Review: Scosche 150’ Wireless RF Sport Remote
Pros: A low-profile, water-resistant remote control, dual arm/wristband, and receiver package designed to let you control your iPod tucked safely inside a jacket or other pocket while you’re outdoors. Though misses promised 150-foot broadcasting distance by a significant margin, works from unobstructed distance of around 60 feet away, and iPod receiver includes Dock Connector pass-through to allow many iPods to charge or work with speakers while the remote’s in use. Best sports remote for dual-purpose (outdoor/indoor) use.
Cons: Tiny buttons are ill-suited to use with gloves. Less attractive design than competitors. Price is around twice that of best non-sports RF remotes for iPod.
Over the last two weeks, we’ve had the opportunity to compare three new accessories designed for the same purpose: they’re all wireless remote controls designed for athletic use outdoors. Belkin has released SportCommand ($80, iLounge rating: B+), while Monster Cable has released iEZClick ($70, iLounge Rating: B-) and Scosche has released the 150’ Wireless RF Sport Remote ($80, iLounge rating: B), each pairing an RF (radio frequency) remote control with a Velcro armband and iPod-mounted receiver. You plug your earphones into your iPod, connect the receiver to the iPod’s bottom Dock Connector plug, and then stow your iPod inside your ski jacket, bike shirt or shorts, or elsewhere away from harm. The remote provides you with wrist or bicep-level access to the iPod’s track, play/pause and volume controls, reducing your need to use its screen or Click Wheel, and the receiver drains only modestly from your iPod’s battery, requiring none of its own.
While these remotes are similar in concept, they’re different enough in execution that you’ll be surprised by how they perform relative to each other, so we’ve put collective conclusions at the end for your reference. For more pictures and details for each individual unit, check out our separate reviews linked above.
In essence, Scosche’s 150’ Wireless RF Sport Remote - using technology developed by RF wireless champs ABT - is a sports-specific alternative to ABT’s most recent iteration of the popular iJet series of remote controls. Differing most substantially in cosmetics from SportCommand, the Sport Remote comes with a small, somewhat cheap-looking five-button, water-resistant wristband-style plastic remote control, two fabric bands that provide wrist- or bicep-based mounting options, and a miniature black Dock Connector receiver.
Scosche’s design takes a different approach from Belkin’s. Its buttons are the smallest and least easy to use with gloves on - some will find the buttons impossible to touch that way - but its receiver is the most versatile of the bunch. Though it is roughly the same size as Monster’s receiver, unlike both Belkin’s and Monster’s add-ons, Scosche’s receiver has a pass-through Dock Connector port so that the iPod can be charged or used with another device (such as speakers) while the remote’s in use. While this feature is unlikely to be useful when you’re in the middle of many outdoor sporting activities, it could be a benefit when you want to use the remote indoors with a stereo.
Unfortunately, the product is a bit misnamed. Though the name would have you believe that it works from 150 feet distances - the maximum promised receiving distance for some of ABT’s iJet remotes - we couldn’t get it to work from a distance greater than 60 feet away, which was actually shorter than the performance of Belkin’s SportCommand. The good news is that if you’re using it as originally intended - as a sports remote on the outside of clothing while the iPod’s inside - you’ll have no issues whatsoever, assuming you can press the remote’s buttons.
Of the three sport remotes, our top pick is Belkin’s SportCommand: it’s the easiest to use outdoors no matter where you want to wear it on your arm, or elsewhere on your clothes, has the best overall button and remote design, and has the strongest broadcasting power of the bunch: good enough to work from a couple of rooms away, indoors or outdoors. Scosche’s Sport Remote is second, benefitted by strong broadcasting power and a pass-through Dock Connector port that’s great for when you’re not outdoors, and limited primarily by its overaggressive name, too-small buttons, and a somewhat cheaper-looking design. Monster’s iEZClick is third, with big buttons that unfortunately come inside a chunky enclosure that’s the least powerful broadcaster, and not well-suited to indoor use.
Why didn’t any of these remotes receive our high recommendation? Pricing. At $80 for the SportCommand or Sport Remote, and $70 for iEZClick, we can’t help but feel as if all three of these accessories are just too expensive for what they are - armband-equipped versions of last year’s $40 iPod RF remote controls. In our view, Belkin’s thoughtfully designed, versatile and legitimately useful SportCommand comes the closest to earning its price, but none of the three is a complete replacement for the best non-sports RF remotes we’ve seen.