By Ryan Lawler — A lot has changed about the TV business over the last several years: More and more shows are coming online or being created specifically for streaming subscription services like Netflix. Cable companies and networks alike are trying to appeal to an audience with an increasing number of content and entertainment options, an audience that is becoming much more difficult to capture.
Despite all that, there are several things that haven't changed very much — most consumers are still navigating through a grid of channels and programming with a remote control that is static, which was created for a type of TV viewing that consumers took part in more than a decade ago.
A new product called the Ray Super Remote was designed to change all that. The device takes the form of a touchscreen universal remote and takes all the ease and simplicity of a mobile OS, including apps and personalization, brings it to the TV industry.
Ray is supposed to replace all the different remote controls that consumers might have in their households. That's not exactly a new idea, since you know, universal remotes have existed for years. The difference is that Ray hopes to bring a form factor and some capabilities that have never really been available before.
To start off, the Ray remote has a number of different ways to connect to devices in the living room, including WiFi, Bluetooth, infrared, and Zigbee protocols. That enables it control HDTVs, DVRs, set-top boxes, game consoles, and streaming video players.
Rather than messing around with a bunch of buttons, Ray features a 4.8″ touch screen that makes it easy for users to search and discover content available on live TV as well as DVRs and other video services. It also takes advantage of different apps for different input devices and types of content — i.e. live, DVR, streaming video, etc.
While the Ray remote is designed to work as a standalone device, the company behind it is trying to partner with pay television providers to unlock some features it wouldn't be able to take advantage of otherwise. The first to support it is Dish, which will enable the Ray Super Remote to work with its Hopper DVRs.
It's a beautiful product, for sure, and one that (in a limited demo) seemed to make bouncing around different devices, apps, and services for content a lot easier than the previous generation of remotes.
That said, the Ray device likely be a tough sell for consumers at $199. That's the price the Ray Super Remote is going to pre-order with today, although it comes with free shipping.