Caavo Control Center review: the best universal remote

I have now received the highest rating to offer technical products. I bought the Caavo Control Center universal remote because I liked it so much for my parents. There are actually two.

The Control Center can seamlessly switch between streaming content and TV by bundling together a variety of media devices, including an average TV receiver, cable box, streaming box, and Blu-ray player. Voice command. Very good remote control.

The control center is not perfect in any way. I've tested myself with a preview build of the next update that has smart TV control since December, and I have a clear place for improvements and feature additions. I also think the price model is a bit confusing. But it's also the first remote to try to set a new foundation on how everything connected to the TV works. If you juggle between a cable box and a connected streaming device, you do not have to think too much.

Good Devices

  • Controls multiple devices seamlessly.
  • Voice control works smoothly.
  • Search between good services that operate on multiple devices

Incorrect entries [19659007] The annual cost should be tied to prices
  • No Dolby Vision support
  • Future smart TV control is the default
  • Let's start with the price that needs to be somewhat confusing and simplified. The Control Center itself sells for $ 99, but it drops to $ 69 for places like Best Buy. However, as soon as you connect, you'll be prompted to enroll in the $ 19.99 / yr service plan with guided data and search functionality. With the Search feature, you can automatically open the appropriate app on the right device and start streaming content. (The control center works just like a general purpose remote without paying a fee, but you can find it here because it is a search function only.) You can even subscribe for a lifetime if you are not feeling any better. Pay $ 50 and avoid recurring fees. So just think of it as a $ 150 remote that is selling for $ 120. It's the way Caavo must sell first. James Bareham / The Verge

    There is a picture. It consists of two parts of the Control Center and can be a little puzzle. (I had to set it up for my parents.) There is a remote control itself, and there is a Control Center box. Black 4-port 4K HDR HDMI switch with a white LED and silver button for remote beeping if lost on the sofa. The individual Control Center settings differ depending on whether you have a soundbar or a receiver in the mix, but the basics are always the same: Plug all your devices into the Control Center, then plug the Control Center into your TV.

    The reason to connect everything to the control center is that Caavo's secret source is system vision. You can view the user interface of various devices and manipulate them directly on your behalf. So when you ask YouTube to play Verge's iPhone reviews, Caavo will switch to Apple TV, open the YouTube app, select the Search menu, enter the correct YouTube ID, and open the video.

    All of this happens under the gray overlay screen in the background. It takes a little more time for someone who is familiar with technology, but it is a huge improvement for people who can not understand it. Differences between various devices, apps, and interface metrics. YouTube video plays a YouTube video in seconds after requesting it. If you request to "switch to ABC", after a few seconds the cable box will appear on the screen and will be adjusted to the channel with ABC. When you press the button holding the PS4 controller, the PS4 appears on the screen. Holding the device's original remote control and clicking on it will switch to the correct mode when the Control Center remote control is turned back on. This is a big leap over IR remote controls like the Harmony series. It is relatively natural.

    The Control Center is the first remote device to control multiple devices in a number of ways. With the latest TV and sound bar, you can control with HDMI-CEC. If you have an Apple TV or Roku, you can control it over the network by connecting through WiFi. If you have an older cable box, it will send an IR command because it is a zombie technology waiting for you until the IR is dead.

    (Caavo has two IR blaster pods in the box, but it may not be necessary.) Fire the IR from the main box. Strangely, the remote itself does not send IR commands.


      caavo grid

    Picture of Amelia Holowaty Krales / The Verge

    Control everything with the D button and the remote with a limited set of generic buttons. Power, Play / Pause, Home, Menu, Back and Volume / Mute. The volume button is awkward at the top of the D pad. If you have a grid button and you need to enter a channel number to operate the cable box, you will see a number pad on the screen and an up and down arrow will appear that maps up and down. (If you are like me, you can use the channel buttons to flip the grid guides on the cable box and see the up and down arrows reversing.)

    There is a button to switch input confusingly to the share icon. Large silver Caavo button that brings the main Caavo interface overlay. Of course, there is a microphone button for voice commands.


      Caavo remote buttons UI

    Photo by Amelia Holowaty Krales / The Verge

    Much of it is not enough to make most devices work perfectly, but many of them are mapped to the second long press feature. Caavo uses a neat trick here, though it is usually a usability nightmare. The remote is touch-sensitive, so when you touch the button, a small label appears on the corner of the TV, showing you what to do, and a long press release. This is excellent. It is a small task to narrow down the strange symbolic collection of distant distances to distant distances.

    I would like the remote to be a mat instead of dirty, dirty polished plastic. The buttons will be slightly better, especially if the buttons are programmable. My parents initially missed the Sony TV remote with a big NETFLIX button. But really, you want to use the voice.


      caavo remote

    James Bareham / Pictures of The Verge

    Caavo's voice commands are not perfect, but they are easy and attractive enough. Use them for most things. The main point is that you need to use fairly specific phrases to make things happen. Therefore, "Switch to NBC" is effective, but "Turn on NBC" can bring up a random search results page. As with most voicemail assistants, it is not good to have accents. Searching for Bollywood movies is often on the verge of a dead end. But in most cases it works and it works fine if you understand the drawbacks.

    Caavo is also integrated with Alexa and the Google Assistant, but it's pretty dangerous or inaccurate. I could not do Alexa integration at all, and the Google Assistant integration was so messed up that I stopped trying after a while. (When it succeeded, it was complicated: "Google, hey, tell them to change to HBO.")

    These are all trivial clues. Overall, the control center does a great job. Failure to manage multiple TV devices tends to stand out.

    There are two tasks that can not be done in the Control Center, which currently can not deliver Dolby vision signals and have an extremely limited ability to control Smart TV.

    The Control Center handles standard HDRs well, but Dolby Vision does not. Caavo promised a software update for Dolby Vision when he released the Control Center, but the autumn release date has already passed and the company did not have a timetable when I asked. (You can actually test Dolby Vision because you reopened this review, but it will not be released soon.) If Dolby Vision is important, you will not actually wait until support is available.

    Same Smart TV control. I have been testing the initial build of the Caavo software, which provides the ability to control Android-based smart TVs like the Sony A8F. The control happens through the network, and the installation is very complicated because Android TV runs Android. (After many successful attempts at one time, the Caavo team delivered Sony's notes, suggesting changing the "Simple IP control" setting to "on," but that's not the case.)

    After the effort, it worked even though the function was less than other devices. The machine vision system in the Control Center can not actually see the smart TV interface because it can not see what is on the TV screen. The same way you can run Apple TV or Roku on your behalf. Like other universal remote controls, you can use the D pad to navigate the Smart TV app, or click the Caavo button on the remote control to switch back to the Caavo input. And the Control Center deep links to the Smart TV app, which appears to be on the card, but can not automatically play the content.


      caavo and remote

    Photographs by James Bareham / The Verge

    If you use a lot of smart TV apps, say you will not buy a control center. Ashish Agaarwal CTO frankly spoke of the fact that smart TV software and control APIs are inherently a disaster throughout the industry. This is not really Caavo's fault, but Smart TV is improving enough to make a stand-alone purchase box unnecessary and the company will have to find better integration to stay relevant over time. (If the smart TV manufacturer is still running pervasive data tracking software, it's a good idea to turn off the TV completely on Wi-Fi and keep all stand-alone boxes.)

    Caavo Control Center successfully re- I saw. It's a bit quirky, but it's smoother and more appealing than all the devices connected to a TV remotely on a table, and it works better than any other universal remote I've tried. And the important thing is that my parents like it.

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