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Acoustic Research Xsight Touch Review
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Overall the Xsight feels sturdy and offers good resistance to lateral twisting. The rounded sides and smooth back are comfortable, and there are no sharp corners or other places to irritate the hand. The color screen is certainly bright enough for almost any indoor lighting situation, although contrast levels are low and the viewing angles could definitely be improved – tilt a little to the right and it fades to black, tilt to the left and it fades to white, or tilt down and it inverts.

Speaking of tilting, the Xsight’s motion pickup sensor works particularly well, activating the LCD screen simply by lifting the remote or giving it a mild jiggle. The capacitive touchscreen technology used by the Xsight allowed its designers to forgo the traditional raised screen bezel and also to implement that fancy page “slider bar”, however there are some downsides to the implementation. It will only register the fleshy part of your finger and doesn’t sense fingernails or other hard objects, and occasionally my sample remote didn’t sense pushes to the exact center of full-width buttons. As for the page slider bar, while it’s undeniably nifty it requires a sliding motion to function and simply tapping on either end won’t change pages.

How stylish works.
The Xsight proved a decent performer, with screens displaying quickly if perhaps not instantly. Hard buttons as well as the LCD screen respond well to touches, and no key lag is perceptible. Repeat button performance (how fast keys can be repeatedly pressed while transmitting separate complete signals) tested to somewhere between average and better than average for a computer programmable remote control; although that’s still about 40% slower than a “no-frills” remote. Despite featuring two widely spaced IR emitters, the Xsight only managed to eek out a score of 3.5 on our ought-to-be industry standard Menacing Thick Flannel Cloth (MTFC). Prior to this the average remote’s score was 7.0, with the strongest model garnering 11.0.

By and large the Xsight Touch’s hardware works well, but the process of using the remote isn’t nearly as refined. Following the setup plan outlined in the handy printed manual, let’s say a user wants to view a list of favorite channels, and the default “Hello” activity isn’t the correct one for use with those particular favorite channels.

  1. Press [Activities]
  2. Press [Hello]
  3. Press [Activities]
  4. Press [Watch TV]
  5. Press [Favorites]

Everything’s fine at this point – more button pushes than we might like, yet straightforward. But wait, you want to change the TV’s picture mode. Since there are no secondary functions available while in Favorites, you’ll need to go back to the activity. However as it turns out, there’s no way to get from Favorites back to the previously used activity without re-launching that activity all over again – and if your macros weren’t constructed entirely with discrete codes, this is exactly where your system is going to become out of sync.

The solution to preventing potential system chaos is to instead go to the “Television” device, not the “Watch TV” activity, which as we discussed earlier are functionally identical except that the device has a different name and no automatic switching macro. But should this kind of workaround really need to be made on “the world’s easiest universal remote”? Strangely the remote remembers which device you were last in, but not the last activity – even stranger as remembering the last device doesn’t do anything! Activities could also use a clearer indication that something is happening as they launch – the default macro delays tend to be a little slow, resulting in activities that can take 5 to 10 seconds to initialize. While launching, the only indication that anything is happening is a tiny transmit icon at the top of the screen that occasionally flashes between red and blue.

And finally, something must be said about the Xsight’s four system buttons: [Home], [Favorites], [Activities] and [Devices]. Much of the time, pressing the [Home] button shows an on-screen menu with (you guessed it) [Favorites], [Activities] and [Devices]. Instead of offering both 1 and 2-step methods for the same task, why not have the recommended “Hello” and “Good Night” activities on the Home screen?

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