The advanced universal remote market is not a very crowded market. In fact, for some time now, the Logitech Harmony line has been pretty much the only game in town. Newcomer NEEO wants to reverse this monopoly with its new NEEO Remote and NEEO Brain combos ($ 369), a system that can connect just about any AV system, with an assortment of connected smart devices, including Nest, Philips Hue, Sonos and more

NEEO’s two-part system includes the Brain, which, true to its name, handles all the lifting work. This is a washer-shaped device with 360-degree infrared blasters that dot its outer perimeter, and which has an IR extender (there is one in the box) to connect devices held in a closed AV enclosure , for example. This central hub also connects to your Wi-Fi network, and the configuration requires you to connect it to your router via Ethernet so that everything is squared, as you did for the speakers Sonos . you are familiar with this process.

Most of the installation work you need to do for NEEO to work is happening on your phone, and that’s where it becomes apparent that this smart remote has been designed for a modern context. Logitech’s Harmony software has come a long way, and now you can do everything you have to do from the iOS and Android app but it’s still obvious that its legacy is something you initially install on a desktop computer. NEEO-based software feels at home on mobile, and it makes the installation and setup process much better overall.

The other main component of the NEEO system is the NEEO remote control. It is a fantastic piece of industrial design, first of all. This is an elegant rectangle made from aerospace grade aluminum that oozes charm, in a way that nothing in the current Logitech Harmony range can get closer to matching. The minimalist design still does not suffer from the problem of “which way is it?” That Apple viewers remotely, because of subtle design benchmarks including the weighting of the background and the presence of many physical buttons.

A NEEO remote control is not necessary for the system to work – you can use the Brain with the companion app for iPhone or Android, but the remote is a joy to hold and use, thanks to its unique design, and It has a super high density display extremely responsive to the touch and pleasant touch input. NEEO has taken a long time to ensure that the touch screen experience is correct, and it pays, providing a clear and simple control interface that adapts to the needs of any activity that you run at a time.

The NEEO remote control also has an “SOS” feature that allows you to locate it if you lose it. It can even be configured to recognize different hands if you want to set profiles for separate household members, or set parental control profiles that restrict access to certain contents or devices. This sort of thing is where NEEO’s features outperform the competition, and shows special attention to the cases of using modern devices.

A NEEO remote control can also control multiple NEEO brains, which is another limit of completion. This means that you can configure NEEO brains in every room where you have devices to control, and carry your remote from one place to another instead of having multiple ones. NEEO’s brain is still at $ 200 alone, however, it’s definitely still a barrier to entry.

NEEO does just about everything you expect from a smart remote control in 2018: You can set recipes on the die, including with triggers like time alarms or motion detection (without using IFTTT ). You can connect to Alexa, although this feature is limited at the moment, with other updates promised in the future to make it better.

The bottom line is that NEEO offers a competent and smart alternative to the big dog on the block, the Logitech Harmony system. The Logitech offering is even more robust and mature in terms of compatibility Alexa and Google Wizard as well as strong performance, but NEEO has some smart ideas and unique takes that will serve more than a few. Patient users and tech-forward better over time.

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