Clear the Clutter

Beacon Universal Remote Control

CES You’ve got umpteen remote controls in your living room, and you always seem to lose the one you need. Sound familiar?

We have this problem at our house, and while there are many solutions available that can consolidate your remote control codes into a single remote control, Griffin Technology showed a product at CES that may be the best so far. It works with an iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch.

The product is called the Beacon Universal Remote Control System. Yes, it’s a mouthful. And no, it doesn’t make a decent acronym — BURCS. It is, however, a well thought-through product.

Other remote control solutions attach directly to your iPhone, which makes the iPhone much heavier. And you have to remember to attach it each time. Or possibly even find it, like one of your remote controls.

The Beacon is an intermediary device that translates the signals between your iOS device and your various other devices. The intermediary device uses the customary IR (Infrared) technology to send the commands to the other devices, but uses Bluetooth to receive the commands from your iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch.

You install Dijit’s Universal Remote app, a free download from the App Store, and use it to select the manufacturer-specific codes for your devices. Once that task is complete, you can configure control layouts for different functions, such as listening to music, playing a DVD, or watching a television channel.

One potential issue could be the placement of the Beacon. In theory, it would need to have a line-of-sight to all your IR-based devices. A coffee table in the middle of the room would be ideal.

I asked a Griffin rep how critical placement would be if you couldn’t place the Beacon into the middle of the room. I was told that the light signals tend to bounce off walls, so it shouldn’t be a problem. I wasn’t able to test the viability of the bouncing light waves in the CES booth, but suspect that placement may still be important for this type of product.

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