Whole-home automation and control company, Control4, has just added a new option for its customers who want a customizable way to operate their gadgets. The $600 Neeo is an ultra-thin aluminum-body hybrid remote created by Neeo Remote Control, the Swiss company Control4 acquired early in 2019. With a small cluster of physical buttons within easy reach of your thumbs and a high-res 3-inch color LCD touchscreen, the Neeo remote provides both customization and convenience to Control4 systems running its OS 3 software.
If the Neeo looks familiar, that’s because the company sold a very similar version to Kickstarter backers in 2018 for $369. When we reviewed it at the time, we were impressed by its sleek and elegant design, but considerably less enthusiastic about its actual functionality. It failed to provide a better overall experience than a Harmony Elite and many of its coolest features like handprint recognition and a lost remote finder failed to materialize despite being promised to backers. Some of its customizations like one-touch access to favorite channels proved difficult to set up.
Given that the Control4 version sells for almost double, you would expect that these kinks have now been worked out. That’s what Control4 promises. Though the company kept the Neeo’s design, materials, and internal hardware, the software is all-new. The Neeo runs Control4’s OS 3 — the same code that runs on Control4’s other systems — which should (in theory) mean that it’s every bit as dependable and responsive as those devices.
Neeo’s one-touch favorites are room-specific. They can be chosen using a Control4 touchscreen or the Control4 app. Virtually any activity can have a favorite, and you can get as granular as a specific show on Netflix if you so desire.
Unfortunately, despite the Neeo now being as easy-to-use as it is beautiful, it still lacks features we’ve come to expect from the latest remote controls. The physical buttons aren’t backlit, which will likely make them harder to use in a darkened room. There’s also no voice functionality — an especially surprising absence given that Control4 has been a vanguard in its integration with voice assistants like Amazon’s Alexa and Google Assistant.
When Digital Trends asked Control4 about voice control, we were told that “There are a number of challenges in delivering a voice-controlled remote that has broad support for entertainment services and smart home control, and we look forward to that technology maturing over the next few years.”
Despite these drawbacks, the Neeo represents a significant improvement in simplicity over Control4’s SR-260 Remote — a button-festooned device that the company still sells for $330. With its touchscreen interface, the Neeo can be continually updated to reflect a homeowner’s current set of smart home devices whether it’s a thermostat or a Wi-Fi-equipped fridge. That’s a big advantage for Control4’s army of custom installers who must help customers deal with the nearly 14,000 smart home devices the system can control.
Now available in both black and silver only from authorized Control4 dealers, the Neeo comes with its own charging base that doubles as a stand for when the remote isn’t being used. Its internal batteries should last up to five days on a charge according to Control4.
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