Robert decided it was time to purchase a Universal remote for his Home Theater in Los Angeles, as controlling his system was just too hard to do with the remotes the equipment manufacturers gave him. Robert was definitely excited about electronics and had quite a bit of gear. He had a Wii, PS3, Xbox, turntable, Apple TV, Blu-ray player and LED TV. As you might imagine, Robert had enough remotes to fill a drawer!
Robert called a local A/V company to come out and install his Universal remote. The A/V company gave him the remote and the bill at the end of the day and went on their way. Robert eagerly tried out his remote, only to be frustrated by the fact that he couldn’t control all of his gear. What went wrong? Was it the A/V company or Robert?
We see this all the time at Technospeak. The heart of this dilemma is properly setting up expectations of what the Universal remote can and cannot do. To do so, a small discussion on control is necessary.
Most electronic components sold today that are supplied with a remote use a type of communication protocol called IR or Infra-Red. Although each electronic device has it’s own set of commands, they way in which these commands are communicated are all the same.
Almost all Universal remotes on the market today can communicate the IR protocol to other electronic components. These Universal remotes often come with large IR libraries for the Installer to use to quickly control electronic devices. For those components not in a Universal Remote database, many remote programs allow for learning these IR commands and storing them for later use.
Given all this, there are some electronic components that cannot be controlled as they do not follow the IR protocol. These components can be broken up into the following categories:
- Electronic Components that never came with a remote. If the component never came with a remote, it lacks the IR receiver that can see remote commands. As such, it is not controllable by Universal remote. Examples of this are Turntables, 8-tracks, 1st generation CD players, Audio Cassette Players, etc.
- Electronic Components that use Bluetooth instead of IR as a wireless communication protocol. More data can be transmitted via Bluetooth vs. IR, which is why it is the chosen protocol for gaming. The Wii, PS3 and the Xbox all use Bluetooth as you might guess, and thus are not controllable by a Univeresal Remote straight out of the box. (you can get actually get around this control issue with the addition of some 3rd party control gear, which we will discuss in a future blog article).
- Electronic Components that only use RF as a wireless communication protocol. RF is used to eliminate the need to aim a remote at the device you want to control, there by giving you control of that device even when you are out of the room. Ceiling fans are a good example of this, as are some proprietary Home Theater in a Box systems such as the Bose Lifestyle series. Many Universal remote are capable of sending RF, but not at the required frequency of these other RF devices.
So what can be done to control these devices in your Home Theater in Los Angeles? As we mentioned, sometimes there are work-arounds that require additional equipment and programming which can mimic IR control and give you that Universal remote command you yearn for. Other times it is simply a matter of setting the expectations with our customers that a Universal remote control does not always “universally” control all electronic devices.
As Robert began to understand this wireless communication between devices, he also understood that his expectations about controlling his system may have been a bit high. After mulling it over, he decided the only issue he really wanted to resolve was to control his PS3 like a blu-ray player so he could use it for both playing games and watching movies. The only question remaining was how…
If you are like Robert, call Technospeak now as we have a PS3 control solution for you.