Replacing Your Sonos CR100 Controllers with iPort xPRESS Keypads

iPort xPRESS Sonos Keypad

Automated Home veteran Paul Gordon is mourning the decision by Sonos to end support for his much loved CR100 controllers.

Sonos have heard the reaction of their users and issued up to £100 to customers to help ease the pain. Here’s Pauls views on the iPort xPress keypads…

 

Here’s an update on the iPort eXpress keypads. Sure enough all 3 of them were a devil to initially setup – in every case they repeatedly refused to join my WiFi network, then repeatedly refused to find any players once on the network, and then repeatedly refused to see my Sonos Favourites.

Each of them took about an hour to setup, 55 minutes of which was with my iPhone on the desk repeatedly stabbing the “retry” button a dozen or more times for each of the 4-5 steps required in the setup process.

iPort xPRESS Sonos KeypadEventually, I finally got them all configured and deployed, and since then, there have been zero issues with any of them talking to their associated players, so there really is nothing wrong with my WiFi.

In use they are a little slower to respond to most commands than a CR100 – I have mounted my 3 iPort keypads right next to my 3 CR100’s in an endeavour to maybe over time be able to wean myself off the CR100’s.

The slower response is most noticeable when stopping playback – the music stops instantly when I hit the play/pause on the CR100 – before I even have time to lift my finger off the button, whereas there’s a definite and noticeable delay when I pause the same stream from the iPort. Starting the stream doesn’t give the same noticeable difference, likely because there’s an inbuilt delay that either device has to bear, in actually making the connection over the internet and starting the stream – you can see this clearly when starting it from the CR100, when the display briefly says “connecting…” and/or “starting…”

Volume adjustment is also subject to a slight delay on the iPorts, I suspect they must go into a low power mode – they are after all purely running on battery, with no constant charge connection like the CR100’s have. When pressing a button on the iPorts, there’s a short (maybe 1 second) delay until the white LED on them flashes a couple of times, which I presume is it waking up and reconnecting to the WiFi. Once you’re used to it, the delay isn’t unbearable, although it can be a little disconcerting at times, especially when one is used to the instantaneous response one gets from the CR100s

I find I do rather like the favourites functionality, and that is something I’d often thought would have been a nice to have on the CR100’s, although the lack of any kind of feedback about what particular favourite is selected via the keypad isn’t the best end user experience in the world, and makes it impractical to have more than a few favourites assigned to the keypad (I’ve stopped at 3 favourites per pad). Alternating through them kinda means I have to stop, wait for the stream to start, listen for a few seconds, and then I can figure out which particular favourite has just been selected, and whether it’s the one I want or not.

There are 2 mounting options in the box – one is specifically designed to be used with a decora faceplate, and since I don’t have decora faceplates in my house (I have CBUS light switches everywhere), I don’t use that mounting option since it wouldn’t look all that great (exposed screw holes etc.) The other option is just a small rectangle of plastic with a magnet on one side and double-sided tape on the other to stick it to the wall. This is the mounting option I’ve used. In use, I’m finding this a less than entirely satisfactory experience; the magnet isn’t very strong, and doesn’t hold the keypad firmly in place. I haven’t found myself knocking it totally off the wall yet (and since 2 of 3 CR100s are next to bathroom hand basins that could be rather destructive). I don’t think it would take much to knock them off though. I have however found that when pressing buttons on them, the whole keypad has a tendency to move (swivel) on its magnet, so they end up being misaligned, and to someone as OCD as I am, not being in perfect portrait orientation jars. I think the decora option would be better in this regard, as there’s actually an indentation that the entire keypad sits within – and presumably a proper faceplate over the top would also help too, so perhaps I can try to source a few of them and contrive a better mounting arrangement.

So all in all a somewhat mixed set of experiences and reactions so far, but it is early days yet. I am however thankful that for the time being at least, I do still have my trusty and ever reliable CR100s to hand.

iportproducts.com/xpress

Reproduced from original forum post by kind permission of Paul Gordon.

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