PC Mag: ESPN Ultimate Remote Not All That

Dave Zatz —  June 18, 2008

PC Mag has spoken: the ESPN Ultimate Remote ain’t all that. Mari was feeling good after a brief device intro at The Cable Show, but my pal (and fellow IU alumn) PJ tested the WiFi remote in an AV environment and has graced it with only 2 out of 5 stars:

The problem is, despite its $300 price tag, it is not particularly simple to set up or use, and it doesn’t execute any of its fancy Web tricks gracefully.

Though PJ prefers the Harmony One, he’s hopeful that the Windows CE-based Ultimate Remote will see some software improvements that justify the steep price of entry.

6 responses to PC Mag: ESPN Ultimate Remote Not All That

  1. This is the remote my Dad bought:


    He says it works great.

  2. I had no idea you were a fellow IU grad. You don’t even live in Indiana do you? I thought they revoked your degree if you moved out of the state. ;-)

    The Philips Pronto is still (begrudgingly) my remote of choice. It’s difficult to program but extremely flexible. But I probably will not purchase another Pronto again, due to their unwillingness to and implement customer requests that are repeated over and over on RemoteCentral.com. For example, there is still no WPA WiFi encryption – WEP is all they care to support. Also, I’m not happy with how the “Pronto Team” starts threads asking for feedback and then never, ever replies — to that thread or any other.

    I’m hoping that Harmony will make a version of the Squeeze Box Duet remote. All they need to do is add some more hard buttons and turn it loose to enthusiasts to develop any and every feature imaginable.

  3. I had a great time visiting IU a few times as an undergrad, which probably influenced my decision to move the Bloomington for grad school.

    I can’t say I’ve been a fan of touch screen remotes like the Prontos – I need more tactile feedback and single handed operation. Though they’re obviously powerful and extensible. (I’m also a WPA household.)

  4. Well I’ve had that ESPN remote now since Monday and I don’t get why that review is so down on it. I agree with some of what he says such as the buttons and ergonimcs which could be better – but it is no way as bad as he makes out. Also, he actually lists the messaging feature as a ‘con’ instead of a ‘pro’. What is that all about? It is not ‘propriatary’ as he states – you can send and receive ordinary e-mail and send and receive SMS message for free. Sure, the remote has its own email address but that is better than trying to marry it to your work or gmail account. There are similar strange criticisms in there like complaining it only supports mobile web sites and not big ones. All the sites on there like ESPN, WSJ and ABC render fine as they are and would clearly be impossible to use if they were not the mobile versions. He didn’t mention all the features such as the movie search (gives you full cast, synopsis, plot etc. etc.) and games (mine sweeper). Harmony does none of that – it is just a plain old universal remote control.

  5. ESPN got some bullsh*t ODM to crank out a quick buck device. Of course it won’t sell well but at least ESPN’s name is on it. The best PR they could ask for.
    In my opinion, of course.
    Trust me, that freaking thing will end up in a landfill with those unsold Atari 2600 games.

  6. Although I’m reluctant to defend the Philips Pronto touchscreen remotes, I have to admit that there are enough button on the front to be fully functional without having to use the touchscreen. The original Pronto had only 7 programmable hard buttons, but the newest version has 21 and a scroll wheel. That’s enough to activate menus, navigate, select, play/fast-forward/rewind, change volume, mute, channels, etc. The only time I use the touch screen is when I’m changing sources or turning the system on or off. At some point, you start to have too many hard buttons and they become a hindrance instead of an asset, and the Pronto walks that line pretty well.

    The lack of hard buttons is what will prevent the Apple iPhone/Touch from becoming a great universal remote. The hardware is technically capable and a great remote control application will be released shortly, but the hard user interface needs to be “blind capable” because people would rather be looking at their TV and not their remote control.