If the movies have taught me anything, it's that you can steal anything in Las Vegas with no long-term repercussions as long as you look dashing while you do it. So fair warning, Sony: I'm totally stealing this HUIS e-paper remote from your booth at CES.
The game is afoot.
Why? Two reasons: First, it's freaking gorgeous. It's an angled slab of white plastic with an e-ink display, replacing multiple ugly remotes with one beautiful, minimalist one. Second, Sony so far refuses to sell it in the United States.
The HUIS smart remote features a rechargeable battery that Sony claims will last for up to two years between charges, and it should work with any IR-receiving gadget in your house. Oh, and it's pronounced "House," by the way, as in "I'm going to steal this and keep it in my house."
The remote came about from Sony's First Flight program, which is a way for clever types within Sony to crowdfund gadgets that might otherwise not make it to market. It works shockingly well for a crowdfunded gadget, and Sony had it rigged up to control multiple devices and even a smart bulb at its booth at CES 2017.
If you're lucky enough to live in Japan, you can purchase the remote right now for ￥26,300 (about $224). Also, go get some ramen, because ramen in Japan is amazing and I miss it dearly.
I've been obsessing over the HUIS remote since it first appeared over a year ago, and getting to play with it in person at CES was a real treat. It also means I'm hopelessly biased, so take all of my opinions with a massive grain of salt.
That said, I was really impressed with how well the concept holds up in person. The e-ink screen is plenty sharp for the icons and text you want on the remote, but it is also capable of displaying monochromatic photos and images that you can use as a background. It also responded very quickly to my commands, which is not something I'm used to with e-ink devices like the Amazon Kindle.
The default interfaces all looked great on their own, but the real treat here would be customizing everything so that it looks just the way you want. You don't have to do that, of course, but if you're shelling out over $200 (or in my case, grabbing it and running as fast as I can) for a Japanese e-ink remote, you're probably all right with tinkering a bit to get exactly what you want.
In an effort to balance out my bias, there are some user reviews from Amazon.co.jp that have some things to say. I used Google Chrome to translate them (poorly), but here are some highlights:
- An adult toy for self satisfaction (not ironic)
- Usability a single remote control on that summarizes all the way. Also bad.
- It may be natural, but in the dark it is totally useless.
- I can only recommend it to those who like gadgets
- Hard to have (Author's Note: Tell me about it...)
Anyway, if you're in Las Vegas you can try the HUIS for yourself and come to your own conclusions. It'll be at Sony's CES booth next to other First Flight products, at least until I get there.