HomeReviewAre remotes still relevant? SofaBaton X1S

Are remotes still relevant? SofaBaton X1S

It's a remote, a smart remote

I don’t even own a TV or a typical media cabinet for that matter, and yet my home is littered with random and often inexpensive remotes to control projectors, soundbars, random RGB lights and devices. When SofaBaton emailed me about trying one of their universal remotes, I said yes to their SofaBaton X1S (AmazonUK|AmazonUS). After all, I may not have a TV, but I have a sofa – which makes me at least 50% qualified to conduct this review!

Read on before I go wild with more puns!

Claim 20% of your Sofabaton X1S on their store:
Buy on Sofabaton Store and use code EnoughTech
Get extra 10% off on Amazon:
Buy on AmazonUK and use code EnoughTech
Buy on Amazon US and use code EnoughTech

Dealing with remotes in 2024

Perhaps, I got it all wrong. For the last couple of years, I have been trying to eliminate as many remotes from my life as I could in favour of other smart solutions like Aqara Hubs with IR blaster or Xiaomi 14 with IR remote built-in. It’s a valid approach, but voice commands are often tiresome and overly complicated: “Alexa, turn the projector volume in the bedroom up” and obnoxious. I have a phone with me at all times (that’s an actual lie, I tend to leave it unattended and I rely on the notifications on my Amazfit GTR3 Pro) and nothing stops me from using the IR blaster on it, except by the time I find the phone, open the app and issue the command – I’m usually in the range of the remote in mind. Having these controls linked to your device makes sharing them with friends so much more hassle.

Solution? Take a look at my #TechDrop to see what SofaBaton has in mind for you:

Remotes are here to stay for some time, despite smart alternatives, so the question is: would something like SofaBaton X1S fix the issue, or make it even harder? After all, if I misplace this remote, it’s the equivalent of losing all of them at the same time.

SofaBaton X1S

SofaBaton X1S (AmazonUK|AmazonUS) remote feels nice in hand and getting through the menus on the LCD is pretty fun thanks to the textured scroll wheel. All, but colour-coded buttons come with a highlight function for night operations, so you don’t have to remember the layout to use the remote at night. Apart from a very handy locate my remote option, the controller also responds to movement and will light up when lifted.

The only ergonomic suggestion I have had after using SofaBaton X1S for some time is that the top two buttons (back, power off) could have been placed next to the textures scroll wheel. Placing them above the LCD made little sense to me, as it’s not a position where your fingers can comfortably reach.

The advertised battery life is about 60 days. Looking at the battery level after nearly a month, I would believe it.

Base

SofaBaton X1S comes with a base unit, that connects to your internet via 2.4GHz WiFi and links the remote via Bluetooth. The station is featureless except for 2 ports at the back that allow two additional IR emitters to be plugged in. It’s a handy feature when you want to hide the base but still emit your commands via IR. You will have to be sensible when it comes to positioning your base. While the IR array shoots 360 degrees and the information should bounce from walls – try a couple of places for the best coverage.

It’s not just IR, as SofaBaton X1S supports Bluetooth devices (Apple TV, Amazon Fire, Android TV…) and even a couple of WiFi remotes (Roku, Sonos, Hue). Sofabaton app for the phone exposes the base to smart speakers (Alexa, Google Home) and the typical controls can be still enforced by a voice command. You can look up the full compatibility here.

On the downside, the black, glossy base attracts dust like crazy!

Devices vs Activities

The LCD menu is split into 2 sections (and Settings). The Devices menu is pretty much self-explanatory – this is where you can find the synchronised list of your remotes and activate the configuration for SofaBaton X1S. If your virtual remote has more buttons configured than there are buttons on the remote, you can also access the overflow menu with all the possible commands listed on the screen.

Activities is a fun menu. The app allows you to configure and link various remotes into a single action. In my case, I have a PlayStation 4 which I use Amazon Prime on, a Majority Sirus Pro soundbar, that uses a dedicated IR remote and a NexiGo PJ40 projector with another remote. Thanks to Activities, I can turn all of them with a single command.

Activities also act as a state. Launching one, powers on devices, while leaving the state using remote launches power off routine linked to that action. The app where you configure Activities is flexible, and even if a device doesn’t use the same button, or requires a combination of them to enter power-off mode – the app lets you customise all this. This ranges from adding delays and durations in which buttons are activated.

Anyone looking to take this a step further, once SofaBaton X1S action is active, the app allows you to add and customise LCD-based buttons and shortcuts.

