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Skip 1s w/ Flirc USB Review/Feedback and Usage Tips from an Advanced User


chrish16

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I've had the remote for about a week, and for the most part, I love it. Build quality is great, as everyone else has been saying.

I've read a ton of the feedback threads on this forum, and there seems to be general consensus around a few items, like the popular request for "smart" activity switching / being able to map functions to the activity switching keys, and complaints that the remote is IR-only and doesn't support RF/Wi-Fi/Bluetooth/whatever other nonsense your Harmony remote does or did.

That being said, in this thread, I want to focus more on stuff I haven't seen posted or posted very sparingly, that could feasibly be implemented on the remote with the hardware as it currently exists, and then later my wish list for a gen 2/3 remote.

Context: My home is a mix of Home Assistant and Q-SYS. Home Assistant exposes my hodgepodge of "smart" home devices to the Apple Home app for consistency, and Q-SYS is a DSP / AV router for all of my AV equipment with some custom scripting for complicated stuff (Q-SYS can also be thought of as an enterprise-type control system similar to Crestron in a lot of ways).

Current Remote:

  • Flirc USB Profiles: I was very surprised that adding the Flirc USB as a device for the remote doesn't come with all of the pairing profiles the Flirc USB supports standard. Where is the full keyboard profile? Especially under the "PC" and "Misc" device categories in the Skip app which seem like they'd be a natural fit. As other users have mentioned, the workaround for using the keyboard profile is to add a bogus device to the activity you're creating, and then manually having the Flirc USB learn that device's IR commands and map it to whatever keyboard keys you want. This works, but it feels very hacky and really I don't understand why it's necessary.
     
  • Color Button Usage: The color button/colored mode D-pad almost feels like an afterthought or just a reason to throw in some colors and make the product look "pretty." It doesn't feel very functional.
    • Expand The Effectiveness of the Color Button: It is very strange to me that the color button only gives the remote 4 additional buttons in the form of the arrow keys on the D-pad. In my opinion the color button would be way more useful if it was a mode switch button, similar to the existing activity buttons, a "sub-activity" or "secret menu" if you will. It should allow you to remap all of the keys under that color. A-Red "volume up" should do something different from A-Green, B-Red, C-Red, and A-colorless "volume up", etc. This would also go a long way to address the complaint I keep seeing that the remote doesn't support enough activities.

      Further, the Skip app currently suggests that the D-pad's "enter" button can be mapped in color mode, but in practice, the app allows you to do this, but then the remote doesn't do anything with that key. This seems like a bug and should be fixed- either removed in software, or implemented on the remote.
       
    • Caps Lock instead of Shift: Right now the color button changes the D-pad functionality for a few seconds, then reverts the D-pad back to normal. This is very annoying when you want to use the color mode D-pad for an extended time. We should at least have the option to make the color button function more like a caps lock key instead of an automatically timing out shift key. Press it once to change the color to red (with LED feedback around the enter button while in that color), twice to change to green, etc, until you eventually revert back to colorless/LED feedback turned off.

Tips for People Unsatisfied with IR Only:

  • Build a Simple Hub: More advanced wireless "smart" home devices come with a hub device because the processing power required for some of these advanced features necessitates it, not to mention how impractical it would be to implement Wi-Fi on a triple-A battery powered remote. To move beyond IR with this remote, you'll need to implement your own hub of sorts. In my case, I bought a $35 Raspberry Pi 4 (and Flirc case of course), paired it with a Flirc USB, and stuck it in my entertainment center. The Raspberry Pi is programmed to wait for keyboard input, and then execute commands based on the received input. It allows me to use the Skip 1s to control my Q-SYS equipment (volume, mute, speaker routing changes) which is controlled via Ethernet, as well as change lighting scenes in my home. With the current hardware, I think it's the only solution if you need to control more than just IR devices. Although I don't think this is difficult, it may be too much for the average consumer.

Gen 2/3 Remote Wish List:

  • Backlighting: My biggest gripe with this remote currently is that there is no backlighting. I read on this forum that that was an intentional choice to squeeze as much battery life out of the remote as possible, but I would argue it's the wrong choice. Multiple times I've watched a movie at night and couldn't see the buttons on the remote. Thankfully now I've mostly memorized the button positions, but in a future remote, I'd like...
     
  • Rechargeable Batteries and a Charging Dock: Like in many other high-end remotes. The Crestron remote comes to mind. It would also be a beautiful way to display the remote on a coffee table. Bonus points if the dock is wireless. Bonus points if the entire backlight changes color to match the current "color mode" of the remote.
     
  • A Flirc Hub for the Flirc Remote: Would go a long way to please the power users and Harmony people without requiring a huge time investment on their part. Maybe instead of bundling the remote with a Flirc USB, bundle with a Hub, which is essentially a SBC with integrated IR/RF receiver, and Ethernet.

photo_TSR-310-DS_Remote.png

Edited by chrish16
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  • chrish16 changed the title to Skip 1s w/ Flirc USB Review/Feedback and Usage Tips from an Advanced User

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