Today's smartphones are essentially mini PCs. They're fast, well equipped, and can handle all kinds of different tasks, from productivity chores to gaming and everything in between. Heck, you can even make a phone call on one if you really wanted to. Thanks to Logitech, you can also control your television with your iPhone or Android device, provided you drop on a C-note on the company's new Harmony Ultimate Hub.
The new Harmony remotes are compatible with more than 225,000 home entertainment devices.
Logitech today expanded its universal remote control lineup by introducing the Logitech Harmony Ultimate and Logitech Harmony Smart Control, both of which feature the peripheral maker's Harmony Hub, a puck shaped device that turns RF signals from the remote into IR and Bluetooth commands for your home theater devices. In doing so, users needn't worry about having a clear of line of site to their components and can even hide their AV gear behind cabinet doors.
Today's geek gift idea isn't for the faint of wallet (or faint of fun). It's a remote control car from Traxxas that goes from 0-100MPH in under 5 seconds, and can hit speeds in excess of 100MPH out of the box, qualifying it as the world's fastest ready-to-race supercar, Traxxas claims. We don't doubt it, we just wish we could afford to buy one for ourselves and all our friends and family for an epic holiday showdown.
You have to really put a lot of effort into setting up a home theater without some form of Netflix integration, even if you're not an account holder. Netflix, now primarily a streaming service, has muscled its way onto a plethora of home entertainment devices, including gaming consoles, set-top boxes, televisions, Blu-ray players, and more. The only thing missing at this point is a dedicated button on your remote control.
That won't be the case for long. Announced at CES, Netflix said it's working with hardware manufacturers to implement a red button sporting the iconic logo on remote controls for "certain new Blu-ray disc players from a vareity of companies including Best Buy's in-house Dynex brand, Haier, Memorex, Panasonic, Samsung, Sharp, Sony, and Toshiba."
In addition, Netflix says Sharp, Sony, and Toshiba will also place a Netflix button on select Internet-connected TVs. The button will offer one-click access to Netflix and underscores just how big the company has grown in the streaming media sector.
Havnig trouble changing the channel and controlling your AV equipment in the dark? Maybe you shouldn't have been such a tightwad and sprung for the universal remote with backlit or glow-in-the-dark keys. Normally we'd say don't despair, but in this case, you probably should. Oh, there's a solution available, one that's arguably cost effective, so what's not to like?
Well, the new Pop-up MicroLite jury-rigs your dim-lit remote with a mini pop-up flashlight. Just push the button and a series of MicroLites pop right up to illuminate your keys. In order to use it, you'll need a bit of free space at the bottom of your remote control, about the size of a nickel. To attach it, you simply use the included double-sided 3M adhesive tape.
That's right, this $10 device (or 3 for $20) needs to be taped to the bottom of your remote. To be fair, the company outlines a few other places where this might come in handy, including the back of computer cases, door keyholes (we've all been there, right?), thermostats, and fuseboxes, all of which we think are better applications than a remote control.
Batteries are included, and according to the company, not replaceable. Sounds like someone's been taking a cue from Apple.
YouTube earlier this month launched its Leanback UI, which is sort of like Pandora for videos. In sort, Leanback serves up videos based on your settings, preferences, subscriptions, and friends on YouTube, all wrapped in a slick interface ideal for couch potatoes with a wireless keyboard.
As it turns out, the Leanback interface is also pretty well suited for remote control with Wii remotes. To prove it, Android Technologies on Monday released its WiiLeanback software, a free download that maps the buttons on the Wii controller to YouTube's Leanback buttons.
"The arrow buttons on the Wiimote take the place of the arrow buttons on the keyboard," the project's author describes in a YouTube video. "The 'A' button pauses and unpauses the video while the 'B' button or trigger button on the back of the Wiimote acts as the enter key."
You don't need to own a Wii console to take advantage of WiiLeanback, just a Wii remote and a Bluetooth dongle.
Bling comes in all shapes and sizes. So to, unfortunately, do Bluetooth devices. Image the bizarre possibilities if you combine the two. One such possibility is Tokyoflash’s new Bluetooth headset/remote control. It’s all neatly packaged as a neck pendant. How very, very stylish.
It’s not really clear what is the Kisai Escape C. It’s touted as a “personal wireless receiver with headset & headphone profiles.” It allows hands free phone calls, and can be used for VoIP. It will also pair with a Bluetooth capable Mac, PC or MP3 player, where it can be used as a remote control. And, we are told, it “displays the time in a new way.”
There are a stream of specifications that can help make some sense of the Kisai Escape C. It has A2DP, AVRCP, HFP, and HSP interfaces. It uses Bluetooth v2.1 +EDR Class 2. It operates on the 2.4GHz frequency. And has a range of about 30 feet. Talk time is up to 6 hours; standby up to 180 hours. It charges through a USB port. And has a 3.5 mm audio jack.
Still, for all that it does, how useful can it be if it’s dangling around your neck? It’s a pity that Tokyoflash didn’t build this functionality into one of the watches it's so famous for.
Slashgear is expecting the Kisai Escape C to be available sometime this quarter, and cost between $150 and $180.
The Gyration Air Music Remote is absolutely awesome when it comes to controlling the cursor in a home-theater PC. But this device doesn’t deliver on its bigger promise to be a high-end universal remote control.
Like all Gyration remotes, this one uses a gyroscope to determine its own position in three-dimensional space. With its position established, the remote translates those coordinates to move a mouse cursor on the two-dimensional plane of a computer screen. Hold the remote in front of you, push the primary button, move your wrist up, and the cursor moves up. Point the remote to the left and the cursor moves the to the left -- and so on. Buttons to the right and left of the primary button perform the same functions as the left and right buttons of a conventional mouse.
You can take one of two approaches with the gear in your home-theater system: Put everything on display, or you hide your components in a cabinet or closet. If you prefer discretion over exhibitionism, Niles Audio’s Remote Control Anywhere kit lets you to control all your infrared-controlled components no matter where you’ve stashed them.