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upcoming TouchSquid remote control (Android-based tablet) - thoughts/opinions?

post #1 of 131
Thread Starter 


I'm just curious about other AVS'ers opinions/thoughts on the soon-to-be-released TouchSquid remote. I've been sorta following it since another forum member mentioned it a while ago in another thread, along with sending an email to be placed on a waiting list. FWIW, I recently rec'd an email this week regarding the Early Adopter program, where I could purchase one (for a discount from list price) and be part of a group that would provide feedback and recommend improvements. That would be pretty cool, as I've seen in some of the Harmony threads where other forum members worked with Logitech, beta-testing some past remotes.

Some remote history for me: We currently use a Harmony One for the everyday AV system (primarily everyday TV watching, 40 LCD), and we also have a Harmony 1100 for the big system (primarily movie/big sporting event watching, 60 Kuro). I've been using Harmony remotes since Intrigue Technologies (pre-Logitech buyout, IIRC) made the model 659, and I've regularly upgraded with the 880, 890 Pro (still in box), and on to the current One and 1100 remotes. The everyday system is currently 100% IR-controlled, which is why I'm considering the TouchSquid for it since it has the built-in IR blaster.

All in all, I've been very happy with past and current Harmony remotes, but like most of us hereif a new product comes along that improves the experience or makes it easier to control, I'm very interested in upgrading for the right price. And if this TouchSquid remote makes it that much easier for guests to figure out, even better

As a start, I bought the Vizio VTAB1008 tablet from Costco about a month ago as it had the built-in IR blaster and ability to control your home theatre by programming in your specific components, but the Vizio went right back for many reasons: no Activities macros like Harmony, no ability to customize the buttons/layout, no favorite/channel icons, portrait mode only, etc. I had assumed it would fall short of the Harmony way but I gave it the ol' college try anyway. I did like the smaller form factor of the Vizio (8 screen, IIRC) vs the slightly larger 10+ screen Android/iPad tablets, so the 7 TouchSquid would seem to be a very usable size.

I've scanned the iRule thread, seeing what impressive things people are doing with the iPads. But since I'm not that interested in buying an iPad (just not an Apple fan, plus seems a bit big to use), I've wondered about a similar setup for smaller Android tablets. The TouchSquid is an Android-based tablet that should come with 2.3.4 and supposedly will get upgraded to 4.0 (ice cream sandwich?) when available. Besides the Vizio, I'm not aware of any other Android tablets that have a built-in IR blaster? I suppose I could use the WiFi at the house and buy a Global Cache product and go that route with most any tablet, but prefer to keep this everyday system simple and just stick to IR.

I've talked to the owner
of the TouchSquid company on a few occasions, and have learned some good info, as their website seems to be a bit lacking in some areas IMO. The things I do like about the TouchSquid remote are:
  • Favorite channel icons are fifteen (15) per screen, with a total of 45 icons per Activity. Sure beats the six icons per screen (and max 24 per Activity) of the Harmony One/1100.
  • Ability to send IR signals even when sitting in the charging base (or plugged into the second USB port)
  • Ability to learn commands from existing remotes (I assume the process would be similar to the Harmony remotes)
  • Apparently on-board memory is now 16 GB - was previously listed at 4GB.
  • Two USB ports (one regular, plus one mini or micro?), in addition to an SC card slot (unsure of max size it can accept)

The items that I'm not 100% sure about are below, but think they might not be a real issue, per the (comments in parentheses):
  • Ten (10) devices max per Activity (but as I understand it, you could have more than ten devices total programmed into the remote, just that each individual activity - ie, Watch Blu-ray - can't use more than ten devices, which should be fine)
  • Five (5) Activities max per Profile (but multiple Profiles should ease that restriction, such as a Watch TV profile could have His TV, Her TV, His Sports TV, etc.; a Watch DVD profile could have Watch Blu-ray, Watch HD DVD, Listen to CD, etc if we have three different disc players. This assumes I understand their definition of Profile, though)
  • ^^ But the owner mentioned that it might just take a software programming change to increase the maximum numbers stated above.
  • When entering a Watch TV activity, not sure if you can have the favorite channel icons to be the default screen (like the One/1100). Or maybe this option would be ideal: It would be nice to have, say, maybe only 10 channel icons per screen, and a small numeric keypad displayed at the same time - that way you get the best of both worlds?

