Universal remote controls are hardly new but there’s still plenty of innovation in the genre. Logitech’s Harmony line has consistently stood atop the crowd – and continues to do so, but it has a new competitor that’s shaping up to be quite formidable.
What makes the RedEye Universal Remote Control unique isn’t that it lets you control pretty much any home electronic device. (Most do that.) And it’s not even that you don’t have to be in the same room to do so. (Although that’s more unusual.) It’s the fact that your remote control is your iPhone.
With a free app downloaded to your iPhone (or iPod touch) and a $190 base station that transmits IR signals, you’re able to control pretty much any A/V device in your homes - everything from your TV and DVD player to receivers and set-top boxes. Controlling multiple devices is easy to do – though if you’re interested in controlling products in different rooms of the house, you’ll need more than one base station, and those costs could add up quickly.
Like the Harmony, RedEye allows you to teach your base station to perform multiple actions simultaneously (i.e, turn on the TV, turn on the A/V receiver and turn on the DVD player when you want to watch a movie), making it easier to so simple tasks. It also has a few unique features – like a macros button, letting you can tie events to a single button (think: one-touch methods to surf to your favorite channels).
There are weaknesses. The iPhone’s tendency to go into sleep mode after a short period of time means instant rewinds or channel changes aren’t possible. And there are some commands the system doesn’t recognize. Setting up a room with multiple devices isn’t quite as painless as it should be, either – but we’re willing to give the RedEye a slight pass on this, since it’s still a first-generation product.
Unlike the Harmony, though, the RedEye can (and presumably will) be upgraded regularly through the App store. As ThinkFlood tweaks and improves the device, users will be able to reap the benefits without an additional charge.
It’s an impressive use of the iPhone and one that should please everyone from home theater buffs to casual users. And, while you likely won’t be able to get a base station delivered before the holidays, you can always download the app and you’ll still have something to present as a gift.