In action

One of the best parts of the ecosystem is the user-defined library of devices that are already configured. Instead of learning each remote from scratch, you can check if someone else already configured it by looking up the product name. This saves a lot of time. In return, I shared devices I configured with the community.

While the remote has the most common buttons, after teaching SofaBaton X1S a couple of my remotes, I found myself short on buttons. Yes, I can still define them as software buttons available through the LCD – but going there is just awkward. This can be avoided by clever use of Actions, but if I had a say in the product design, I’d ask for a 0-9 keypad.

Don’t get me wrong, moments when you find yourself scrolling through the list of commands on the LCD are rare, but it’s something I’ve noticed. You’ll spend some time tweaking and organising your actions to suit your needs. SofaBaton X1S can be very flexible if you are willing to spend some time with it.

Imperfections

Not everything works great. I was stoked when I discovered I could use the remote to imitate my PS4 controller. Obviously, I won’t play games, but the remote is enough to imitate the D-pad and navigate the menus – That’s another controller off my bed, right? Unfortunately, the configuration downloaded in the app works for a bit until I open Amazon Prime, and then it stops working. I haven’t found a solution for this yet.

API

This is mostly undocumented, but when Actions are declared, they can be triggered with a REST request. Each Action has a corresponding link that can triggered to start the action from something like NodeRED. As a DIY fan, I appreciate that the team made an effort to make this happen.

I could easily link a Sonoff ZigBee button to start my home cinema system without reaching for a remote, and with some clever Actions, maybe open an app I’m interested in by default. It’s great!

Do you need SofaBaton X1S?

SofaBaton X1S (AmazonUK|AmazonUS) is expensive. It’s $189.99 to pay. It’s less expensive than Logitech Harmony in its glory days, but to feel the comfort of not using multiple remotes, you have to open up your wallet. With devices with ARC and advanced HDMI support between devices – some of the functionality that SofaBaton X1S offers is already available for anyone with a relatively modern TV system. SofaBaton X1S bridges various types of devices together. It enables the single use of the remote but it’s a big price to pay for the convenience of reducing 3 or 4 remotes to one.

Creating a device to bridge others via IR/Bluetooth/WiFi protocols without a defined standard is a hard task, but SofaBaton X1S does well enough to be useful. It’s not going to replace all your remotes, but it will significantly reduce the need for some of them.

Final thoughts

A big part of me wants to like this. SofaBaton X1S (AmazonUK|AmazonUS) can be a retrofit option to bring the convenience of one remote control to your IR/Bluetooth/WiFi devices, but to make it worth the price and the effort – I feel like the system should span across multiple rooms without introducing extra cost. Right now, any stored WiFi and Bluetooth remotes will work across the house, so be strategic with your base placement, as the IR control will be limited to a single room. You could buy multiple units and add them to the app, however the cost of this operation would probably outweigh the comfort gains SofaBaton X1S offers. Are remotes relevant in 2024? Let me know in this Reddit thread.

🆓📈 💵- See the transparency note for details.

Shop with to support:

client-image
client-image
client-image
client-image
client-image
client-image

Other reviews

Sleek cable management: KYY X90A

0
Screen estate is a productivity king! KYY X90A comes with 14" panels and internal routing for a sleek look. Are they as good as they look?

Small, but featured: Wanbo New T2 Max

0
It's small but packs a bunch of features and supports 1080P natively - close look at Wanbo New T2 Max projector.

Every portable monitor needs this

0
Uperfect Ucolor panel looks great in 4K but there are limitations that you should be aware of - let's take a closer look at this portable display.

The mini version of my favourite gimbal

0
I have a smaller version of my Feiyu Scorp Pro gimbal to test - lighter, more porable but equally capable? Check out Feiyu Scorp Mini 2

Backpack for techies? Samsonite SPECTROLITE 3.0

0
On my second trip to LA, I decided to treat myself to a backpack upgrade. It was an unexpected, impulse buy. It was either that or meet the city of Angels with an old backpack full of holes. Is Samsonite Spectrolite 3.0 a backpack for tech people?

Half the DJI’s price, just as nice? Hohem Mic 01

0
I have been enjoying my DJI Mic, and you can attest to its quality in my videos, but Hohem decided to undercut them with Hohem Mic-01 that cost 3 times less! Have I overpaid? Let's see what can you do with this little microphone.

The holey GravaStar Mercury M2

0
Has GravaStar outdone itself again and produced a gaming mouse that catches your eye with unique design without sacrificing features? GravaStar Mercury M2