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Acoustic Research Xsight Touch Review
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9/29/17 - All cloud-based operations to end within four years.
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Reinventing the wheel... current status: square.
As with other popular activity-based remotes, the Xsight’s programming wizards try hard to be simple, but in doing so discard any semblance of efficiency.

First, the remote must always be connected to your computer when you log into the RC-EZ website – even if all you want to do is tweak a few buttons on the site’s archived copy of your configuration. Second, the site is generally slow to perform actions, even during off-hours – expect 3 to 8 second pauses between page loads, and longer while doing more involved tasks such as saving devices, searching through model numbers or assembling macros.

Third, with a strict structure and very methodical steps, you’ll find yourself performing the same operations over and over again, when it would have been more efficient to group similar items together into a batch process. At worst these kinds of wizards should be foolproof, meaning that while slow they should guarantee the correct results with a minimum of fuss. Unfortunately the Xsight’s wizards tend to be separate and disjointed. Activities and favorite channel user profiles are not automatically created as part of the initial setup wizard, and users will find themselves performing tasks on-remote that could very well have been completed quicker and more intuitively with a computer.

Fourth, the wizard can sometimes be quirky – for example if it determines that a model number has several possible code matches, selecting the model and pressing “Next” immediately brings up a giant warning message asking if you’re sure you want to overwrite the remote’s configuration, without any other information. Wait, what? Why is it doing that? Later, while uploading results from a learning session, similar unexpected warning messages express caution about overwriting the configuration on the website, when the wizard should already know that this is the default and expected behavior. Even the interface’s “Yes” and “No” buttons keep swapping which side they’re on.

Finally a general caution: remember that if a manufacturer of a remote that relies on Internet programming stops servicing the product, either by choice or otherwise, that remote will not be configurable. If you feel that something like that can’t happen, just ask former owners of Evolve Communications or tvCompass remotes. Fortunately the Xsight does have a basic level of programming that can be performed standalone to mitigate the risk.

Marketing Gone Wild
At this time I’m going to ask you to return to the first page of the review, where I list a number of sentences that Acoustic Research used to describe the Xsight series at the bottom. I’ll wait here.

Back? Good. Now you’ll be able to better understand why after writing this review, the overwhelming emotion that I feel is… disappointment. Does that mean that the Xsight is a bad remote control? No, it’s just not the eighth wonder of the world as implied. Acoustic Research have done themselves a disservice by promising that the Xsight will deliver far more than it could ever be capable of.

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