• Welcome to The Audio Annex! If you have any trouble logging in or signing up, please contact 'admin - at - theaudioannex.com'. Enjoy!
  • HTTPS (secure web browser connection) has been enabled - just add "https://" to the start of the URL in your address bar, e.g. "https://theaudioannex.com/forum/"
  • Congratulations! If you're seeing this notice, it means you're connected to the new server. Go ahead and post as usual, enjoy!
  • I've just upgraded the forum software to Xenforo 2.0. Please let me know if you have any problems with it. I'm still working on installing styles... coming soon.

Caavo Control Center

Haywood

Well-Known Member
Famous
#1
My family room system provided some challenges from a usability and control perspective. The first problem was that my TV only has two HDMI inputs and my soundbar only has an optical input. This was an issue, because I want to connect a Roku, a ChromeCast, the 2nd Zone from my main system and possibly a Blu-Ray player. The second was that the low-end Harmony I planned to use to control everything would not work with the new Roku Stick that replaced my dying Roku 3.

Enter the Caavo Control Center.

I hesitate to call this a universal remote, because it is more than that. The Control Center is a box with four HDMI inputs, one HDMI output, an Ethernet port and an outlet for an IR repeater (it comes with two IR blasters). The setup was incredibly easy, thanks to the Control Center carefully walking me through every step. Once everything was hooked up, my Caavo account was set up and the configuration was finished, I was off to the races.

The fact that it is both an HDMI switch and a remote control solved my first problem. The fact that it works a lot like a Harmony Hub in terms of communication protocols solved my second problem. It works very well in both capacities, but that is not what makes it different or special. The Caavo has "deep integration" with a bunch of the most popular streaming services (i.e. Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, Vudu, HBO Now, YouTube and others). It even works with Plex and my XFinity cable box. This integration allows for true universal search via the voice remote. There are individual streaming boxes that offer something similar, but Caavo's works with more services and seems to get better results.

The real magic is that it can apply universal search across multiple devices. Let's say you have a Roku, an Apple TV, a cable box and a Blu-Ray player. When you set up the configuration, you tell it which device you want to use to access which service. The search will pull up content across all devices and services. When you select the content you want, it automatically switches to that source, launches the app and takes you to the content. It is pretty impressive.

Did I mention that it integrates with both Alexa and Google Assistant?

There is a cost to these features however. The universal search and deep integration only works with a subscription ($2/mo, $20/yr or $50/device lifetime). There is a 45 day trial and I am still deciding if I will use the features enough to justify the cost, given that I only use a single streaming device and that my cable box is not in this system.

The hardware feels very high quality and the box has substantive weight. I have a few quibbles about the remote's design, but it resembles a more robust version of the kind of remote that comes with a streaming box. I only played with it for about an hour, but I'm super impressed so far, especially for the $70 I picked it up for on sale. I am not sure it would work for my main system, because it does not give me an easy way to get into receiver or TV settings the way I can with my Harmony, but I love it for the family room.
 

Flint

"Do you know who I am?"
Superstar
#2
I don't know crap about the controller.

But why on Earth do you need both a Roku and a Google Chromecast? Doesn't Chromecast pretty much do everything the Roku does and vice versa?
 

Flint

"Do you know who I am?"
Superstar
#3
The more I read about that controller, the sexier it is. I can see the value for people with the right source components.
 

Haywood

Well-Known Member
Famous
#4
I don't know crap about the controller.

But why on Earth do you need both a Roku and a Google Chromecast? Doesn't Chromecast pretty much do everything the Roku does and vice versa?
The integration between Chromecast, Google Home and Google Play Music (aka YouTube Music) supports multi-room, multi-zone music playback. That does not work with Roku. Also, casting to Roku is very hit or miss, depending on the device and content. Sometimes, I want to put something on the TV that is not available on the Roku and Chromecast is much more robust. Also, I already have one.
 