The items that do concern me are as follows:
  • Being an early adopter of this brand new company's remote obviously has some risks - I'd hate to see a promising product with potential (at least to me) not do well and not be supported due to slow sales. FWIW, I guess I'd still have a functioning Android tablet to use and travel with.
  • The TouchSquid website still shows renderings of the remote and screenshots - it seems real-life pictures of an actual unit would be more convincing. Though to be perfectly clear, the email I rec'd does appear to have an actual photo of a working remote
  • The upcoming Logitech Harmony Link - will this potentially turn any iPad/iPhone/Android phone* into a Harmony-like remote controller, with all the customization I could ever want? (*per the 9/20/11 press release, it's not for Android tablets at this time? Plus if there's no sequences capability, maybe this is not worth considering?)
  • Per the owner, there are more than one thousand channel icons currently available (maybe this is plenty for the US/NA market at this time?). I would hope that more would be added by TouchSquid with regular updates. Per the owner, there's not any way to upload your own custom channel icons at this time (sim. to squareeyes' website), but maybe that capability could be added in the future.
  • In conjunction with the above, I'll assume you can't modify any other icons, such as replacing the generic-looking disc icon with a Blu-ray or HD DVD logo. This is one thing I really wish Logitech would let the user do - really don't like the parrot/TV icon!
  • I asked specifically about rearranging the command icons on the touch screen (ie, swapping the Volume and Channel button locations), and the owner said that was not possible at this time. He did specifically mention that you can add more icons/commands where there is open space on the touchscreen. I'm not sure if you could reprogram existing icons with different commands, or replace existing icons with different ones.
  • I'm not sure how the fifteen channel icons are arranged onscreen - alphabetically, channel-numerically, the order in which programmed into the remote, anywhere the user wants, etc? I'd prefer to arrange in the order of my choosing, like the Harmony.
  • The TouchSquid forums seems to have quite a few bugs - it won't recognize my username/password, nor my email address that I used to register. Running online forums should be easy as pie these days, right?
  • I personally am meh about the TouchSquid name - a bit goofy for my tastes. Though the logo is actually kinda cool, given the earlier renditions shown on the website...IMO.

Who knows, maybe as an early adopter I could help make suggestions that could be implemented, to help make this remote a good bang-for-the-buck...

****************************************************
So I'm curious if any other AVS'ers are considering buying this remote, either as an Early Adopter or at least waiting until some of the bugs might be worked out?

Or are most people just going the iPad/iRule route, or similar with an Andriod tablet?

****************************************************
post #2 of 131
I didn't have time to read your full post, but I scanned their website. This remote having wifi is begging for some kind IP to IR interface.
post #3 of 131
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by scl23enn4m3 View Post

I didn't have time to read your full post, but I scanned their website. This remote having wifi is begging for some kind IP to IR interface.

Yes, but since this remote has the IR blaster built in, it doesn't need to have an additional IP to IR device. But you are correct, that could be another option for using this tablet, if desired.

And I agree my original post was quite lengthy , but wanted to give everyone enough basic info regarding the remote and its capabilities, positives and negatives so that others could weigh in appropriately...
post #4 of 131
Thread Starter 
s_s: Thanks, I am able to log back in now, and have updated the temp password you emailed me.

Could you also address some of my questions in my original post, such as:
  • When entering a Watch TV activity, not sure if you can select a "default" screen. Is the favorite channel icons screen the default, or a standard numeric keypad (where you would toggle between the two?), or DVR-type transport controls, or...?
  • When will your channel icon database be updated? On a regular basis, or when you have requests for a certain number for new icons, or...?
  • Do you have both standard channel icons (ie, ESPN, USA) and hi-def channel icons (ie, ESPN HD, USA HD)?
  • Did I understand your term "Profiles" correctly? I admit I'm not sure if I do...
  • My own quote: "Per the owner, there's not any way to upload your own custom channel icons at this time." What are the chances that this would be allowed? Same with uploading our own icons such as the Blu-ray logo, or an Oppo logo, or a Pioneer logo, etc?
  • My own quote: I'm not sure how the fifteen channel icons are arranged onscreen - alphabetically, channel-numerically, the order in which programmed into the remote, anywhere the user wants, etc? I'd prefer to arrange in the order of my choosing, like the Harmony. Could you clarify this?
Also, could you detail out the button press(es) needed to get to a certain Activity? With a Harmony, I pick up the remote, press the "Watch TV" button, and that's it - done. When picking up the TouchSquid to begin the same activity, it seems like it might be a minimum of three button presses. Is the following accurate?


  1. Pick up remote, press the icon to launch the TouchSquid app
  2. Press the green GO button in the upper right corner, which would open up the last used Profile (such as "Family Room" as I would call it)
  3. Press the TV logo on the "Mode Bar" at the top of the screen
Is this the minimum number of button presses to get me into the Watch TV activity? It would be nice if your website's online manual were updated to clearly indicate what is onscreen and what needs to be pressed.

Also, just a few comments/observations on a few TouchSquid screen layouts, as currently shown on your website:

Watch DVD: the "Eject" button is next to the "Chapter Previous" button. This could cause a lot of Fat Finger errors! You might consider moving the Eject button off by itself, or remove it from this screen altogether. This is the first thing I do when programming a disc player into my Harmony account...just my two cents.




Watch TV: Once the Favorites are onscreen, how do you toggle back to a numeric keypad or transport buttons (ie, DVR)? The first screen shot does not clearly indicate anything. Do you do this by pressing the TV icon in the Mode Bar? By pressing the "heart" icon to toggle between screens? Or might you add a Numeric Pad button somewhere on the Favorites screen, like the one shown in the bottom left of the picture of the TouchSquid Legend screenshot?




HELP button:
The "squid eye"-only HELP button is anything but - you should consider adding the text "HELP" over this icon to make it perfectly clear. This would be especially helpful to someone that might be familiar with Harmony remotes but not the TouchSquid...again, just my two cents.

And speaking of the HELP function, I don't think it will as the "Yes/No" type of questions like the Harmony, per the online manual. Could you post up some example screenshots when the user is using this feature?

Sorry to put you underneath the spotlight with all these questions! But as I'm really, really, REALLY interested in this remote, I just need as much information and clarifications as possible before placing my order for one of these. I really think with user input from AV enthusiasts that this remote could be a great alternative for not that much more cost compared to the higher-level Harmony remotes ...

Thanks!
post #5 of 131
I've just noticed that this is a touchscreen built around an app. Since I already have an android tablet, the Samsung Galaxy 10.1, will the app be available for download?
post #6 of 131
Thread Starter 


I see that you added this picture to your website - thanks! A quick question as the info says:
"The case is made of white plastic which has been painted black, which explains the wear on the corners. Production units are molded with a different plastic with color that goes right through." So is the production unit's plastic case black or white? I'm personally hoping you meant to indicate black...

This looks pretty dang nice, not sure why I haven't placed my order yet...
post #7 of 131
If this does IP control it might be worth checking out. Granted I still need some sort of RF to IR connection since my gear is in an adjacent room. But I could accommodate that if need be.
post #8 of 131
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Keith Mickunas View Post

If this does IP control it might be worth checking out. Granted I still need some sort of RF to IR connection since my gear is in an adjacent room. But I could accommodate that if need be.

This tablet is WiFi, so all you'd need is an appropriate Global Cache product, right?

Actually, that does bring up another question...does the TouchSquid app only send commands via the built-in IR blaster?
post #9 of 131
Quote:
Originally Posted by mak99 View Post

This tablet is WiFi, so all you'd need is an appropriate Global Cache product, right?

