Part of the magic of smartphones, those tiny touchscreen computers that we carry around in our pockets, is their ability to extend so many experiences – be it running, cooking or selling old CDs. The smartphone-app landscape has brought simplicity where there once was chaos to many areas of modern life (although admittedly they are guilty of doing the reverse as well). And obviously one area of modern life that could do with some streamlining is the living room. As you would expect for a tech journalist and nerd, I have many many boxes in my living room all with new and exciting ways of piping season two of Louie to my TV. As you might not expect, I have at least 4 universal remote controls – none of which I actually use. As someone with a very low tolerance for fiddly remote control set ups (who will bizarrely however, happily spend hours tweaking sickbeard, plex and sabnzb to get everything *just* right) will the Gear4 Unity Remote for the iPhone be fiddle free enough to work its way into my everyday life?
Set up is remarkably simple. Jam some batteries (provided) into the tiny puck-shaped unit, press the one button on the device and you should be able to pair with you iPhone or iPad. There’s a lovely little set up slideshow with a bowtie-wearing assistant if you need help with this. From here you need to fire up the app (bonus points for having an app configured for iPhone and iPad screens) select your remote and then add devices. This is another straightforward process where you place the Unity next to your device of choice and run through a few short tests. It’s a little bit of work, but little enough that I’m not overly annoyed by the process (my universal wand remote control will never be used due to how annoying the set up process is).
The best thing about the Unity Remote is the ability to configure actions. I have Blu-Ray player, AV Receiver and TV, all of which need to on and set to a certain channel before I can do a simple action such as watch a movie. With Unity you can configure actions such as these so they become one-button tasks – Watch a Movie would have all the steps needed configured – like a macro or AppleScript for real life – which is pretty cool and great incentive to actually use the device.
For more information head to Gear 4.