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.Red-eye  

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. 

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