Actually, that does bring up another question...does the TouchSquid app only send commands via the built-in IR blaster?

I don't know anything about Global Cache. What I want from IP is the ability to have every command responded to so that the controller knows it was received. No more duplicate button presses or missed commands in macros. It'd be so nice to have that, and it shouldn't be difficult to implement. I have remotes for my receiver, XBMC, Roku and Squeezeboxes on my Android device, there's even one for my PVR, although it's crap, as most Verizon software sucks, but, of course, none of these are integrated.

The holy grail for me is a small box like Logitech has announced, that will work with an RF remote like the 890 or a phone/tablet device, and that box should be able to output IR, IP, and perhaps RS232 to the appropriate devices.

Right now you have to go to Crestron or AMX to do that, and that costs thousands and requires a lot of custom programming from someone trained on those systems. It doesn't seem to me that adding IP control to the Harmony database would be that horribly complex, and should still allow for a device to come in under $1,000.
post #10 of 131
Quote:
Originally Posted by Keith Mickunas View Post

I don't know anything about Global Cache. What I want from IP is the ability to have every command responded to so that the controller knows it was received. No more duplicate button presses or missed commands in macros. It'd be so nice to have that, and it shouldn't be difficult to implement. I have remotes for my receiver, XBMC, Roku and Squeezeboxes on my Android device, there's even one for my PVR, although it's crap, as most Verizon software sucks, but, of course, none of these are integrated.

The holy grail for me is a small box like Logitech has announced, that will work with an RF remote like the 890 or a phone/tablet device, and that box should be able to output IR, IP, and perhaps RS232 to the appropriate devices.

Right now you have to go to Crestron or AMX to do that, and that costs thousands and requires a lot of custom programming from someone trained on those systems. It doesn't seem to me that adding IP control to the Harmony database would be that horribly complex, and should still allow for a device to come in under $1,000.

Global cache along with irule or possibly touchsquid may do what you want. Im still looking into irule, but it seems to be a little too complicated for me. Pro control appeared to be the best of both worlds with a dedicated app for tablets and a standalone remote, but the installer only option kills it for me. The search continues...
post #11 of 131
iRule is bringing out an android version very soon.
post #12 of 131
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by uRemote View Post

iRule is bringing out an android version very soon.

How much would this cost? Could it be used on this TouchSquid tablet?
post #13 of 131
I'm going to have to investigate iRule. While I really want a remote with hard buttons, it's more important to me to get IP and RS232 control. The iRule thread here appears to be kind of mangled, when I start reading the first page it seems right in the middle of things. Are Global Cache and iRule owned by the same company? Or is Global Cache just one hardware brand that iRule supports?
post #14 of 131
Quote:
Originally Posted by Keith Mickunas View Post

I'm going to have to investigate iRule. While I really want a remote with hard buttons, it's more important to me to get IP and RS232 control. The iRule thread here appears to be kind of mangled, when I start reading the first page it seems right in the middle of things. Are Global Cache and iRule owned by the same company? Or is Global Cache just one hardware brand that iRule supports?

I think irule just uses the hardware. I agree, I wish the first post in irule thread would give a faq or something. Everyone in the thread already seems to have been born with the knowledge on how to operate it leaving me quite confused! Theres a few tutorials on youtube.
post #15 of 131
Quote:
Originally Posted by shamus View Post

I think irule just uses the hardware. I agree, I wish the first post in irule thread would give a faq or something. Everyone in the thread already seems to have been born with the knowledge on how to operate it leaving me quite confused! Theres a few tutorials on youtube.

