Your Universal Remote Control Center
Acoustic Research Xsight Touch Review
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For when you know what you’re doing...
As the basic activity wizard tends to over-simplify a potentially complex situation, the manual only recommends its use with simple activities such as the suggested system power on and off events. For everything else there’s an advanced option that offers a greater level of control, but also less automation.

Instead of the advanced wizard automatically assembling your activity’s macro sequence based upon your answers to various questions, macros are built manually. Sequences can be created using all available database commands from every device in the system, although the use of commands not already assigned to an in-device key will result in the wizard adding them to that device. Delays are automatically placed between each step, and can be customized up to 10 seconds in length in 0.1 second increments. Conveniently, it’s possible to adjust all delays used in a particular macro with a single operation. Commands can be easily repositioned in macros after they are added.

When the macro sequence is complete the wizard continues with the hard button punchthrough screen. The options here are broken down into a much finer level of detail than offered using the basic activity wizard, although few will actually need such granularity.

Could setup be too simple?
If you’re someone who’s familiar with how activity-based remote controls usually work, reading this description of how the Xsight’s activities are programmed may lead you to believe that much of the process has been glossed over. You’d be wrong.

If you were looking for on-remote power state tracking for devices without discrete power commands – there is none. If you were hoping for a series of advanced workarounds for dealing with televisions or receivers lacking discrete input codes – there are none available or suggested. If you were expecting detailed model-specific information such as accurate lists of inputs or needed delay timings – they simply aren’t there.

So why would you need those things anyways?
The purpose of an activity-based remote control is to facilitate one-touch access to your favorite activities. Unfortunately there are no standards for how home electronics should operate, so remote control manufactures must deal with a lot of non-standard equipment that doesn’t want to play nice for automation. This can make it difficult to create a remote with completely reliable activities, so that when the user presses “Watch a Movie” they get exactly that and not situations where something didn’t turn on correctly or the sound doesn’t match the picture.

Let’s take the case of a DVD player that only has a toggle power command. Press the [Power] button and it turns on, press it again and it turns off. If your activity’s macro always sends out that same “Power” command each time you run it, then your system can quickly become out of sync when the macro is run multiple times. A popular workaround is for the remote to “remember” that it’s already sent the power command, and to not send it again until you want to shut the device off. This is called “state tracking”, which uses what more advanced controls call “variables”. But since that feature is not available here, the Xsight recommends that users instead create “Hello” and “Good Night” activities to power the entire entertainment system on and off (although those really sound more like traditional system power macros). The problem is that this immediately takes away from the one-touch concept, hallmark to the activity ideal.

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