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In terms of tactile response, the Kameleon’s membrane keypad depresses enough to give the impression that something has been hit. Yet, as the control surface is perfectly smooth plastic, there’s no delineation between individual buttons. Until one is very familiar with key placement, it would be impossible to use the remote “blindly”.
Much like an LCD touchscreen-based remote, the Kameleon is capable of hiding unused buttons from view, or even displaying animated feedback. While LCD remotes can be read without any sort of backlight under normal lighting, with the Kameleon the backlight has become the display – so when the remote isn’t activated, all you see is a featureless dark blue facade. Once the Kameleon illuminates its extraordinary vibrant blue keys... you have an instantly impressive remote unlike anything else on the market: the interactivity of an LCD, the durability of a hard buttoned remote, and the brightness of things that glow!
A case for a change.
The original 6-device Kameleon model 15-2133 created for Radio Shack was a break from conventional remote control design. It was long, wide, exceptionally thin, and wholly rectangular. Constructed primarily out of a large cast aluminum body capped with translucent plastic ends, the Radio Shack model was both sturdy in construction and simplistically contemporary in style... but not particularly ergonomic in form.
It’s difficult to decide whether to describe the Kameleon 8’s new case as a redesign, an enhancement, or a economization of the original Radio Shack version. Perhaps all three. It’s outwardly more recognizable as a remote than the 15-2133, and is certainly much more comfortable to hold.
The Kameleon 8 measures 9.22” long, 2.66” wide and 0.98” thick (23.5cm by 6.8cm by 2.5cm), but slims to as little as 2.17” wide (5.5cm) and 0.80” thick (2.0cm) in the middle. The remote weighs 7.0 ounces (198 grams) with batteries, or 5.4 ounces (153 grams) without. That’s negligibly lighter than 15-2133, despite increased use of plastic over metal. The remote’s balance point is exactly in the middle, although for a remote this long I would have preferred that weight shifted slightly lower.
The back of the Kameleon has been ergonomically sculpted, with both its length and breadth tapering thinner at the midpoint. An elongated egg-shaped bulge on the rear reflects other recent One For All designs and holds the four required AAA batteries (not included). Instead of the 15-2133’s difficult battery compartment, whose bizarre reassembly would confound M.C. Escher, the Kameleon 8 sticks with the traditional lid-and-latch familiar to all.
The thin silver bezel running around the remote’s periphery is made out of solid die cast aluminum, while the bottom half of the case is plastic coated in a black paint of the oh-so-grippy variety. In addition to the main control surface and battery compartment, there is a single exposed infrared emitter at the front of the remote. This emitter serves double duty, as it is also used for learning codes.
Overall, the Kameleon 8 is a very comfortable remote to hold, with the top of the battery compartment’s bulge forming a natural resting place for index fingers. The two case halves fit together extremely well, with absolutely no rough or sharp edges. The remote feels solidly constructed and well weighted for its size, with very little possible lateral twisting thanks to the metal frame.