My receiver may work in that capacity, so I might not need extra hardware. I have to research this further, but damn, iRule may be almost the perfect device for me.
post #16 of 131
In my opinion IR is a mixed blessing. 95% of devices work using IR, so any remote control system should cater for it.
On the other hand IR has serious inherent problems:
1. Requires line of sight
2. Dependent on distance and ligting conditions
3. One device's commands might interfere with another device
4. Cannot discretely control two identical devices in your rack
5. Absolutely no feedback from the sent signal itself

In simple setups, a remote control system based only on IR might be a solution.
In any setup where one of the above problems appears such a solution is simply not viable.
post #17 of 131
I purchased one of the Pre-orders as well and I'm hearing the same specs you are. ya I hope support is gonna be good for the touch squid. Sony's new tablet has an IR blaster built in it.
post #18 of 131
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by groovedaddy77 View Post

I purchased one of the Pre-orders as well and I'm hearing the same specs you are. ya I hope support is gonna be good for the touch squid. Sony's new tablet has an IR blaster built in it.

Congrats! I'll probably order mine soon - I'm still over-researching this tech as always, before opening up the 'ol wallet...

Which model Sony has the blaster?

EDIT: Found it, the Tablet S model. From a video I saw of it in action, looks like it doesn't do "Activity" type functions? If so, then I wouldn't consider this at all. Also not sure if you can customize the buttons displayed or are you stuck with what Sony gives you, similar to the Vizio table I had for a day...

At least with the TouchSquid, you are able to do some customization.
post #19 of 131
Thread Starter 
So I'm curious if any other forum members have preordered (or considering) this remote? I've been offline awhile on vacation and see no activity here since my 9/28 posting...
post #20 of 131
I'm considering this remote but need more info. I have a next gen pronto that I like because you can do a lot of things with it. Can you create your own pages with this remote and drop buttons where you wish too? Will it learn my light dimmer remote?
Thanks
post #21 of 131
Quote:
Originally Posted by mak99 View Post

So I'm curious if any other forum members have preordered (or considering) this remote? I've been offline awhile on vacation and see no activity here since my 9/28 posting...

I'm waiting for iRULE for android to come out. One of the main reasons is it will support device feedback, that being said, it will be limited to the "pro" version.
I already have a viewsonic Gtablet to try this out on and not really interested in anything apple. If it works nice on the Gtab, then I'll buy a smaller dedicated unit. Either-way, I think we need to wait for things to shake out a bit. I have waited many years for a solution like this, another year (I hope not) won't kill me. But it looks like we are closer than ever to a good HTPC/universal remote control solution for relatively low cost.
post #22 of 131
Disclaimer:

I am an employee of Touchsquid Technology Inc.

A few important points to make:

The Touchsquid is an Android based tablet. The Touchsquid remote control is an application running on the device. Unlike a standard remote it is almost all software. The first release of the software will be highly usable, but we plan to listen to user feedback and add the features and fix bugs reported in a timely and responsive manner.

You heard it here first:
The release version of the remote app supposrts Global Cache iTach Wifi and IP Ir blasters. You can use then together with the built in IR blaster. Look for a press release in a few days.

A generic version for Kindle Fire, Motorola Zoom, Samsung Galaxy and other Tablets will appear in the Android and Amazon markets in the first week of November. It will require the Global Cache device to operate. A free demo version with some functions crippled will be available for download so you can make sure it works on your tablet or phone before purchasing. The app will be priced at $29.

Some answers to questions in the forum posts:

To watch a DVD from a running tablet.

1. Touchsquid app launch from widget on desktop.
2. Go button
3. Power on button (switches on all the devices)
4. Watch DVD activity (Watch TV is the default at start-up)
5. Play button

So that is 5 touches from the start. But if you are already watching TV it is 2 buttons.

Favorites are set like the channels on a car radio, you hold the button for a long click, and the set favorite dialog appears, you choose a channel and icon or text, and hit OK. So you can put your favorites in any order you like.

There are 3 screens of 15 favorites each, and you change screens with the channel up down buttons when in favorites mode (the heart button). To exit that mode you touch the watch TV activity button.

The Watch TV activity includes controls for PVRs, Video on Demand and most of the other features on advanced cable or satellite boxes.

We are committed to a schedule of quarterly software updates, which will include IR database updates to accommodate new equipment.

I don't want to give a sales pitch here, but I will try to answer questions on the forum as fully as possible.

