OneForAll Xsight Touch and Xsight RF Extender

OneForAll has been familiar to most people for years as a key player in the universal remote game. The Xsight Touch represents the top of the range remote and the addition of the RF Extender, tested here as well, means its versatility is even greater. But will this control combination leave us hooked or feeling remote? Doug Harman finds out.

The remote's dimensions (220 x 56 x 18mm) means it's quite large but provides enough room for a colourful LCD screen on the top. It features an array of buttons including the large volume and channel change buttons at the centre that all fall easily under the thumb. A four-way control and OK buttons are found here also and all buttons have a neat, tactile rubber feel and backlighting, so are easy to find in the dark.  In fact, press any button and the whole thing lights up with a cool blue glow along with the screen, which illuminates colourfully. 

The loser section of the remote houses the “usual” set of plasticy number buttons, which are also quite small to use. Above here we find play buttons for devices such as DVD, Blu-ray, VHS, and set top boxes with 2,800 compatible brands all capable of being used via the Touch. A line of coloured text buttons sit above the numerical controls while the other menu and guide controls are placed below the screen, dealing with most of your button options. 

Buttons click loudly as you press them which I like as it feels rather retro. In terms of design the Touch is a simple slim block nevertheless, it is the screen that will make or break the remote.

Touch control is limited to the screen but you cannot control everything from the screen, you still have to use buttons as you would with most other remotes but it does help setting up and provides a fast “Home” position to get you quickly into setting up a new TV say. 

The screen has a number of Touch buttons that let you select your already set up Devices, there's a section on Favourites, one on Activities and Settings. A recessed slider control below the screen lets you scroll across screens if there's not room for all options (if you have multiple favourites for example) and so it can be very useful even if the control is a little hit and miss, something the screen is also plagued by, often needing repeated touches to get things selected. The screen icons are of a good size however; the screen is of low resolution and looks like grainy. 

Set Up
A universal remote is only as good as its set-up and I've tried using a few over the years, without much success or loads of frustration or both! Here though things are quite good since you pick your manufacturer from the set up screen but then need to progress through available options to locate the button set up that matches your device. However, the easiest way is to program the remote with your devices is via a PC and supplied EZ-RC software and USB cable. 

A quick install identifies your remote and applies any firmware updates if they are needed. It then connects to the EZ-RC website wizards to start the remote's set-up. Searching for your devices through the list of manufacturers are fast tunnelling down into model numbers is easy. 

While programming our TV did not take long while setting up other devices was a longer process, especially if you have a device that's a generic brand such as Goodmans rather than a more recognised brand such as Sony

In short you move through the set up, step by step and once you have all your devices selected, you update the controller with the data and the Touch is ready to go. I had no problems accessing the usual device functions (channel change or volume control) while some advanced features but some devices had missing options.

Cleverly however, the Touch has a learning feature for such missing options allowing you to add anything missing as either a hard button, or an option on the screen; you can name your new controls, as you want too on the screen, which makes things tidy too. 

The Xsight Touch can support up to 18 devices, enough for the most gadget hungry householder. The ability to program in Activities using the EZ-RC software also means you can set-up anything that usually takes a number of button presses. An example might be switching the to a TV input, activating a surround audio system and firing up your Blu-ray player for a movie night. Activities allow you to easily do all that from one Activities button press. You can also set up various user profiles for all those in the home with a preferred use or set up which is very nice too. 

RF Extender
Combined with the Xsight Touch RF Extender the remote control can extend its reach to other devices even in other rooms without direct line sight.

It picks up the Touch's IR signal, converts it to an radio frequency and small sensors (or “IR Eyes”) attached to up to six devices which convert the signal back to IR and controls each device accordingly, each set up in the ways described above.

The RF Extender is small and comes complete with six leads that plug into the back of the Extender (along with a mains connection) and then you must attach the relevant IR Eyes on or near to (within 5cm of the corresponding device) if you can't find the devices IR receiver.

You then use the Xsight Touch in the usual way to control those devices bearing in mind if you can't see the device if it's in another room.

There are limits though. The Extender needs to be close to the devices it will control, or at least within the reach of the supplied IR Eye cables and you have to get used to the fact if you want to use the Extender then you'll have lots of small wires and their associated IR Eye's running across your kit, which can look, well, a bit untidy and may not suit the minimalist among you.

Verdict: 
The OneForAll Xsight Touch and RF Extender ensemble seems very expensive but shopping around online will provide many cheaper outlets than the RRPs quoted here. The Xsight Touch is comprehensive in its control options and has bags of flexibility be it various users or multiple device “Activities”. Hook it up to your PC to really unleash its power... 
The rechargeable battery and dock mean there are few problems with flat batteries and it's powerful enough to control a number of devices without having to point directly at each specific one. 

I like the backlit illumination and while the blockiness is not aesthetically very pleasing, it does the job well enough. As for the RF Extender, it's a great idea that really works well but it also seems a bit Heath Robinson once you’ve got the six sets of IR Eyes stuck all over your kit, which will drive any house proud minimalist to distraction particularly so if you have a lot of gear all in one rack or piece of furniture.