|Lexicon 700t Touchscreen Remote|
|Home Theater Remotes & System Control Remotes & System Control|
|Written by Kim Wilson|
|Friday, 01 January 1999|
The 700t is a programmable, touch screen remote control designed to provide wireless control of audio, video and automation systems. Like other universal or learning remotes, the 700t consolidates functions from several independent infrared remote units. Incorporating a customized graphical user interface (GUI), the 700t provides a simple and intuitive solution to controlling large home theater systems. To program the 700t, it is necessary to use the proprietary LexiDRAW, a Windows-based software program.
LexiDRAW (version 3.0 or later) runs on a PC with Windows 3.11, Windows '95 and the upcoming Windows '98. While the software isn't expensive ($45.00 or free off Lexicon's web site) the learning curve may likely prohibit the average user from programming their own 700t.
While you could never accuse anyone at the Audio Revolution of being afraid to learn a new software program, we are all Macintosh-based and were forced to call in the cavalry. However, Lexicon graciously arranged for one of their dealers to program our review sample. Steve Working, from Audio Concepts (San Gabriel, Long Beach) in Southern California spent several hours not only programming the 700t, but personally walking me through the LexiDRAW program so I could see how pages and commands are created and structured.
How To Do It Yourself
The 700t's touch screen display is organized as a series of pages (64 total). Each page contains objects (buttons, text, graphics, and icons) representing specific commands. Pages can also contain buttons that link to other pages. Most programmers will use the Main Menu page to display the names of the submenus, which might have labels such as DVD, LD and VCR. Submenus may consist of one or more pages. The total system memory is 128k bytes. According to Andy Clark at Lexicon, no one has yet run out of memory, even on extremely complex set-ups.
Programming the 700t is a multi-step process. First, the individual pages must be created, which normally represent a specific component. Graphics in the form of buttons (round, square, triangle and rectangle) are placed on the page to designate various commands (i.e. play, stop, volume up and down, etc.).
The next step is to create links between pages. The Main Menu page generally consists of buttons representing all of your components and macros. Each of these buttons must be linked to the related page. It's also possible to link any page to another.
Let's say you are on your LD Player page and you want to turn the system volume down. Well, you could go back to the Main Menu, then jump to your processor page and turn down the volume. Or you could put a link button on your LDP page to go directly to your processor or duplicate your processor's volume commands on your LDP page. The options are endless, making the 700t an extremely flexible tool.
Assuming you are using a qualified installer/programmer, make sure the pages and links he or she has created meet your expectations. While additional buttons can be added later, page layouts are generally more effective and intuitive if they are carefully planned out at this stage; the next two steps are time consuming and it would be unfortunate if it were necessary to go back and redesign pages after these steps were completed. Check with your installer/programmer to find out if there are additional fees for redesigning pages, in the event you don't find the 700t as effective as you think it should be after you've used it for awhile.
The next step in the process is to capture and learn all of the IR codes on your individual remote controls. LexiDRAW's Infrared Library Manager is a database consisting of each remote's commands. Every command must be manually typed into this database before the IR codes can be captured from the individual remotes. This is a one-time task, so, the installer may already have many of your components already entered into his database.
The final step is the most laborious part of the programming process. Using the Infrared Library Manager's database, each captured command must be dragged and dropped onto the corresponding button within the pages you've created. The average home theater will easily have over 100 individual commands, so, that is a lot of dragging and dropping.
Macros can be created to simplify a long series of commands. For example, you could create a macro called 'Movies'. It would turn on all the relevant components such as your TV, amplifiers, DVD player and processor. The DVD input would be selected automatically on your processor, as would the video input on your TV. In conjunction with other automation devices, it could also be programmed to close drapes and turn off lights. Each macro can consist of 64 separate steps, so, virtually anything you can imagine can be programmed. When macros are used, there is no way to determine if a unit is already on or off, therefore, if the macro command indicates a component is to be turned on and it is already powered up, hitting the macro button will turn off that particular component. In an effort to overcome this programming problem, Lexicon is releasing the TCM-3 RF receiver as a companion piece for the 700t that will include 12v trigger sensing to detect whether a product is already on or off.
Since all of the programming is performed on a PC, once the pages are completed they need to be transferred to the 700t. The supplied RJ-11 phone jack is used to receive communication from your PC (although an adapter is required to send information from your PC's serial port to the RJ-11 jack).
Once the pages are downloaded into the 700t, the page command links need to be tested. As was the case in programming my 700t, it was necessary to repeat some IR captures and reassign some commands.
The special functions page offers the only user-adjustable controls. You can adjust the display's back light and contrast setting plus the standby timer which defines the length of time the display remains on after the last time button is pressed. Any other adjustments you want made will require a call back to your dealer.
This brings us to the only real downside of the 700t. It felt strange not being able to make any programming adjustments on my own. The previous model, the 500t, could be programmed with or without LexiDRAW, but Lexicon opted to free up a large amount of memory by removing the built-in program software. This is one of those good news, bad news situations. While the 700t offers more storage than the 500t, the exclusion of built-in programming prevents a user from making even the most minute adjustments. The clear advantage of the 700t is its portability, which means its power is dependent on a Nickel-Cadmium battery, which requires charging from time to time.
I really enjoyed using the 700t. It was great fun controlling every device in my extensive home theater with a single index finger. It took a few practice runs to figure out the right amount of pressure I needed to apply to activate commands, but gentle tap proved usually sufficient. Additionally an audible beeper can be turned on, which makes a sound when the 700t recognizes a command you've given it.
The 700t is a fairly large unit but much smaller than other touch screen systems. It weighs 2.4 lbs. and has a body length of 9 inches. I didn't find it cumbersome to carry around, though it was easier to just find it a permanent home. It took some experimentation to find the exact spot where the 700t activated every component in my system. This wasn't due to a specific problem with the 700t, but placement of my components and the range of the individual IR receivers made finding the perfect angle a minor challenge. The built-in rechargeable battery pack can run continuously for several hours between charges. A graphical battery indicator warns you when it's time to recharge the battery. After approximately ten minutes, the unit shuts down completely, until it is recharged. Each recharging takes a little over four hours and the manual specifies you will probably need to charge the battery every week. However, I found it necessary to recharge the battery every three or four days as I used the 700t consistently for every operation, including changing TV channels. When charged properly, the battery should last two to three years. It costs $112.00 to replace.
You'll appreciate the convenience and simplicity in home theater operation that the Lexicon 700t provides. It's considerably less expensive than many of the popular, hard-wired systems from companies such as Crestron and AMX and far less complicated to use than universal remotes cluttered with multi-function buttons like the Marantz RC-2000.
The 700t can run between $2,000 and $4,000 depending on the level of programming required. Audio Concepts programming fee begins at $500, which is extremely reasonable as other dealers are known to charge at least twice that amount. For you do-it-yourselfers and die-hard computer hacks that want to tackle programming the 700t on their own, factor in several days to master LexiDRAW and de-bug your early programming attempts.
The Lexicon 700T is a powerful tool that brings high end home theater automation and control to A/V systems that are of more modest means. I know of dealers that insist on using a Lexicon 700t in theaters using Pioneer Elite or Sony receivers in that the 700t provides complete, graphical and integrated control over an entire system. If you desire more control over your increasingly complex theater, do not hesistate to add a Lexicon 700t.