SAN FRANCISCO – How many remotes does it take to watch television, stream Netflix or record your favorite show on DVR?
The Ray Super Remote wants to declutter your coffee table and become the central nervous system of all of your home entertainment systems. The touch-screen device, released Tuesday, is designed to control TVs, cable boxes, DVRs, video game consoles and Internet streaming players such as Roku and Apple TV. What’s more, it runs on software that learns viewers’ preferences so it can list programs suited to personal interests.
“As we looked at ways to reimagine TV, it seemed like the remote control needed the most help,” says David Skokna, CEO of New York-based Ray Enterprises. “We think we have a big opportunity to do something magical.”
Priced at $199, the remote won’t be released until May or June, but pre-orders are being accepted online at http://www.ray.co . It requires a Wi-Fi system and pay-TV boxes to work properly.
This isn’t the first attempt to build a smarter remote control. Logitech and a few other electronics companies have been making universal remote controls for years. More recently, a variety of mobile apps have been offering ways to turn smartphones and tablets into multipurpose remote controls.
After nearly three years developing his device, Skokna is counting on the Ray remote’s versatility and intelligence to stand out from the other options on the market.
The Ray remote controls more than 200,000 devices and can run applications that will enable it to control other Internet-connected home appliances, such as Google’s Nest thermostat. The search and recommendation features are set up to eliminate the need to spend a lot of time looking for content. Users can tell the remote what kinds of programming interests them, such as soccer or comedy, so shows fitting those categories are automatically highlighted on the nearly 5-inch screen.
The remote’s battery lasts for about 10 days, and can be easily recharged in a power station that doubles as a holding tray.
The biggest question facing the Ray remote may be this: How many people are so frustrated with juggling multiple remote controls that they will be willing to spend $199 on another device?