By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
When it comes to remote control, vendors are presenting a diverse array of new, and unusual, features. The following reviews a sampling of the newest devices, many of which were unveiled at 2001 International CES in Las Vegas earlier this month.
For Universal Re-mote Control Inc., CES set the scene for the company's unveiling of its Home Theater Master, MX-500, learning re-mote control. Designed and engineered to simplify the home entertainment experience, the Home Theater Master allows users to customize the LCD text of a remote control, the company said
The remote is programmed for more than 1,000 audio and video components - including personal video recorders, DVD, VCR, cable and satellite receivers and audio equipment - and is capable of learning 500 functions from original remote controls via infrared, the company said. It can operate a total of 10 audio and video components, and users can create individual button names on 23 LCD screens.
The Home Theater Master contains three types of macro operations, enabling users to assign multiple commands to particular macro buttons. It can be programmed to "punch through" operations to any of the 10 audio/video components for volume, channel selection and transport control. The LCD screen and all of the buttons provide bright, yet energy-efficient illumination.
The MX-500 is set for first-quarter availability from Harrison, N.Y.-based Universal Remote Control at a suggested $189 retail.
The newest version of the Weemote children's TV remote control - called Weemote2 and co-designed by Miami maker Fobis Technologies, with an assist from Littleton, Colo.-based US Electronics - was also unveiled at CES earlier this month.
The Weemote enables parents to program specific channels on a brightly colored remote-control device that is easy and fun for children to use. New features are said to make the Weemote2 compatible with more entertainment systems, and make the device appropriate for a wider age range of children.
The new Weemote2 features include compatibility with TV/VCR combination units, personal video recorders such as TiVo, Replay and EchoStar Dishplayer and more set-top boxes, as well as 10 preprogrammed channels and an option to allow the Weemote2, when the television is turned on, to go directly to the first favorite channel programmed in the unit.
The device also en-ables parents to set a consistent volume level for younger children and lets users turn off the channel up/down option, making channel selection easier for leaning-disabled children.
Suggested retail is $34.95, and availability is set for early March.
One For All introduced "the world's first" Universal TV Remote Control Alarm Clock Radio at CES. Along with offering bedside control for the television, the Toronto-based company said, the device features the option of awakening to television, radio or alarm clock.
The Universal TV Remote Control Alarm Clock Radio provides the convenience of always knowing where the remote is and is equipped with an automatic sleep timer that also allows users to fall asleep to television or the radio. One For All said the unit operates all brands of televisions and provides AM/FM radio, TV sleep timer, mute key, snooze button, glow-in-the-dark keys and battery backup.
Model ACR 1000 at a suggested $29.99 retail, offers a 0.6-inch red LED display and an alarm setting. Model ACR 2000, at a suggested $34.99 retail, offers a 0.9-inch green LED display, dual alarm setting and built-in headphone jack. Both clocks are scheduled to be on retail shelves by mid-to-late March.
While One For All introduced at the show 10 new universal remote control products and two new colors - titanium and platinum - the company expanded into three new home entertainment accessories categories.
These new products include five indoor antennas, with suggested retail prices ranging from $6.99 to $39.99; four signal amplifiers at $29.99 to $49.99; and four A/V selectors, $9.99 to $89.99.
The One For all antennas will be available by early March (except for #8005, which will not be available until early June). The amplifiers are also scheduled to be available by early March, with all A/V selectors due by early April.
In news from Thomson Multimedia, Deptford, N.J., a series of new, RCA-brand universal remote controls includes Thomson's first learning remote, the RCA RCU810, which is targeted toward consumers who have assembled a variety of home theater equipment.
The remote includes macro keys, which can be programmed to execute a series of keystrokes under one button. The user can "teach" the remote to turn on several home theater components with the touch of a button. It can control up to eight devices, including television, VCR, satellite receiver, cable box, audio receiver, DVD player and CD player. It is available at a suggested $69.95 retail.
RCA's Platinum Series, designed to bring high style to remote users, features two units in a high-impact platinum color and a metallic finish.
The RCU800MS Universal Platinum Series Home Theater remote operates eight devices: television, two VCRs, cable box, satellite, audio receiver, DVD player and CD player. Suggested retail is $49.99. The RCU410MS Universal Platinum remote operates four devices: television, VCR, cable box and satellite or an audio component. Suggested retail is $39.99.
Making a bold statement, the RCA RCU510 Rugged remote is designed for wear and tear, Thomson said. It features an easy-to-clean membrane keypad, a rubber gasket that seals out dirt and moisture, and a hanging loop for easy storage. It controls six devices: television, VCR, cable box, satellite, DVD and audio receiver. Suggested retail is $29.95.
A series of translucent-colored RCA remotes, designed for teens looking for products with a twist, includes the RCU300. Available in blue, green and purple, it controls three devices: television, VCR and cable box. Suggested retail is $14.95.
Until Jan. 31, consumers who purchased any RCA remote since Nov. 23, 2000 can obtain a National Football League glass mug customized with the logo of the consumer's favorite NFL team. The mug is free with $4.95 shipping and handling cost.
Proton, Cerritos, Calif., is introducing its SRC-2000 Touchscreen Smart Remote Control and optional docking station. The SRC-2000 can operate up to 10 devices, including TV, VCR, AMP, DVD, SAT, VCD, CD, tuner, LD, AUX 1 and/or AUX 2.
The Proton SRC-2000 offers up to 12 fully configurable macro functions, each capable of holding up to 25 individual commands. The unit's timer options make it possible to send commands, in sequence, automatically at the time and date the viewer sets.
The optional SDS-2000 Docking Station adds even more to the product's function. Not only does it make it impossible to misplace the remote when it is in the docking station, the company said, it also makes sure the batteries are always charged.
The remote has a suggested $170 retail, with the docking station at a suggested $90.
This TWICE webinar, hosted by senior editor Alan Wolf, will take a look at what may be the hottest CE products at retail that will be sold during the all-important fourth quarter. Top technologies, market strategies and industry trends will be discussed with industry analysts and executives.