Haywood

Well-Known Member
Famous
#5
The more I read about that controller, the sexier it is. I can see the value for people with the right source components.
The hardware is definitely sexy and the user experience has been good so far. It does not feel like a $100 device, let alone a $70 device. There are some disadvantages too, though. When I'm using my Harmony, I can easily switch from an Activity to a Device if I need to tinker with something (i.e. switch between stereo and surround). You can navigate to the settings on a source component using the Caavo, but there is no way that I know of to navigate to the settings on an AVR or TV. You still need the original remotes for that stuff. That will not bother the vast majority of users, but it can be a pain in the ass for folks like us.
 

Flint

"Do you know who I am?"
Superstar
#6
The integration between Chromecast, Google Home and Google Play Music (aka YouTube Music) supports multi-room, multi-zone music playback. That does not work with Roku. Also, casting to Roku is very hit or miss, depending on the device and content. Sometimes, I want to put something on the TV that is not available on the Roku and Chromecast is much more robust. Also, I already have one.
Well, you told me why you have the Chromecast. But then, why do you have the Roku? Doesn't Chromecast have apps for everything the Roku can do?
 

Haywood

Well-Known Member
Famous
#7
If it had audio break-out, you could use it as a preamp. Even if it was just opti
Well, you told me why you have the Chromecast. But then, why do you have the Roku? Doesn't Chromecast have apps for everything the Roku can do?
I prefer the more traditional TV experience offered by a streaming box, as opposed to casting content from my mobile phone. Then there is the fact that the system is used by everyone in the house and it is nice to not have it tied to somebody's phone when we are watching TV. Imagine the entire family having to stop watching TV, because whoever was casting got a phone call. Casting from a phone can be handy, but not was a primary source. I mostly use the Chromecast in conjunction with Home.
 

Haywood

Well-Known Member
Famous
#8
I almost bought another NVidia Shield, because it is a fantastic streaming box and a Chromecast target, but the cheapest I could get one was $140. I already had the Chromecast and the Roku Streaming Stick was $30. I was going to just live without the casting feature, but my wife also wanted a Blu-Ray player in there and I still didn't have enough inputs. I was mulling the use of a receiver, when I came across the Caavo.
 

Flint

"Do you know who I am?"
Superstar
#9
I almost bought another NVidia Shield, because it is a fantastic streaming box and a Chromecast target, but the cheapest I could get one was $140. I already had the Chromecast and the Roku Streaming Stick was $30. I was going to just live without the casting feature, but my wife also wanted a Blu-Ray player in there and I still didn't have enough inputs. I was mulling the use of a receiver, when I came across the Caavo.
So, here's what I don't get... Nearly all TVs are smart TVs with streaming built in these days. Nearly all BluRay players are also fairly good streaming devices. Chromecast, according to the Google website, has apps for streaming - I found every app I use on my Fire TV except Amazon Prime which I would have to cast from my phone or computer. So, why so many different streaming inputs?
 

Haywood

Well-Known Member
Famous
#10
So, here's what I don't get... Nearly all TVs are smart TVs with streaming built in these days. Nearly all BluRay players are also fairly good streaming devices. Chromecast, according to the Google website, has apps for streaming - I found every app I use on my Fire TV except Amazon Prime which I would have to cast from my phone or computer. So, why so many different streaming inputs?
That system does not have a smart TV, because I went out of my way to find a dumb display when I bought it in 2014.

The problem with Chromecast is that you have to cast the content from your phone, tablet or laptop. It does not have a UI or a remote. That means that your personal phone is connected inextricably to that streaming session. That's fine if you are alone. If you are in a family household, however, that becomes problematic. It is far better to have an independent device for day to day TV and movie watching. The Roku is the workhorse here.

My use case for Chromecast is limited
  1. Full-house or zone-based music playback
  2. Voice-controlled music playback from Google Home
  3. Occasional odd content that isn't on Roku
I would not need the Chromecast if I shelled out for a Shield instead of a Roku, but the Roku was $110 cheaper.
 
Top