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Acoustic Research Xsight Touch Review
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Walk softly, carry a big box...
The Xsight Touch comes in a large, exceedingly sturdy box with a magnetic flap on the front. Packaged along with the remote is an 850mAh Lithium Ion rechargeable battery, a large docking station, an AC/DC “wall wart” adaptor, software CD, and a programming manual of surprising heft.

The Touch is a tall and thin remote, as is the current trend, with an average sized footprint but an especially slim profile. It measures 8.75” long, 2.24” wide and 0.75” thin (22.2cm by 5.7cm by 1.9cm). The thickness and width of the remote is consistent without any sort of taper, although the front and bottom case sport a pointed parallelogram shape. The Touch is surprisingly lightweight for its size, measuring 6.6 ounces (185 grams) with rechargeable LiIon battery, or just 5.6 ounces (155 grams) without. The lower-end Xsight Color uses 3 traditional disposable AAA batteries, which more than doubles that model’s thickness to 1.8” (4.6cm).

The Xsight Touch is a hybrid remote featuring a medium-sized color LCD touchscreen at the top along with a large number of hard buttons below. The screen uses capacitive touch technology, so the plastic around and over the display is one continuous surface without a traditional raised bezel. The touch layer maps to six fixed on-screen buttons, with a special “slider bar” in a grooved section below the screen that acts as page forward/backward keys. The display itself is the same as you’d find on many flip cell phones, with a modest 176 by 220 pixel resolution. The Xsight Color version uses the same LCD screen, but instead of the touch layer has six traditional hard buttons next to the screen, plus two other keys lower down to change pages.

The Touch’s vast selection of controls begins with a single round [Power] button above the LCD. Below the screen and slider bar is a row of system buttons made up of four small system buttons, used to access different sections of the remote: [Home/Back], [Favorites], [Activities] and [Devices]. Next is a large cluster that combines menu, cursor, volume and channel controls into a single arrangement. It starts with a small row of keys for [Guide], [Menu], [Info] and [Exit], followed by two large toggles placed on either side of the remote for [Volume] and [Channel], with tiny [Muting] and [Jump] buttons inset right into the keys. Between is a 5-way cursor control, with a ring for directions and separate [OK] button in the middle.

Next is a third horizontal row of four buttons, this time for the color keys: [Red], [Green], [Yellow] and [Blue]. These are followed by a large transport key cluster, which includes dedicated buttons for [Skip], [Replay], [List] and [Record]. Finally, at the bottom of the remote you’ll find a compact but well spaced 10-digit numeric keypad, with adjacent [Enter] and [Input] buttons. Although some might find the dedicated [Input] button handy, more traditional would have been an HDTV [Dot/Dash] key.

Sleek, shiny, black and blue.
Much of the Xsight Touch has been finished in gloss piano black, the kind of surface that looks great until you touch it – and leave behind a perfect ten card of fingerprints. Buttons are made of hard plastic, most also in glossy black. The exception is a small area around the menu controls that switches to a matte texture, with both case and buttons finished in a “grippy” tactile paint. This is a curious design touch, as this will undoubtedly be the highest trafficked area of the remote and a soft painted finish will show wear quicker than hard shiny plastic. The Xsight Color differentiates itself by painting the buttons and housing in the lower half of the remote in silver.

The Xsight Touch incorporates blue LED button backlighting, activated automatically by a pickup sensor (and yes, the ecologically friendly pickup sensor does make a mild rattling sound). Button labels illuminate and keys are outlined in bright blue light on a jet black background – it’s very chic. Commendably every button on the Touch has been lit, even the isolated [Power] button way at the top... although the four color buttons are a little dim, and markings for the touch-sensitive slider bar are nearly absent.

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