Sevenhugs Smart Remote
We were asked by a listener to take a look at the Sevenhugs Smart Remote ($199 without contextual awareness and $299 with) a few weeks back. The makers of the remote call it “The world’s smartest and easiest to use remote control. Stop wrestling with remotes and apps and simplify how you control your entire home.” That’s quite a statement in a world that has plenty of smart remotes. The question is whether that is a true statement or not. There is a video that goes along with this review that will provide much more context on our youtube channel (The HT Guys)
We read a news story about a remote that could tell what you were pointing at and display the proper controls for that device without user intervention a long time ago. We almost forgot about the product as it was just a concept at the time but were happy to learn that the remote is indeed available. That excitement waned a bit when we discovered how the remote determines what it is being pointed at.
In order to do the context switching the remote requires you to place discs on the wall that all have line of site with each other as well as the charging base. If these discs were small it would probably be OK however they are about the size of a motion sensor which makes it hard to fit in with your room decor. If you have already placed a motion sensor in your room you know that it is a compromise between functionality and decor. Adding three more “Motion Sensors” might be a hard sell for many.
But once you get over that hurdle the concept seems good. But is it better is it than a Harmony Remote that allows me to assign dedicated buttons for lights or switches? In a word no.
As far as remotes go it's not bad. You add devices and create scenes. You can add automation devices like hue lights and the Nest thermostat (no support for ecobee) and many others as well. See video for details on setting up remote. They advertise that the remote is compatible with 650,000 devices and services. One thing we noticed was that there is no way to connect to devices via your network. There is no mention of this capability on the SevenHugs website either. IR is the only method discussed. This caused issues that required a lot of syncing of missed commands
As far as use goes, if you want to watch TV you hit that Scene and let the remote turn on devices and adjust lights. As you wish. Personal Note, we don’t include lighting commands in the activities to watch TV or movies. We tried this before but if you watch something during the day and there are no lights on the activity will still dim the lights. Instead we create separate activities or macros in our automation system that we invoke only if the lights are on. In general, we come to the conclusion that we let the remote deal with entertainment activities and we let our automation deal with automation activities. It is not hard to switch between apps on our phones and tablets. In fact most of the automation activities are done automatically based on time triggers or requested on demand via voice to our home assistants.
This was a great idea when we first heard about it however the implementation makes it a tough sell for those with open concept rooms or those with spouses who already have issues with our ever expanding gear we require for our love of home theater. At $300 our advice is buy a Harmony remote and a couple hubs!