The ICS iRemote Saint John NB
Saint John, NB
The ICS iRemote
December 1, 2006 By Brent Butterworth
It’s incredible to think that only a few years ago, we had no idea what music we were playing. When we hit the track skip or disc change buttons on our CD changers, we didn’t know what was coming up—unless our memory was really good. Digital technology changed all that, though. Suddenly, we’re scrolling through the menus on our iPods to select our favorite music. Or glancing at a display to see what tune is playing on Sirius satellite radio’s Underground Garage channel.
Those who own multiroom audio systems don’t have it as easy. Sure, they can connect music servers, iPods, and satellite radio tuners to their systems. But unless they invest in an extremely costly, complex Crestron or AMX touchscreen remote control system, they probably have to turn on the TV to see what’s playing. Fine for the living room, but who wants to put a TV on the back porch of their country home just so they can pick out their favorite Chingy tunes?
Not me. I’d prefer just to get Niles’ new IntelliControl ICS system. The ICS is among the first in a new crop of multiroom systems that displays metadata—information about a tune that is stored in a digital music file itself or in a separate database—on keypads and remotes.
The slim ICS iRemote includes a backlit LCD display that lets me pick tunes off my iPod and browse the offerings on XM and Sirius satellite radio. I can see exactly what’s playing—and if I don’t like it, I can easily find something else to listen to. And I don’t need to get up from my chair to do any of this. A round base communicates with the remote wirelessly through the ZigBee standard, and charges the remote’s battery.
Niles also offers in-wall control options. There’s the Contact in-wall color touchscreen; the Display, an in-wall keypad whose button layout and LCD screen are nearly identical to those found on the iRemote; and the Single, a tiny, single-gang keypad that doesn’t have a display but does let you select a source and control volume.
The iRemote, the Display, and the Single each host a group of eight buttons that can give you instant access to your entertainment options. Niles includes hundreds of preprinted labels for these buttons. You might have your installer set up a Jazz button that provides instant access to Real Jazz, XM’s traditional jazz channel. Or you might prefer to have the Jazz button start playing all the Miles Davis tunes stored on your iPod. About the only thing it can’t do is call up Wynton Marsalis and arrange a performance at your home. The Contact touchscreen can provide the same functionality through its Favorites menu, although it’s not as intuitive or inviting as the hard buttons on the other interfaces.
It’s a pity that most ICS owners will never notice the GXR2, which is the "brain box" of the system. The GXR2 is the first modular multiroom controller I have seen. Like a desktop computer, it has slots that let you add functions as you desire.
The six slots accommo...