Griffin Technology's Beacon resembles an obsidian pebble sitting on a black box. The matte-finished box holds the four AA batteries that power the unit and is about an inch high and three inches square. Hence the Beacon's footprint is larger than that of the UnityRemote, which was reviewed here.
Like the UnityRemote, the Beacon connects to an iOS device via Bluetooth and pairs without prompting for a code. To initiate pairing, you push the pebble down for a few seconds until a blue light starts flashing.
Just pressing the pebble turns the unit on or off, although that isn't essential because the Beacon has a reliable sleep mode. If you want to check the status of the batteries, you can use the handy graphical indicator in the associated app.
THE APP — Dijit Remote with NextGuide TV Show Guide with Netflix Listings by Dijit Media, Inc.
The process for programming codes into the Beacon's app has much in common with that used by the UnityRemote. One difference is that you are prompted to set up a TV first.
Once you have picked the brand, you can either go through a list of codes manually or use the Remote Wizard. The Wizard sends commands through the Beacon to your home entertainment device and then lets you pick from a list of codes that get the right responses.
The controls for configured devices are represented graphically to look like a real remote. You can move the buttons if you don't like the layout and the app provides an excellent grid system to help you line things up.
On an iPad the controls share the screen with an in-built TV guide, which looks cluttered. On the iPhone, however, there are tabs for 'Guide,' 'Devices' and 'Activities' that keep everything separate.
If you've configured devices that you don't use, it is easy to delete them in the same way that you delete apps from an iOS device's Home screen. The app's Settings menu is minimal, though, making it harder to find some configuration options than it is with the UnityRemote.
Although this article focuses on iOS-compatible devices, there is a separate Griffin Beacon available for Android devices.
The upcoming third review in this series will look at ThinkFlood's RedEye.