Review: The Pulse-Eight USB CEC Adapter from GoRite

I think I made it clear in some of my recent posts I’m a huge fan of CEC when it’s combined with Kodi.  I love using my NUCs as home theater PCs, but it can be a pain to add another remote to your setup. If you use Kodi as your home theater interface, CEC solves that problem beautifully by letting your TV remote do double-duty.

The “Problem”

I’m a fan of GoRite’s CEC lids. Powered by Pulse-Eight CEC modules, they offer an elegant “built-in” feel, and add an extra USB port for good measure. GoRite offers the modules by themselves and they’re equally impressive, as they are 100% internal and don’t change the look of your NUC at all. They’re so well integrated with Kodi there’s literally no configuration in the software. Once they’re connected, they just work.  All that being said, they do have some limitations.

  • Installation: both require cracking open your NUC and wiring things up, and because of that they’re somewhat model-specific. They come with two sets of cables, but are still limited to only certain models within each generation.
  • Some are harder than others: let’s not forget that the 5th gen lid/module means soldering directly onto the NUC motherboard (yikes!), something I haven’t talked myself into just yet.
  • They aren’t exactly “upgrade friendly”: let’s say (and I’m just talking crazy here) someday you decide to upgrade to a newer model?  You may be stuck with a CEC module that you can’t take with you.
  • Certain models can’t handle them: there are some NUCs that flat-out can’t use them at all.  The NUC5PGYH, for example, is a fantastic entry-level home theater PC. But if you want CEC inside, you’re out of luck. The same is true for the older but also “home theater noobe”-friendly DN2820 series.  Neither has an option for an internal CEC module.

GoRite’s Solution

So if you don’t have the right model of NUC, or (heaven forbid) don’t have a NUC at all, you’re out of luck, right?  Well…not really. Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you the Pulse-Eight USB HDMI CEC Adapter from GoRite.

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Um…tadaaaa….?

Doesn’t look like much, does it? Well, don’t be fooled…this little box (and I do mean little) solves every one of the problems I just mentioned. At first I was a little concerned that an inline HDMI adapter wouldn’t offer the same great performance the other modules from GoRite do. But I was pleasantly surprised. It is every bit the plug & play, full-featured experience the others are.  I attached this to my NUC5PGYH in my bedroom, booted into Kodi, and that was pretty much it. Kodi detected and connected (working on my rap career) and just like that, my Vizio remote took over the NUC.  Can’t ask for more than that! No videos this time; you’ve seen it all before.  But trust me when I say it works.

Good things Come in Small Packages

To give you an idea of how small the module is, here it is next to one of my flash drives:

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The adapter comes with two cables, both just a few inches long: a male-to-male HDMI cable and a mini-B USB cable.

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Yes, I stole the picture from their website…don’t think they’ll mind.

 

Hooking it Up

Connecting the adapter is super simple: attach the USB cable to the USB port (duh), and the short HDMI cable to the output port. Once that’s done, you just connect the other end of the short HDMI cable to your NUC (or other HTPC) and the HDMI cable from your TV to the input port on the module. And that’s all their is to it.  If this is your first time using CEC, you’ll likely need to go into your TVs menu and connect to the NUC, but beyond that this is as hands-off as you get. Your CEC remote should now control the NUC.

I played around in Kodi for a while over the course of a couple of days and everything was rock-solid. Whenever I turned on the NUC the TV immediately switched to the right input and the remote worked without a glitch.  It doesn’t get much better.

What’s a Little Wiring Between Friends?

Having said that, there is a trade-off here: you lose the clean look of the other GoRite options. With the CEC lid or the internal module, there’s nothing outside of the NUC. With this one, you have to sacrifice the aesthetics a bit. You have a box with not one, not two, but three cables hanging off the back of your teeny-tiny little PC.  In my case it didn’t make a difference; the NUC is positioned in such a way that the cables are all hidden:

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My wife’s jewelry box provides excellent cover

 

The cables may bother you, they may not. But what you get in return is (in my opinion) more than worth it.You get the functionality, convenience, and simplicity of CEC, along with full compatibility with pretty much any PC with an HDMI port. You’re not stuck with one NUC, and you don’t even have to leave it connected. If you have multiple NUCs, you can easily swap this little guy around for maximum use.

Choices

GoRite’s got the right idea here; they give you plenty of options to choose from if you want CEC on your NUC:

  • Don’t want your slip to show? No problem, go with the internal CEC module for your NUC model.  I see some internal wires (and possibly some light soldering) in your future.
  • Want to add a USB port along with CEC, and also give your NUC a sexy new top? Snap on the right CEC lid, wire it up, and you’re set.
  • Don’t want to work under the hood, and/or want to be able to switch between NUCs? Bingo, this guy’s got you covered.

The Verdict

I can’t help but love this little box.  Tucked neatly away behind my NUC, it’s like the perfect little upgrade. If my NUC was a car, this would be like going from manual to power windows.  I may blather on about CEC a little too much, and I’m dangerously close to becoming a GoRite fanboy:

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Still waiting for that live double album

But this module makes the CEC upgrade a no-brainer; I don’t have to worry about switching between NUCs (something I do pretty often), and having a single remote for everything makes me happy.

Once again…well done!

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