Amazon’s Echo devices with Alexa has been taking the world by storm. Besides being a great device for checking the weather, listening to music, newsflash and ebooks, and our personal favorite, verbally setting up alarms and timers; Alexa is fast becoming the hub for controlling your home’s smart devices. Many smart devices like thermostats to lights to home security systems, are designed to work with Alexa. But what about your older devices or devices that are not designed to work with Alexa? For those, all that you need is the Broadlink RM Pro.
The Broadlink RM Pro is a universal IR/RF controller hub that has built-in WiFi to connect to your home wireless network. It is similar to a programmable universal remote control. However, instead of a single remote control with buttons that control all your IR devices, the Broadlink RM Pro utilizes an app that allows you to control everything using your iOS or Android smartphone or tablet.
However, the Broadlink RM Pro is more than just a glorified universal remote. For one, it has both infrared (IR) and radio frequency (RF) support. Some modern devices like the Xbox One gaming console uses RF instead of IR because of the longer range and more importantly, it doesn’t need a line of sight. Your Xbox can be hidden inside a cabinet and you will still be able to control it using the Broadlink RM Pro.
The Broadlink RM Pro’s app, known as IHC (Intelligent Home Center), is quite versatile. It has a database of tens of thousands of devices that covers a whole wide range of brands and appliances from TVs to ACs to fans. If by chance your device is not on the list of supported devices, you can always use the IR learning feature to manually add it. However, the most interesting thing about the IHC app is that it supports Alexa and there is an Alexa Skill for the Broadlink RM Pro itself.
Using the app, you will be able to control and automate a wide range of devices as long as they are within range of the Broadlink RM Pro itself. You can set up “scenes” that send a pre-set series of button presses with just a single tap. For example, you can create a “movie night” scene that draws the room curtains, dims the lights, turns on the TV and switches it over to the correct input, switches on the speaker system, turn on the Bluray player and start playing.
With Alexa support, you will be able to do that without even touching your phone. You can even adjust the volume or switch channels (if you are watching cable TV) with just your voice.
There is also a feature on the Broadlink RM Pro that we found rather interesting. There is a mode that is known a Health Sleep. We are not sure where the health part comes in but this mode can be used to control your AC during the night.
What this mode does is to turn off the AC at around your deep sleep cycle, and turn it back on early in the morning just before you wake up. This works because when you are in deep sleep, your body temperature drops and your body doesn’t need that much cooling. It turns the AC back on before it gets too warm and uncomfortable when you wake up. It is a simple and effective way to cut down on electricity consumption.
The RM Pro is a great devices for adding smarthome-like capabilities to just about any device that uses a remote control. There are issues when using the Broadlink RM Pro and they mainly revolve around the fact that the Broadlink RM Pro is unaware if a controlled device is already powered on or not. It is not really the fault of the Broadlink device but it is something you have to keep in mind if you plan to add it to your arsenal of smart devices.
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