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One person found this helpful
Great internet radio, but we had problems with the remote control
on March 25, 2015
I first bought the Grace Digital "Innovator X" tabletop internet 'radio' as a Christmas gift for my mother, who loves certain stations that she cannot receive normally over the radio airwaves, and not having a computer in the part of the house where she normally hangs out, could not conveniently listen to those stations over internet streaming audio. Luckily, her house DOES have WiFi...
Setup of the Innovator X was easy enough, although anything that needs to be set up (including setting the time and date, selecting a WiFi network, entering the 'password' for the WiFi, and selecting the desired stations) is done using the tedious method of rotating the large knob to scroll through the alphabet and numbers, kind of like an old Dymo label maker, then pressing the same button to select/enter that character, then repeat over and over for all the other letters or numbers that need to be entered. But short of adding a keyboard to this product, I don't see any other choice to the way Grace designed it.
We experienced no problems with connectivity, dropouts, etc; and the radio looks and sounds very good, and has a nice quality feel to it. The case is particle board with a matte black finish, and it feels substantial. I can't say whether the wooden construction helps the sound quality much, but I am certain that it does not hurt it either.
The front panel of the radio has preset buttons for memorizing and recalling favorite stations, but out of the several that can be set up this way, only the first four presets are available with a single button push; all others require extra button presses. For my mother, the four presets was plenty.
Based on the success of my mother's radio, I bought two for my own house. One for studio where I spend a lot of time but which does not have a computer in it, and one for my basement woodworking shop. Both locations are quite close (as the radio waves fly) to where my WiFi router is located. Again the setup and connectivity has been problem free.
My only problem with the Innovator X is that NONE of the radios I bought (my two radios and my mother's radio) have good functionality with the remote control that comes with the radio. The problem is that the radio seems unresponsive to the remote. For the most part, the radio just seems to ignore that the remote is being used; once in a while it will spontaneously respond to the remote, but usually not. Mind you, this problem is consistent in different rooms of my house, and in my mother's house, so it is not just something about one house location or one room location. We have tried relocating the radios to different parts of the houses, and tried in daytime with sunlight in the rooms, and at nighttime. We have tried with room lighting off and on. We have used digital cameras and smart phones, in video recording mode, to view the infrared signals coming from the remotes to make sure that they are 'putting out'. Grace has kindly sent two replacement remote controls, which made no difference. Grace also cooperated by sending a completely new replacement radio, which they said they tested with the remote before sending it, and it worked just as badly with the remote as the others we had. We have tried locating the radios high and low in the rooms, and tried aiming the remotes from across the room and right up in front of the radio. We tried aiming straight at the radio and at angles, even tried bouncing the IR signal off the walls. I purchased an IR repeater, and it did not make any improvement. We tried other IR operated devices (e.g. DVD players), moved from elsewhere in the houses, into the same areas as the radios and those other devices worked just fine. We tried to program a universal IR remote control from one of the Grace remotes, and using that universal remote did not improve anything. Several emails and voice calls with Grace did not result in a resolution.
I should note here that Grace was, unlike many companies, easy to reach by email and by phone, and their people were always very helpful. But at the end, Grace said essentially 'we have tried everything we can think of and have no other ideas to make the remotes work for you, but we are not aware of any other problems with remotes on the Innovator X'.
My brother and I are both electronics engineers, and have both done designs that used IR remote controls. We even built an IR receiver with a signal strength meter, to see if there was a lot of IR already in the rooms for some reason (which might possibly confuse the radio), but there was not. We used our device to compare the strength of the IR generated by the Grace remote control with the IR put out by other remotes in the house, and the signal strength was comparable. We could not think of anything else to try, and could not think of any reason why the Innovator X radios would have poor results with IR remote controls when all other IR remotes we tried in the same areas worked fine. We considered, tried, and rejected all causes of interference we could think of. We tried the old trick of putting one or two layers of Scotch 'magic' tape over the IR receivers of the radios. We took one of my radios apart to see if the IR receiver had come loose or misaligned during transportation (for the record, the IR receivers are soldered in place and cannot just fall out or become easily misaligned). We are out of ideas.
I did a search of the hundreds of Innovator X reviews on Amazon, and found a few reviews where other owners had what appear to be the same problem as we experienced, with their radios not responding to the remotes. Nobody mentioned ever finding a fix or cause.
It is my view that, while the Innovator X is a very good internet radio, it has some sort of design problem with how its remote works. I can't guess whether this is a quality control issue, or an early parts mortality issue, or a radio firmware issue.
I would like to hear from others if they found a cause or fix for this problem.