I went to the world of smart homes last week. The promised land is here. You can control your entire home with just one app, and your voice assistant doesn't try to sell you toilet paper. You have to give up a lot of control to be able to do that.

The love child of an iPad and a remote controlled device is the Ava smart remote.

At the annual trade show of the Custom Electronics Design and Installation Association, I was able to see less weird stuff and more stuff you can actually buy.

The smart home controller is wrapped in a smooth anodized aluminum body and has a nice padding to rest your thumb on. It could be the love child of an Apple device and a Logitech one.

The Ava has a nice, solid feel and snaps easily into its magnetic charging base.
The Ava has a nice, solid feel and snaps easily into its magnetic charging base.
Photo by Jennifer Pattison Tuohy / The Verge

The Ava Remote is almost perfect because it is only available through custom integrators, and it has no buttons. That is a shame because it looks like they have nailed it.

You can download any app directly to the device if you use the Ava remote control, which is the first one to be certified by the internet giant. It isn't a personal device, so that embarrassing text message won't pop up when you give it to your mother-in-law.

The Control4 Neeo remote was designed by the same person as this one. Control 4 is the only one that works with the Neeo. Control4, Crestron, Roon, and other custom integrator apps can be used with the Ava if they have an app in the Play Store.

There is a lot of talk about the smart home, but we are not there yet. Today's smart home can be run from your phone. The manufacturer's app is often the best way to control your lights, locks, or music, but no one wants to control their home with their phone.

I have lost track of the number of times I have sat on the couch and pulled out my phone, only to be distracted by notifications and forget. It is nearly impossible to leave your phone at home in a smart home.

Simple, universal control devices are what the smart home needs. Everyone needs to be able to use these easily and quickly.

Shoehorning an old device into the role of a smart home remote control isn't a good idea.

Voice isn't always the solution; there are plenty of times you don't want to have to call out to a speaker to control your lights. Current smart displays don't have a good user interface because they've been designed to be controlled by voice

There's still a need for a remote control that sits on the coffee table, nightstand, or kitchen counter and is just there for home or music control, despite the fact that in-wall controllers such as the Brilliant Control Panel and Orro smart switches go part way to solving the problem

Shoehorning a device into the role of a smart home remote is not a good idea as they are designed as personal devices. They don't last more than a day without having to be plugged in.

Almost all of these issues are addressed by the ava. The 2,200mAh battery of the device should last up to six days on a single charge. It has a magnetic charging stand that can be used with one hand, and it can be locked to one app if you want it to control only one device. It does work for Apple Music, but it is not going to be an apple home controller.

Today's smart home has been designed to run from your phone.

It has a built-in microphone and speaker that can be used for voice control and as an intercom between rooms. Pick it up and wake it up. With a quad-core, 2 GHz processor under the hood, it can handle running multiple apps smoothly.

A selection of remotes for the professionally-installed smart home displayed on the CEDIA Expo 2022 show floor.
A selection of remotes for the professionally-installed smart home displayed on the CEDIA Expo 2022 show floor.
Photo by Jennifer Pattison Tuohy / The Verge

The physical buttons on the Ava don't allow it to be used as a remote for complex audiovisual installations. There isn't a universal remote that you can use to control your smart home and your audiovisual equipment. I saw a few of them at the show and they looked similar to the Harmony.

If you have Crestron, Control4 or Savant installed on your system, you can use their respective apps to control it. It's not the same without buttons.

If your TV is always on and you trust your voice commands, the Apple TV and its slippery remote is a good solution for the smart home. The reason why Apple doesn't have a native Home app on the Apple TV is a mystery. There is a basic smart home function with the new Amazon voice remote pro and Fire tv cube. Neither Apple nor Amazon has figured out how to control my smart home on my tv.

While you can often control devices from different manufacturers through one app, the dedicated app on the smart home can offer better controls and a more intuitive interface.

This is what makes the solution feel like it could work. It's a remote that you put what you need to control your home onto, whether you are a Crestron integrator, someone who runs your whole home through Google Home, or if you just want a simple interface to sit by your speaker, so you don't have to

It isn't the simple solution for everyone, but it is a sign of what could be. The smart home controller is portable and easy to use, but it is not my phone. I can have one in each of the main rooms of the house if it has a long battery life and a price point under $200. I want it to control my TV and sound system. It needs to look good in my living room. It's too much to ask.