Shop for Bose SoundTouch Controller

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David Carnoy/CNET

Back in the days when home automation was expensive, the lucky few users who could afford it would control their homes via large, tablet-size remotes and wall-mounted control panels (think Crestron). Though smartphone and tablet apps have made these appendages largely redundant, Bose wants to bring some pre-iPad nostalgia back to audio with the SoundTouch Controller, a hardware remote for the company's networked line of audio products.

The Bose SoundTouch Controller is a puck-shaped device with a centralized, multiline display OLED screen. (Looking at it, one immediately thinks of an audio version of the Nest thermostat.) It's designed to control all of Bose's SoundTouch components, such as the SoundTouch 20 , and it's included with the SoundTouch Stereo JC system and SA-4 amplifier.

Here's the kicker though: the Controller operates via Bluetooth with a system component located within up to 70 feet, and this means the remote can control only one system at a time. No multiroom control here -- for that, you will need to use the app.

The Controller comes with wall-mount bracket. It's also portable if you wanted to take it with you, but you would then have to re-pair it with another system, again using the app.

The only reasons to buy this for your Soundtouch 20 would be that it has hardware buttons -- unlike the existing iOS and Android smartphone app -- and it saves a little bit of time unlocking your phone and launching the software.

At $99, though, it's pricey for what it does, especially given that the SoundTouch app is free -- and the lack of multiroom control is extremely limiting.