Turn Your iPhone Into a Universal Remote, Kinda

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    NEWSLETTERS

    This little device can turn your iPhone or iPod into a universal remote. Sort of.

    The ThinkFlood RedEye is designed to give you universal remote control capability with your iPhone or iPod Touch. The $188 system includes a charging cradle with attractive blue interior LED lighting, and a free iPod/iPhone app that you download from Apple's App Store.

    RedEye uses your Wi-Fi network to receive remote commands from your iPhone or iPod, and then its on-board infrared emitter transmits those commands to your home theater devices. How did it work? We connected the RedEye to our network and put it through its paces.

    We had trouble with the system from the very beginning. After it connected to the network, it began downloading a firmware update, and repeatedly halted a third of the way through. After a call to tech support, we were instructed to put the iPhone into Airplane Mode, and after tapping a certain sequence of keystrokes, the software downloaded. We realized that no one would've been able to get this to work without the help of a call to tech support, showing us there was going to be trouble ahead.

    Once we got through the overly complicated configuration of our AV receiver, TiVo and TV, RedEye started all the necessary components for watching the TiVo on our TV set. However, using the iPhone as a remote control was awkward at best. And the OK button didn't work. It became immediately apparent that this wasn't going to be easy. Teaching the RedEye remote commands was a hit or miss affair, too.

    The RedEye was fairly responsive to our touches, albeit not as fast as using the TiVo remote, or the slightly slower Logitech Harmony 900 universal remote. However, the RedEye was able to barely get the job done. Worse, you must look down at the remote every time you want to change something on the TV.

    This product shows some promise, but it's obviously not ready for sale. It has a decidedly beta feel to it, where anything that actually does work, barely works. If you insist on giving this a try, wait a few months for ThinkFlood to get the bugs out of its system, and be sure you have return privileges wherever you buy it.

    Forget the RedEye; get yourself a Logitech Harmony 900, the best universal remote we've ever tested. It'll cost you a couple of hundred dollars more, but it'll save you hours of grief and give you a better overall experience.