Home Entertainment Remote Control Apps for iOS: GEAR4's UnityRemote

The first of three reviews of hardware/software combos that let you use your mobile device as a universal remote control.

By , Columnist

The most compact of the three devices reviewed in this series, GEAR4's UnityRemote is cylindrical and about the size of a small tub of hair gel. It is powered by three AA batteries, which is an inconvenient number considering they are sold in even quantities. Connection to an iOS device is done via Bluetooth.

You pair the hardware with an iPod, iPhone or iPad by holding down a small round button on the side until a red light on the opposite face starts flashing slowly. ‘UnityRemote’ should then show up in the Devices list in the Bluetooth menu on your iOS device. The same button also turns the unit on and off to conserve battery power. Alternatively, the UnityRemote can be shut down from within the required app.

THE APPUnity|Remote by GEAR4

ICON_UnityRemoteScaled.jpgThe first time you open the Unity|Remote app it searches for the hardware and then starts the Setup Assistant. Adding home entertainment devices is a clearly outlined step-by-step process that begins with selecting the brand and the category (such as TV, Blu-ray disc player or receiver). The Assistant then begins testing codes by sending commands through the UnityRemote.

GEAR4_UnityRemoteScreenshot2.jpgThe Power signal comes first, followed by other commands. After each test you are prompted to tap ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ to tell the Assistant if the signal worked.

If a working code can’t be found, the Assistant shows you how to use the original remote that came with your device to teach the app commands. After your devices are set up, the app displays their controls as big, bold icons that are easy to read on a phone or a tablet.

The basic format of nine icons per page can’t be altered but you can arrange them in whatever order you want and delete any you don’t need. In addition, you can also create ‘Actions’ that automate a sequence of commands for activities such as watching a DVD. What you can’t do is easily find out how to delete devices once you’ve set them up.

FINAL RATING: 4/5

GEAR4_UnityRemoteScreenshot.jpg

The second review in this series, coming tomorrow, features Griffin's Beacon.

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Michael Simpson is a freelance writer, editor, presenter, researcher, instructor, gadget freak and sci-tech consultant based in British Columbia’s beautiful Okanagan Valley. Formerly from the UK, he’s converted from tea to coffee and written and presented on film, TV, science, nature, technology,…

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