GoRite brings Pulse-Eight CEC Magic to your NUC!

A while back I posted about remote control options for the NUC. Just imagine for a moment if all that was out the window, and you didn’t actually need another remote for your NUC. Well, CEC makes that possible.

I’ve been wanting to try CEC (Consumer Electronics Control) on a NUC for a while now.  When I first heard about it, it sounded too good to be true; no need for a remote for your NUC, just use the one that came with your TV!  No way could that be real.  If you’re not familiar with CEC, take a few minutes to watch this excellent video that explains it pretty well.

It all started while I was working on my review of GoRite’s NUC lids. One of those lids was the CEC model, with the Pulse-Eight CEC module already in it.  I didn’t really know anything about CEC, so I did a little investigating, and I was intrigued by the technology.  As it happens one of my TVs is a Vizio that includes CEC, so I decided to give it a try as soon as I got the chance.   When I mentioned it to my wife, she loved the idea of ditching another remote.  As a tech junkie I tend to have lots of them laying around, and she’s pretty tired of managing the mess.

GoRite sells several CEC items but they now make NUC lids with that include it as well. The lid they’d sent me was for 6th generation NUCs.  I took a look at the website and saw they do offer a lid for 5th generation NUCs, but one thing about that lid made me nervous: soldering.  The 5th gen lid required soldering of a couple of wires directly to the motherboard.  I’m no stranger to soldering, and I’m willing to try just about anything:

weld-67640_1280
Soldering skill level: Jedi

But it seemed to me the majority of new NUC owners wouldn’t want to mess around with soldering on their brand new toy.  Plus there’s that whole warranty question; can you solder on your NUC board and still call Intel if something doesn’t work? So I decided to stick with the 6th gen lid, which only required plugging in a few wires to different connectors on the board.  Easier, cleaner, simpler.

Installation

Here’s where things get interesting. If you’ve been reading my reviews about the GoRite lids you’ll know installation is simple: feed the wire(s) through the case, snap the lid on, attach the wires to the motherboard, and you’re done.  This one…well, let’s just say it’s not quite as simple.

Admittedly, things might have gone a little more smoothly if I’d watched the installation video on GoRite’s product page first.  But I’ve always been more of a “head first” kind of guy when it comes to technology. I like figuring things out as I go, and we often learn more from a mistake than we do from following directions. At least that’s what I tell myself.  Plus that video on the GoRite site should be redone.  It’s overly long and often the NUC is positioned so you can’t actually see what’s going where.

I also noticed (after I’d stopped filming) that I’d been a little too aggressive with the wire pulling, and I’d broken one of the CEC wires.  So I had to take everything apart, splice the wire, and reassemble.  After that, I was ready to connect it to my TV and see some magic.

On a scale of 1 to 10 (one being “a trained monkey could do it” and ten being “get ready to cry a little”) I’d put it at a 4.  The 5th gen lid would up that to a 7, just for the soldering.  Plus, if I was installing the 5th gen lid I imagine it would be a little harder because my hands would be sweating the entire time.

Operating System and TV Setup

Since I already us Openelec with Kodi on my NUC connected to the TV, I decided to stick with that. One catch: the 6th gen NUC was just a little too new for the current release of Openelec. When I connected my flash drive with Openelec on it (I ran it from a flash drive for testing), it wouldn’t boot. I received a message that my GPU wasn’t supported. A little Googling told me I needed to use a beta version of Openelec, so I upgraded to the most current one. After that, everything booted up just peachy.

I fully expected to have to install an add-on or two to get the CEC adapter working. Imagine my surprise when I booted it up and Kodi popped up a message that it was connecting to the CEC adapter. Pretty impressive!  It detected the adapter and connected to it without me so much as asking it to.

Enabling CEC on the TV is as easy as it gets: go to the menu option for CEC, select Enable, then scan for CEC devices. It connected to the NUC immediately.

I can’t guarantee it’ll be this easy for everyone; one of the things I learned about CEC is that it’s not always called the same thing on different brands of TVs, much less configured the same. But Vizio has made it a no-brainer.

The “Magic”

Once CEC was enabled on the TV, the magic began to happen. The Vizio remote now fully controlled the NUC. Just like that.  The arrow buttons on the remote moved me around in Kodi. The play/pause/ff/rv/stop buttons controlled playback of video files.  Even the power button turned on the TV and NUC with one press (the default setting…you can turn this off if you don’t want you NUC coming on whenever the TV does). Another interesting thing; the name of the input on my TV (previously “HDMI 1”) automatically changed to “Kodi”, and the TV automatically switched to it when I powered up the NUC.  pretty cool!

Apologies for the poor video quality.  I’m not quite ready for prime time with my camera setup.

I have to say, I am extremely impressed with how well this works.  It’s not clunky or difficult to set up.  Far from it; it works seamlessly, making my NUC a true part of my home theater experience.  I call it ‘magic’ because it’s that rare piece of tech that just works.  No jumping through hoops, configuring settings, or troubleshooting drivers.

Conclusions

Once installed this lid looks great, adds some amazing CEC  functionality to your home theater NUC, and gives you an extra USB 2 port for good measure. The installation isn’t quite as simple as their other lids though, so be prepared to take your NUC apart to get it done.

GoRite’s USB CEC Adapter would be an easier install, but the trade-off is that you’d end up with a box and a couple of extra cables hanging off the back of your NUC. They also sell the CEC module by itself for 4th (woohoo!), 5th, and 6th gen NUCs.  Personally, I like the lid option because it gives me an extra USB port.

It’s not quite as easy to install as GoRite’s other lids, but the CEC lid has a lot to offer.  It’s definitely worth the effort!

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