How many remote controls do you have in your home? I counted 5 in my living room. Not to mention, an additional 4 in my bedroom. These add up quickly, and well, switching remotes, keeping track of them can be a real hassle. Astro Smart offers a solution with the KlikR. The Klikr is a coin-size device that allows your mobile phone to be the command centre of all your remotes. It sounded really exciting and I wanted to try it.
KlikR is a small Bluetooth product that can be stuck onto or right next to any infrared remote controlled electronic product, making it almost instantly controllable from your Android or iPhone. It began as a Kickstarter project, and is now in it’s production stage. In Singapore, the KilkR is distributed by Axtro Smart, whicht aims to enhance customers’ quality of living by harnessing smart technology in their living and working environments.
The KlikR mobile app looks good, and intuitive to use. It allows you to organize all of your devices in your home, room by room. Using the app, you can then navigate through your remote controls in each room by swiping or by selecting from a horizontal list.
Klickr offers a number of pre-defined templates (television, Blu-ray, air-conditioner, etc), which is great but there doesn’t seem to be a way to setup your own remote template for now. I appreciate the ease of use, but if remote doesn’t map the template exactly, you will end up with missing keys or icons that don’t match the function. Setting up the remote is relatively straightforward but tedious in that it requires to learn each individual key.
If you want your family or friends to use KlikR, there’s no need for them to set it up again. Simply share your setup with a QR code from the application’s home screen. Furthermore, all your setup and devices are backed up on the cloud in case you lose or change your phone.
Finally, KlikR is more than a universal remote. KlikR comes equipped with voice control so you can give commands directly to your smartphone. For example you can instruct the app to “Turn on the TV” or “Change the channel”. KlikR also has optional smart pausing and muting in case you get a phone call while you are watching a movie.
It has a range of 30 feet (10 meters) whereas traditional remotes are workable within 15 feet (five meters). The range they are referring to here is the Bluetooth protocol. KlikR uses low energy Bluetooth 4.0, but requires a connection to be established when you turn on the app, takes under 5 secs.
Physical dimensions are 32mm X 32, mm X 9.5 mm, it weighs 10 grams, battery life is about 6 months or 100 clicks per day.
Where it lacks
Here’s the “Kicker” though, the Klikr can only work with 1 remote. I initially thought it could work with multiple devices and was trying to add more remotes before heading over to the FAQ to verify that it could only work with a single remote. At over $30 for 1, the sum quickly adds up if I want to deploy any semblance of a smart home. There’s also the issue on batteries. With multiple Klickrs, the need to replace batteries every 6 months or so, sounds rather inconvenient to me. When compared to other smart IR control systems, like the Xiaomi IR control, Broadlink RM Mini 3, and the Logitech Harmony systems, this design feature or “lack thereof”, is a stark contrast. Klikr calls these devices Hub. They explain that Hubs are not cheap, bulky, wired, desktop and only take care of one room. Well, Hubs have improved significantly too, and I will leave it to you to decide.
Klikr for now is also limited to its own ecosystem. There is no available API for other smart home platforms to interface.
I tried “tricking” the Klikr system to control multiple devices. It’s possible but doesn’t work well. As mentioned, the Klikr app doesn’t allow you to define your own templates, so while you can assign other remote commands, it all gets rather confusing. There’s also the IR range. The IR Blaster on the Klikr is uni-directional and has a limited width. So you would need the Klickr to look at all your IR device sensors, which can be challenging. It’s part of the design constraints. In order to make it battery operated, and to last a decent period of time, they had to reduce the number of IR diodes.
I think the Klickr concept is rather brilliant, but the cost of ownership is significant. I also think connection time to the Bluetooth remote could be an issue. It may not be so bad for a single device, but it would be painful if I want to watch a movie, and …
- Select TV remote
- Wait 3 seconds
- Turn on TV, switch input to HDMI
- Return to menu page, select Blu Ray Player / Android Box
- Wait 3 seconds
- Press Power On, etc
- Return to menu page, switch to AV Hifi
- Wait 3 seconds
- Press Power On, switch to HDMI ARC / Digital In
You get the picture. The same scenario on the Broadlink RM Mini 3 just require a single button press. On that note, I read that there would be upgrade feature coming, to allow controlling TV, DVD, Cable Box and speakers all together. This is from the Klikr Kickstarter page. But with all promised features, until they are actually released, it’s well, just talk.
Behind Closed Doors
One special use case I like about the Klickr is that it allows you to control your device behind doors, without direct line of sight. Some equipment are stashed in your tv console, and that’s where the Klickr can come in handy as it maps the IR remote signals for you to control via Bluetooth.
Klikr lets you control your IR gadgets from your mobile phone, but for now, is limited in its use if you just get one, as it would just be a 1 Klikr to 1 remote setup. Ideally, you would want to deploy a number of Klikrs to make it worth your while to use the app instead of just picking up the remote directly. Cost would then become a significant factor. You can buy the Klikr from Axtro, $39, with free shipping on orders above $200.
A smart home needs to be integrated and to work easily with other devices. Klikr is still limited to its ecosystem and therefore not so attractive.