Savant's Powerful Remote Could Unleash the Home Automation We've Been Waiting For

We’ve heard lots about home automation, utilizing various apps and remotes to control our devices and gadgets—everything from our TV to security cameras to lighting. But no single product has yet evolved to provide a simple interface and a single system to manage it all. It’s still as complicated as ever, burdening us with numerous apps and connected devices.

But I’ve been trying out a new home hub system that has the potential to be the solution we’ve been waiting for. It’s from Savant, a company located in Hyannis, Mass.

What may make this different from the other failed attempts is that Savant is no newcomer. They’ve been in the business for more than a decade, making some of the world’s most successful and costly home automation products that control entertainment, lighting and other equipment in some of the world’s most luxurious homes, estates, castles and even yachts. They’ve now taken this experience and have built a system for the rest of us.

So what can it do? It can control all your entertainment—TV, Cable TV, Sonos, Apple TV, Xbox, and more. It can adjust lamps anywhere in the house at any time, and it can do this from both a powerful new programmable remote control as well as from an app running on an Apple or Android phone. It’s also designed to be expandable to work with other devices in the future, such as connected thermostats, blinds and shades, and possibly even cameras.

The $499 package includes an advanced remote control, a multi-purpose base for the remote,  and a communications hub called a host. (You can also purchase a Savant lamp control unit for an additional $99.) Think of this as the world’s best all-in-one remote that expands to control many other devices in your home.

The sleek black remote is about the size of a normal TV remote, but has a hi-res color touch display, a microphone, and assorted buttons. Setup is pretty easy, inputting all of your audio and video components by make and model number (or by just entering the brand and trying a few options).

You also are instructed to enter the name of of your cable provider and zip code, and then select your favorite channels.  The channel icons appear on the remote’s touch display, and you just touch to tune to that station; no need to deal with channel numbers anymore, which in my case, seem to be always changing. The remote will also take voice commands so you can tell it to go to a particular station or even turn everything off.

Unlike most remotes, you don’t aim it at the TV; you hold it like a smartphone. Instead, it’s connected using Bluetooth to its small base that’s also used for charging, and the base blasts the IR signals to the TV and other devices in all directions. If the base is not in line of site with your equipment, you can place a battery-powered “blaster” near your components to relay the signal. A blaster is also included in the package.

Using the self-guided instructions, you select your equipment and room location. You can even add a picture from your phone to represent each room. When you’re finished, everything will work from the remote as well as from the app on the phone, but the app will work even if you are far away or across the globe. So you can easily turn your lights on and off from afar.

You can also set up what the company calls Scenes, which allow a sequence of operations to occur with a single press of a button. For example, you may select a Scene labeled “Netflix” and the channel will turn on, the surround sound is activated and the room lights dim. Or “Morning” which opens the blinds, turns on the TV and turns on the lights. You choose the activities and the name.

The third component, the Host, serves as the communications brain that connects your remote and other devices to the cloud, using a WiFi connection between it and the base. This connection to the internet is what makes this device so powerful. It can stream music to your audio, update your remote, and add new features as they become available.

What makes this system so unique is that you can gain great benefit right out of the box by consolidating all of your remotes into one that’s both powerful and easy to use. But you also have a powerful home hub system that’s ripe for expansion.

Watch it in action here: