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Monday, April 12, 2010

Control your TV from an iPhone app - a product review

I'm sure most people can relate to losing a TV remote control at least once in a lifetime. Most likely a lot more than that probably. Now that I have a toddler who loves remotes, I can really relate to this.

Enter RedEye (no not the Fox News overnight show). A product by a company called ThinkFlood, RedEye is a device that lets you control your TV, cable box, stereo...etc from an iPhone or iPod Touch. There is an app for everything now right?

RedEye works by plugging in a small piece of hardware near your entertainment system (retail $190). This device reads the TV oriented signals you are sending over your Wi-Fi network from the iPhone and then sends the same signal a remote would to your devices. So basically the drink coaster size box - that simply plugs into an electrical outlet and not to your entertainment system boxes - becomes a universal remote control you operate from your iPhone or iPod Touch via a free app. Got it?

That means I can be outside, and as long as I am connected to the house Wi-Fi network, can control the entertainment system through the free app. Now that is a great prank to play on my wife.

Wife: "Hey honey, when you went outside the TV shut off and turned on and the cable box kept changing channels."
Me: "Oh really? How strange! (wink, wink to the audience - play canned sitcom laughter)"

Before you toss your remote, click on this. I found the system a little difficult to configure. It took me twice to get it set up. But once I got it going, it was fairly easy. You have to do a little configuration on your iPhone with your Wi-Fi network and the RedEye network emitting from the product's device. Then you need to tell the app what devices you have (ie Sony TV, Comcast Scientific Atlanta box - one of the most popular for the RedEye by the way). It was cool being able to change the channel from the iPod Touch, but not every cable box command immediately worked for me.

Also, my living room is not set up correctly for this product to work.  That little RedEye device is your new remote control signal.  That means it needs to be facing and point at your entertainment system.  I don't have anywhere to put the device where it wouldn't be in the way. This is where you need a table and an electrical outlet next to your couch. BTW, the RedEye device is also an iPhone docking station so you can charge your batter with it.

ThinkFlood tells me that there is an app coming out for the already legendary iPad and updates for the current iPhone app. Eventually you will be able to access your on screen programming guide through your iPhone. Now that's when this becomes really useful. I imagine forgetting to DVR the latest season of The Real World and being able to do that from the kitchen or bedroom with my iPod Touch. Hey, it beats walking into the living room.

* Thinkflood's PR rep contacted me and sent me a review unit so I could write this review.

- Redeye Remote with iPhone/iPod
- Dave Phipps Uses RedEye to Control His 69 GTO COMMENT: Click to leave your thoughts on this post here