The Caavo Control Center+ is an interesting entry in our universal remote round-up because, in addition to a universal remote control, the control center's hub and its software also functions as a media organizer. I promise this isn't as confusing as it sounds, so allow me to explain.
The Caavo Control center is a box that connects to your TV via HDMI cable. This box also includes four HDMI ports for your connected devices. This means if you own a Roku, a Playstation 4, an Apple TV, and a Blu-ray player, simply plug them into the Caavo Control Center instead of the TV itself. Caavo will then recognize each device and pair the Caavo remote with each one. The device supports 4K, HDR, and Dolby Atmos, so it's well-equipped to handle most of the highest-quality content available to consumers right now.
The Caavo Control Center's bread and butter, however, is its software, which allows users to control not only their physical devices, but also the apps and media found within. For example, if you use a Roku streaming box to access Netflix but you also own a library of media on Apple TV, the Caavo Control Center gives you the ability to search and access content from both platforms, provided you've paired your apps and devices ahead of time. Additionally, the Caavo Control Center can be paired with Amazon Alexa and Google Home for voice commands.
First, let's talk about the remote itself: The Caavo remote is slender, sleek, and simplistic, looking quite modern next to traditional universal remote controls. Its buttons are well-spaced and organized neatly. Overall, the device feels durable despite its premium outfit, which should entice folks who might be searching for an aesthetically pleasing universal remote that'll stand up to kids, pets, and rowdy houseguests.
The control center itself is equally as chic. Its aesthetics match the remote and will probably blend in with just about everyone's home theater set-up without taking up too much space.
Setting up the Caavo Control Center is a complex affair. Some tasks, like pairing the remote to the TV, couldn't be easier—since the control center connects directly to the TV, you'll be able to follow along in real time with on-screen instructions that walk you through the process. Other tasks, like pairing your apps and smart home assistant, will add to the total setup time. Unfortunately, because the Caavo Control center is an advanced multimedia device, its setup process is equally as advanced.
Using the Caavo Control Center is mostly a breeze thanks to the clean user interface and snappy, responsive controls, but it wasn't without its drawbacks. For instance, because the control center "lives" on one of your TV's inputs, the Caavo universal remote control won't be able to control anything other than your TV's power and volume until you switch over to the HDMI input that your control center is connected to. This shouldn't be much of an issue if your TV remembers which HDMI input it was tuned to when the TV last powered off, but if you have a TV that presents a default home screen when you power it on, you'll have to switch over to whichever HDMI input is home to your Caavo Control Center in order to take full advantage of the remote control.
I found that, for the most part, the Caavo Control Center's integrated search feature worked surprisingly well, but it often presents search results in a way that prioritizes rentable content over, say, the content you've got stowed away on a media server. That said, the remote control's voice recognition is a blessing.
Additionally, because the Caavo must pass through a TV's HDMI port in order to work, apps that are built into a smart TV's localized software cannot be incorporated into the control center. This means that the folks who stand to gain the most from the addition of a Caavo Control Center are people who access content from external devices, be them streaming boxes or video game consoles.
And then there's the fact that the Caavo Control Center requires either a recurring subscription plan or an additional surcharge, depending on what you choose. You can either pay a hefty "lifetime service fee" upon purchasing the Caavo Control Center and never worry about getting charged again, or you can opt into a recurring fee, which comes out to $2 a month indefinitely or $19.99 for a year .
Here's the bottom line: The Caavo Control Center is a media device first and foremost and a universal remote control second. While its base price is reasonable for what it does, the Caavo's total functionality will only appeal to people who have several external devices, a media server, and/or smart assistants. The added payment plan is a bummer, too.
All of this is to say that the Caavo Control Center is a solid device for what it does, but what it does is not for everyone. It is a media simplification device that is anything but "simple."