Wireless technologies based on radio frequencies—such as Wi-Fi and Z-Wave—might get the bulk of the attention, but most of the gear in your entertainment center still depends on good ol’ infrared. Square Connect’s new SQ Blaster ties all three technologies together in a very fashionable package.
The SQ Blaster is a hardware/software combo consisting of an IR blaster and software that runs on the iPod, iPhone, or iPad (with Android support coming soon, we hope). It’s powered by a standard USB power adapter, and it has sockets for IR extenders if your gear is housed behind solid doors. But what’s particularly cool about the SQ Blaster is that it connects to your Wi-Fi network and can be integrated with Z-Wave gateways, such as the Mi Casa Verde Vera we reviewed recently.
“I’ve wanted to be like James Bond ever since I was a kid,” Square Connect Founder and CEO Mat Henshall told us at CES, “and now I can. When I want to watch a movie at home, I just tap a button on my iPad and the blinds close, the receiver switches to the right inputs and outputs and sets the appropriate level, and the Blu-ray starts playing the movie. I don’t have the rotating bed, yet, but that’s coming,” he said with a laugh.
The SQ Blaster comes with a database of IR codes and is also capable of learning new codes. Additional units can coexist on the same network, so that you can control devices in multiple rooms. It’s available in two natural wood finishes—cherry and bamboo—and a complete package sells for $200.