-tstech
post #23 of 131
TStech, are you also supporting IP and RS232 commands or is this strictly IR?
post #24 of 131
Quote:
Originally Posted by TStech View Post

Disclaimer:

I am an employee of Touchsquid Technology Inc.

A few important points to make:

The Touchsquid is an Android based tablet. The Touchsquid remote control is an application running on the device. Unlike a standard remote it is almost all software. The first release of the software will be highly usable, but we plan to listen to user feedback and add the features and fix bugs reported in a timely and responsive manner.

You heard it here first:
The release version of the remote app supposrts Global Cache iTach Wifi and IP Ir blasters. You can use then together with the built in IR blaster. Look for a press release in a few days.

A generic version for Kindle Fire, Motorola Zoom, Samsung Galaxy and other Tablets will appear in the Android and Amazon markets in the first week of November. It will require the Global Cache device to operate. A free demo version with some functions crippled will be available for download so you can make sure it works on your tablet or phone before purchasing. The app will be priced at $29.


Some answers to questions in the forum posts:

To watch a DVD from a running tablet.

1. Touchsquid app launch from widget on desktop.
2. Go button
3. Power on button (switches on all the devices)
4. Watch DVD activity (Watch TV is the default at start-up)
5. Play button

So that is 5 touches from the start. But if you are already watching TV it is 2 buttons.

Favorites are set like the channels on a car radio, you hold the button for a long click, and the set favorite dialog appears, you choose a channel and icon or text, and hit OK. So you can put your favorites in any order you like.

There are 3 screens of 15 favorites each, and you change screens with the channel up down buttons when in favorites mode (the heart button). To exit that mode you touch the watch TV activity button.

The Watch TV activity includes controls for PVRs, Video on Demand and most of the other features on advanced cable or satellite boxes.

We are committed to a schedule of quarterly software updates, which will include IR database updates to accommodate new equipment.

I don't want to give a sales pitch here, but I will try to answer questions on the forum as fully as possible.

-tstech

tstech,
Wiil your generic app support built-in IR blasters on other tablets, such as Sony S and Vizio VTAB1008?

Also, will your tablet have GPS?
Thanks.
post #25 of 131
Thread Starter 
Well, I've jumped on board and placed my preorder today...fingers crossed!

Hopefully we all might get these in hand before the Thanksgiving holiday as their preorder page indicates they should receive their first shipment by Nov. 15...
post #26 of 131
Hi Everybody,

I am from Slovenia and we are a home automation specialist and integrator. We used to integrate a lot of Philips Pronto's. But since the Tablet pc's came along a lot is moving forward.

I am also waiting for my first Touchsquid demo unit cause we will be also distributing this product and from the first looks it is just what we need to solve our GUI for home automation and universal remote controll.

Although I am solving now an issue with one of my clients who has 5 zones of a/v equipment and did not want to use the Ipad or wait for the Toucchsquid with Sony Tablet S ang Global Cache IP2IR modules i have compatibility issues with all the apps. All of them are crashing.

But i am realy excited about the Touchsquid and will report how it performs as soon as we get it here.
post #27 of 131
Thread Starter 
Hi, Igor - welcome to the Forums!

Nice to know there's interest for this remote around the globe. Hopefully T/S gets their first shipment soon so they can then send out to us early adopters. Heck, since I'm about a two-hour drive from their company, I should get mine first!
post #28 of 131
How is everyone liking this? I am not a mac/apple fan, i hate itunes and its low bitrate music, so I dont use apple products.

I also like how this tablet is a bit smaller if Im going to be using it mainly as a remote, and other things second.

Any input on how this performs in comparison?
post #29 of 131
Also do you have any control over altering the software at all, setting up macros, button press length ect...
post #30 of 131
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Murilo View Post

Also do you have any control over altering the software at all, setting up macros, button press length ect...

We won't know until we get these in our hands!

Ironic timing on your post - I rec'd an email this morning, indicating that US buyers should have these before Christmas...

From my past conversations w/ the owner of the company, the end user will have be able to do some customizing, but us early adopters won't know exactly how much until we are using it...
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