RTI TheaterTouch £1185

21st Apr 2005 | 23:00

One remote to rule them all

TechRadar rating:

4 stars

A very effective universal remote system at a - comparatively - low price

Like:

<p>Flexibility</p><p>Powerful customisation software</p><p>Good value compared to most rival systems</p>

Dislike:

<p>Complicated software</p>

As a collection of home cinema equipment grows, keeping control of it using the stock remotes can become a headache. Your equipment might include a DVD player, a DAB radio, plasma screen, processor and amplifier, and keeping track of so many handsets isn't easy.

The standard solution is to invest in a universal remote control system, giving you a single handset that can control every product in your collection. Companies like Crestron have been making these for years, and very effective they are too - but cheap they ain't. In addition to shelling out thousands of pounds for the gear itself, you'll probably have to pay a custom installer to set it up for you.

Affordable alternatives are available, but these lack the customisability and flexibility of a true universal system. Right in the middle is this new multi-product package from RTI; its makers claim that it offers the versatility of the top class control systems, while costing a lot less.

The TheaterTouch system consists of several 'core' items, to which you can add a range of optional extras. Obviously there's the handset, which is called the T2 and features an LCD touch-screen, large backlit buttons and a rechargeable lithium polymer battery. The second essential item is the RP- 6 remote control processor, a compact box that forms the hub of the system. Using a connected RF receiver, this takes the signal from the T2 and reroutes it via tiny, wired infrared emitters to the bits of kit you want to control. In total, you can control up to six products for each RP 6 installed.

Because the RP-6 is connected to a radio frequency receiver and doesn't use infrared, you don't need 'line of sight' to control items using the T2 ; you could install your RP-6 inside a closed cupboard and it would still work perfectly. In fact, the T2 and RP-6 can theoretically communicate up to a distance of about 200 feet, so you could wander around your home controlling stuff if it took your fancy, or if you had different items installed in different rooms.

The system itself works perfectly once you've set it up properly, and the T2 is a joy to use; the touchscreen makes a world of difference and gives you an almost unlimited number of options. The one problem is that it has to be programmed using the TheaterTouch Designer software and, although Comm-Tec (RTI's UK distributors) recommend that you employ a professional to do this, they will supply you with the software if you wish.

While a very useful program that offers the user a great deal of scope for customisation, TheaterTouch Designer is certainly not for the faint of heart, being extremely complex and time-consuming. With that said, we managed to use it well enough after perusing a few help files, so unless you've got no experience with PCs whatsoever, there's every chance you could get to grips with it after a while, and once you've set up your remote, you don't need to use the software again unless you're adding new items to your setup.

Overall, this is a high class system at a very competitive price. Unless you know your way around a computer and have a measure of patience, though, the price may be inflated by your having to pay a third party to do the installing for you.

Upgrades TV Home cinema Hi-Fi/audio
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