Remote Controls

Sofabaton X1S Is The Harmony Killer!

Sofabaton recently announced an update to their hub-based remotes the X1S. While the Sofabaton X1S is not a massive update, it is proof that Sofabaton has listened to the critics and produced a quality remote. I can finally declare that the Sofabaton X1S the Harmony killer! Let’s discuss.

In The Box

I was fortunate enough to get my hands on a Sofabaton X1S relatively close to launch day. As a reviewer, I am always interested in seeing how each new iteration of a device improves over its predecessor.

The Sofabaton X1S is a virtual clone of the X1 when it comes to size and buttons. In the box are the remote, instructions, hub, a pair of IR blasters, and 2 USB-C cables along with a power brick.

What’s New?

The major difference between the Sofabaton X1 and X1S is the inclusion of a raise-to-wake feature. One of the major complaints that most users had was that to wake the remote you would either have to use the roller or press a button to wake the remote.

Sofabaton X1 (left) and X1S (right)

I didn’t see that as a huge dealbreaker, but now that I have been using the Sofabaton X1S for a couple of days, I can say that raise-to-wake is a solid quality-of-life addition. My X1 has been my daily driver for some time so that small change is noticeable.

The other thing that I noticed is some subtle UI changes. The font has changed to a more modern and clean one. Plus they replaced the battery bar with a solid bar vs. a segmented one. Gone is the menu to “fix” the activities via the remote. The X1S removed that and now all changes are made via the app.

Setting Up Devices On The Sofabaton X1S

I am pleased to say that setting up the Sofabaton X1S has become very simple. One of the chief complaints most users had with the original remote was how unintuitive the X1 was to set up. No longer! When you open the app you are greeted with three ways to set up devices: IR, Bluetooth, and WiFi.

Sofabaton has made this easier by allowing you to select from a list of manufacturers and then all of the available models. My Onkyo TX-NR7100 was easy to find. I selected it, answered a couple of questions about how it powered on/off, selected inputs, and that was it. All in all, it was maybe one minute from start to finish in adding a device.

Adding my Nvidia Shield and Apple TV (both Bluetooth devices) was just as straightforward. If I am being completely honest, Sofabaton is simpler to set up on Bluetooth devices than my Harmony was. Once the Sofabaton downloaded the code base, it directed me to add the remotes as Bluetooth accessories. Again, a couple of questions about powering them on and off (I set them to always on) and I was done.

I think the Sofabaton is the Harmony killer! Sure, Sofabaton’s original setup process (two years ago) was pretty rough. However, they have continually refined the app and process, and it is pretty seamless. Of course, there are those that will claim that Harmony’s setup is better. I disagree. I had to troubleshoot my Harmony far more with my Bluetooth devices than the X1S. They may be more familiar with the Harmony process, but I found the Sofabaton X1S much better.

Creating Activities On The Sofabaton X1S

Creating activities on the original Sofabaton X1 was its weak point. The process was not intuitive, and after everything was set up, you had to go back in and tweak things like inputs or power on/off settings.

That is a thing of the past. To add an activity to the Sofabaton X1S, you select the devices you use for that activity, select inputs, and that’s it. To say that the setup process is on par with Harmony is not an exaggeration. Sofabaton has refined that part of the process to where it is seamless.

The Sofabaton is not without its shortcomings. I did have a small issue with my Xbox inputs. I have my Xbox connected directly into my TV, with eARC back to my Onkyo. My TV input was not recognized by the Sofabaton. That said, all I did was go into the repair menu, choose to learn the command, and point my Onkyo remote at the hub and learn the command. What’s better, is that I submitted the fix to Sofabaton, so any future users will have my code! That’s pretty darn awesome.

What The Sofabaton X1S Can’t Do

I think it’s clear that I am a fan of the Sofabaton X1S, but I need to be objective in my reviews. If there is one flaw it’s that my Philips Hue lights don’t have the same functionality as with my Harmony.

The Sofabaton X1S can find and add the lights I have, but they can’t use scenes (automated levels/colors), which is the one thing my Harmony can do that the X1S can’t. However, I linked my lighting to my Google Home, so I don’t need my remote to control my lighting.

I am confident that Sofabaton will figure this one out though. Sofabaton went from having no Philips Hue functionality to being able to control individual lights, so they are getting closer. Once they close the smart device loop, they will stomp all over Harmony (in my home theater)!

Our Take

I am ready to declare the Sofabaton X1S is the Harmony killer! I know this will peeve off Reddit who isn’t ready to admit that an upstart like Sofabaton has pretty much bested Harmony in only a few years.

Yes, I can fully admit that Sofabaton is only 98% of the way to Harmony territory. Once they figure out the smart lights/plugs, they will surpass Harmony. The only other players in the market are expensive, pay-to-play options like Control-4 which are dealer-locked. If you want something that will control your gear and provide macros and activities, the Sofabaton X1S is on my list of must-haves for 2024.

Our Verdict: Get it!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *