Following is a letter that was forwarded to Starkey a year ago last May through my audiologist. It summarizes the issues I had with the original Surflink remote. The new Mobile Surflink Remote solves virtually all the issues I had, mostly by improving the communication with the aids so the L and R don’t get out of sync any more.
Suggestions for Improving Starkey SurfLink Remote Control
May 8, 2011
Improve the range and reliability of communicating with the HA’s
Many times the remote will communicate with one aid but not the other. I have used three samples of the remote and all three suffer from this problem to some extent. It happens changing memories and changing volume. It is not reliable when holding it in my lap when sitting. I can get reliable communication by centering the remote in front of my face and very close to my face. This is not a solution, however, as it’s quite embarrassing to do this in front of people such as at a concert or play. When at a concert I use the buttons on the HA’s as this is less noticeable than putting the remote up to my face.
Sequence the audible indicators
When using the remote to change either memory or volume, the audible indicators occur almost simultaneously in both ears. This makes it very difficult to tell if the change happened to both ears, especially when other sounds are present such as at a concert or play. This is not a problem when pressing the physical buttons on the HA’s as the indicators are sequenced, i.e., first the left HA followed by the right HA. This makes it very easy to tell if the change happened to both HA’s, even if I can’t understand the change in the presence of other sounds.
Add visual feedback
The remote should have a visual display of the status of each HA, showing both the memory number and volume position. This is especially important when in the presence of other sounds which make the audible indicators less useful or unusable. The visual display should not be distractingly bright. An LCD display can work fine. The Resound remote control has such a display and it works fine.
Eliminate flashing red and blue lights
These lights serve no useful function other than showing the position of the top switch that selects which HA is to be controlled. Since I can easily see or feel the switch position, the lights are redundant. They are also very distracting to others around me, drawing attention to me when I don’t want it – such as in a dark theater. Also, both lights flash whenever any button is pressed, regardless of success of the intended communication. They also use battery power.
Have user-replaceable batteries
I have no idea how long the batteries last, but it bothers me that they are apparently not user-replaceable.
Because of the above issues, I have relegated my SurfLink remote control to my home theater. I use it as it is the only way to turn on media streaming using my SurfLink media streamer. As a suggestion I would add the ability to enter streaming mode using the HA’s. I can mute the HA’s by depressing and holding the button on my right HA. Why can’t I enter streaming mode by doing the same thing on my left HA? This functionality might currently exist, and if so I apologize.
If the range and reliability were improved (suggestion #1), suggestions 2, 3, and 4 would be less important.
(Name and address removed)
Owner of the following Starkey devices:
S Series Wi i110 RIC hearing aids
SurfLink Media Streamer
SurfLink Remote Control
The new Surflink Mobile is really reliable. I have used it several times at dark concerts and I can use it so nobody thinks I’m texting like they used to with the prior remote. I have yet to experience it communicating with one aid and not the other. This was a common occurrance before.The only issue I have with it is the life of the rechargeable battery when using bluetooth. Since I don’t use bluetooth too much, it isn’t much of an issue for me. Bluetooth is not used at all for communication with the hearing aids. The more reliable RF is used to communicate with the HA’s. Bluetooth is used with wireless connections from the remote to bluetooth devices such as mobile phones, iPads, laptops, and other bluetooth equipped devices. But, it is not used in communicating from the remote to the hearing aids.
The best new feature is the ability to use the built-in microphones in the remote to help in problem areas. I just lay it on the table at a restaurant, put it in focused (rather than omni) mode, point it at the person I want to hear and voila! I can hear that person really great in noisy restaurants. The same would also work in meetings, or even point it at the TV to make it more understandable.
By the way, all features work just fine while the device is charging, with the exception of wired streaming that uses the same micro usb connection.
That’s all I can think of at the moment, but I’ll be glad to answer any questions you might have.