adding channel favorites is done through the app. It is a straightforward process. It is worth noting that, while channel icons are pulled automatically, the NEEO remote does not pull channel numbers from a database based on your location and service provider. Instead, you are asked to manually enter the channel.
Shortcuts provide an easy way to access functions for other devices, or functions not listed on the default UI pages. In my case, I used them to place a few DirecTV functions that were not otherwise offered on the UI ("Exit" for example, as mentioned above). In time, I have to wonder if NEEO will allow for editing of the default UI pages. But for now, shortcuts provided me with an easy and useful workaround. As my setup grows, I suspect I will use shortcuts even more to quickly access commands for other systems like lighting and HVAC.
The NEEO remote is a welcome entrant into the DIY handheld remote category. With sleek design, easy setup, reliable control, and a very reasonable price tag, it will be a welcome addition to any media room. If you are in the market for a new remote, the NEEO warrants serious consideration.
Although I have not had a chance to test its fancier home automation features, I suspect they will be implemented with the same attention to detail I've seen from the remote thus far. Be sure to stay tuned to the HomeTech Podcast as we plan to dive into the more advanced features in the future. If you have any questions, don't hesitate to reach out via our feedback page.
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