It came in a well-designed little box, with everything you need to get up and running, except for a USB wall charging adaptor. But, no big deal, as those are quite common in modern homes. The first thing it needs after unboxing is to charge for around three hours before you can get started. It can be used handheld, stuck to a fridge with a magnet, or mounted on a wall with or without a wall plate; all for $99.
Setup was quite easy, it reminded me of setting up a Sonos system with how straightforward the app was. You simply download the app, follow the simple directions with videos, and you will be up and running in minutes. After it’s connected you need to pair it with a single zone or group zone. This can only be changed from the app, not from the remote itself. You can also pick a favorite source. For example, if this remote is going in your bathroom you can assign your bathroom Pandora playlist to the favorite button, so it plays upon pressing it.
I really like how this unit is designed, it’s very easy to use with clear functions for each of the buttons. The app is also easy to use with only three tabs, making any adjustments very easy. The remote instantly reminded me of the Lutron Pico remote, another small and simple to use controller. The iPort has pause/play, skip, favorite, and volume buttons. None of the buttons will confuse anyone or cause you to run to find the manual, a great plus. There is a small LED window on the front that indicates things like battery level, Wi-Fi status and so on. I feel the design is excellent and it works as it should.
The first place I thought to put is was the bathroom as I don’t want to bring my phone in there. Now, I can just hit a button and play music and adjust volume while taking a bath or shower. The kitchen would also be great for this remote, as I often play the same source from there. I only need play/pause and volume, and I don’t want to mess with a phone or tablet. Another good use is for commercial settings where you don’t need to change the source often, but you are constantly needing to adjust volume and play/pause. Although a cheap tablet with the Sonos controller app will do everything with Sonos, this remote presents a more sleek, fast, and simple option.
Battery life could be an issue for some, I was able to charge mine up and it kept going for weeks with no problem. However, it will need to be charged two or three times a year, so if you have a few of these remotes installed be aware of this. Also, it seems to disconnect from the network often, and I got this message a few times. These issues make it impractical to mount inside a decora plate. I suspect this will be fixed with a firmware update in the future. However, the unit does work while plugged in, so you could leave it plugged in all the time to fix the charging twice a year inconvenience.
Another thing to note; if you’re looking to replace smartphone control of Sonos, you could pick up an Amazon Alexa Echo Dot to use voice control for less than half the price of this remote. However, the remote doesn’t need a power source and can be wall mounted much more cleanly than Alexa. A third option is to pick up a cheap tablet, again pros and cons with this just like voice control. I feel they all have their strengths, but each is useful in its own right.
The iPort xPRESS Audio Keypad is a very well-designed remote with enough functions to get any room in the house working with Sonos. I wish the starting price were a bit lower to better compete with a cheap tablet or Alexa Echo Dot, but this remote presents a much sleeker solution to Sonos that I haven’t seen before. It will likely see a lot of use in bathrooms and kitchens as well as office and commercial settings. Would I install one in my home? Yes, I would!