SideClick Remotes – Review

Like a lot of people, I’m in remote control overload.  One remote for the TV, one for the audio, one for the BluRay player, one for the streaming box, and yet another for an HDMI switch to tie it all together.  And not only is this setup convoluted, but it’s not even that unusual. Everything comes with a remote these days, and too often you only need one or two buttons on each for your daily life.

Lots of solutions have been posed for this problem, but so far, I’ve not been satisfied with any of them.  Cheap Universal Remotes tend to not support peripherals like switches, and they can’t be truly programmed– they only choose from existing sets of codes.  Smartphone remote apps are cumbersome, have no physical buttons, and expect you to dedicate your phone to TV use while you watch.  And programmable Harmony remotes might be the ideal solution, but there’s no way I’m paying $300 for a remote control.

All I need is a set of buttons to which I can map the InfraRed pulses of my choice.  Why can’t someone make this, and make it cheaply?

Well, someone has.  A Kickstarter project has resulted in a new remote control concept called Sideclick.  Rather than be an over-engineered monstrosity, Sideclick is genius in its simplicity.  Sideclick takes the remote for your streaming device of choice and wraps it in a new shell with buttons that can be programmed for your TV controls, or whatever else you’d like.


Now, that last part is worth saying again.  You can program the remote with whatever signals you want.  So, if you want it to emit the “Power On” signal for your TV, but use the “Volume Up/Down” signals from your amp, and still use the “Channel Up/Down” signals from your tuner box, you can do that.  You’re not picking from a list of pre-programmed settings, you point your old remote at the Sideclick, give it the learn command (three buttons) and Sideclick learns and mimics whatever commands you want, from as many remotes as you want.

And on top of all that, there are three additional buttons for you to program in whatever you’d like.  Setup is a breeze– I opened the box, assembled my Sideclick, and had all eight buttons programmed within ten minutes.  And although it looks kind of bulky, the end result is no bigger or heavier than a cased iPhone.

When you’re done, you have the buttons you’ll need most often all in one remote, and without even needing to switch between “modes”, and it’ll all be next to your streaming media player remote, which is probably the device you use most often anyway.  Sideclick offers different shells for AppleTV, Roku, Nexus, and FireTV.

Are there missed opportunities?  Perhaps one.  It’s a shame that a remote that offers this level of customization doesn’t offer the ability to program in Macros, as in, setting a button to emit a series of different signals.  Perhaps that was a bit much to ask, but that’s literally the only thing missing.

Verdict:  I’d strongly recommend Sideclick remotes.

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Kickstarting Common Sense

I’m a big fan of Kickstarter and other crowdfunding services, but I think it’s time the internet started to enforce some real-world economics on the idea.  Yes, raising a five-figure sum to make potato salad is a great story, but that’s not a sustainable event.  Too many people see crowdfunding as an internet-powered money machine.  Here are some lessons Kickstarter wannabes have to learn, from a backer’s point of view:

  • If you’re making a product, my pledge should allow me to buy that product.  Asking me for $50 with the promise that one day, I’ll have the opportunity to give you even more money doesn’t fly.
  • Downloads are all well and good, but they will always inherently have less value than a physical item.  In money terms, CDs are worth more than mp3s, BluRays are worth more than mp4s, and books are worth more than PDFs.  You can run your trap all you want about “the all-digital future”, I’m not giving you $100 for a download.  Offer me a real product for a reasonable price.
  • If you take my money, I do expect you to deliver.  Kickstarter might have a hands-off approach to dead-end projects, but I don’t have a hands-off approach to my money.  If your project is funded, you better deliver.  That said, I think Kickstarter needs some form of “return policy” for projects that go so far past their target date with no results.
  • That said, I think most people get that delays DO happen.  When they do, you NEED to communicate.  Tell people what’s going wrong, and why.  I can think of a number of high-profile projects that “go dark” when things get tough, and the backers are convinced it’s a scam.  Remember, they are both your customers and your investors… you owe them.
  • Finally, and arguably most importantly, don’t go to Kickstarter until you absolutely have to.  Wait until you’re at the point in your project when you absolutely cannot do one more thing until you get money.  If you’re inventing something, have a pre-production prototype ready.  If you’re writing something, have your final draft ready.  Video games should be coded and in the late debugging stages.  If the product is done before anyone knows about it, most of the previous complaints would never have been issues at all.

I can hear a lot of Kickstarter newbies saying “Yeah, but…”  No, I don’t want to hear about the brave new internet world, or that your project is a special snowflake.  Contrary to popular belief, crowdfunding is still bound by basic economics.  You still need to offer something substantial, at a reasonable price, and deliver.