What's the best iOS/Smartphone Universal Remote?
No doubt about it, the days of the universal remote control are numbered. The smartphone has its sights on eating up another standalone gadget.
I'm talking about the relatively new but growing class of products exemplified by the Peel remote, the L5 Remote, the Griffin Beacon / Dijit, the Gear4 UnityRemote etc....
There are a number of different approaches, but basically they involve an app on your smartphone/tablet/iPod Touch etc. that sends commands to an IR dongle or a wireless IR blaster that relays to your home entertainment equipment.
As more and more people have an iPod Touch/iPad/iPhone on them or in the living room, this reduces the problem of finding the remotes (we all have multiple), and perhaps also who has control... Yet, it raises more questions. Like, does it support Bluetooth (for controlling a PS3), or Wi-Fi? Should you go with a dongle (easy to lose, no batteries), or a remote blaster-type (less hassle, but you need to have a blaster-gadget on your coffee table)?
Yes, there will be people who say "I need physical buttons - I'm keeping my Harmony", but for many others, the convenience of controlling everything from their iPhone will prove irresistible.
Peel is more expensive and while I like the idea of EPG integration, I don't like wifi or Bluetooth surrogates - I prefer the efficiency and simplicity of IR.
My only crit for L5 is possibly form factor - would be cooler if it was smaller. But it's by no means cumbersome. Just saying.
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In the long run I'm sure you are right, I just think it will be years before it finds a customer base.
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