FAQ

What is the L5 Remote?
The L5 Remote is an accessory and app that turns your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch into a universal remote control. You can use it to control your TV, cable, DVD, DVR, and most home entertainment and home automation devices that come with an IR remote.

Where can I download the L5 Remote User Guide?
Download the instructions here, or tap the (?) icon within the app.

Where can I find more information?
The L5 Forum is the quickest and most complete resource for getting answers to your questions.

Does the L5 Remote work with my iOS device?
Yes — the L5 Remote works with all iOS devices, which includes all iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch models running iOS 3.1.3 or later. If necessary, iOS can be updated through iTunes on your computer.

Does the L5 Remote work with an Apple Lightning to 30-pin adapter?
Yes, the L5 Remote will work fine with an authentic Apple Lightning to 30-pin adapter. Make sure your adapter is an authentic Apple Lightning to 30-pin adapter. There have been reported issues with after-market adapters.

iPhone 5 FAQ
Apple doesn’t pre-release new product information to developers, so we found out about the iPhone 5 features when you did. We tested the L5 Remote with an authentic Apple Lightning to 30-pin adapter for iPhone 5 and can now confirm it works as expected.

Will the L5 Remote work with my entertainment devices?
Yes — the L5 Remote works with virtually all home entertainment and other IR devices. Our goal is to be compatible with them all. If you find a device that doesn’t work, in most cases we will find a solution within 24 hours. Search to the L5 Forum for compatibility reports.

Is it easy to set up the L5 Remote?
Yes — just design the remote you want by dragging and dropping the buttons, sizing them, and naming them. To activate each button, just point the original remote at the L5 Remote, pressing the button you want to activate, and then the corresponding button on the original remote. Repeat until all the buttons are activated. The app clearly steps you through the process.

Can I program the L5 Remote by downloading codes from the internet?
Yes — Though the L5 Remote is primarily a learning remote, it also has an online database to transfer, share, and backup remotes. If the dog ate the original remote, check the cloud, and it’ll probably be online for download.

How do I create an account on the L5 cloud?
To create your account, go to the cloud on the L5 website or remotes.l5remote.com via your browser and click registration. Enter your email address and create a password of six or more characters. Once registered you can access the cloud with the L5 Remote app on your iOS device or via your browser to manage your remotes. You may also register for the cloud on the L5 Remote app. Simply, tap the cloud icon in the L5 Remote app and select register. Create your username and password. Now you can upload and download remotes in the app, and manage them on the website. Note that the forum and cloud do not use the same username and password.

Does the L5 Remote support macros?
Yes — and it’s simple to do. Activate the buttons you want in the macro, tap the macro button you want to make, then tap the buttons to add to the macro sequence. Move the slider if you want to add a delay.

Can I transfer the remotes from iOS device to another?
Yes — tap the cloud icon in the app to upload and download remotes.

How many devices can I control using the L5 Remote?
You can create hundreds of remotes on the L5 Remote.

Can I try it before I buy it?
Yes — download the L5 Remote app free from the App Store, and design the remotes you want. When you’re happy with your designs, connect the accessory to control your home entertainment devices.

How long will it take for my order to arrive?
Orders are shipped within one business day. Domestic orders are sent by First Class Mail, and reach most parts of the US in 2-3 days. International orders are shipped by USPS International First Class Mail, and generally arrive in 5-15 business days. You will receive an order confirmation and tracking number when your product is shipped. This tracking number does not provide real-time tracking like FedEx. It lets us know then the package arrives. If you need faster shipment, please order from one of our resellers.

How do I get the screen to rotate?
The screen rotates automatically when the accessory is plugged in. You can lock the screen in the upright position by selecting L5 Remote in the iPhone Settings app.

When does the L5 Remote update the firmware?
The firmware is updated when you update the app. However, there is an iOS feature that causes the firmware to reinitialize each time you reboot your iPhone. This does not hurt anything, and most users reboot infrequently.

Does the L5 Remote have “Activities” like the Logitech Harmony universal remote?
Yes — you can make as many activities as you want, and name them Watch TV, Watch DVD, and so on.

What is the range for the L5 Remote?
The L5 Remote will transmit from about 30 feet, depending on the reflective surfaces in the room, and the sensitivity of the IR receiver.

Can I use the L5 Remote in my country?
The L5 Remote will work worldwide, and has been tested and certified to comply with international regulatory standards.

Can I use the L5 Remote in more than one room?
Yes — the app allows you to set up multiple remotes, in several rooms, or grouped however you want.

What do I do if my remote wont work?
First, make sure you’re assigning from an IR remote. The L5 Remote will not work with garage door openers, Bluetooth devices like Sony PS3, or RF remotes. IR remotes are line-of-sight, and have an LED or plastic window pointed toward the TV. Move away from all sources of IR interference like bright sunlight, florescent lights, and especially the TV. Point the original remote at the front of the L5 Remote, about 6″ away, and press the button. If it still doesn’t work, email us the brand and model and we’ll investigate. The L5 Remote app contains a cloud upload/download feature so that codes that cannot be assigned can be downloaded. One way or another, we’ll make it work. More information is available on the L5 Forum.

Will the L5 Remote work with Playstation 3?
Sony Playstation 3’s remote is a Bluetooth (radio) device. However there are manufacturers of converters that will allow the L5 Remote to work. Even though both the iPhone and PS3 have Bluetooth, developers do not have access to the features necessary to make them work together.

Will the L5 Remote open my garage door or interfere with my cell phone?
No — garage door openers and cell phones use radio waves, which do not interact with IR devices.

Is there an L5 Remote for Android?
No — only the iOS platform is currently supported.

Who is most likely to want/use/need the L5 Remote?
The L5 Remote is perfect for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch users who want to replace several cluttered and confusing remotes with one simple solution.

What is the warranty period?
The L5 Remote comes with a 1 year limited warranty. We stand behind the quality of our products. See the Support section for Warranty and Service details.

Is the L5 Remote authorized by Apple?
While the L5 Remote has been designed specifically for Apple products, and it has been certified to meet Apple’s performance standards, Apple is not responsible for its operation.

Will the accessory drain the iPhone batteries?
No — each transmission uses a tiny bit of power for a fraction of a second. Under continuous use, it would take the accessory 2 months to drain the battery. However, the display backlight will use the same power as any other app.

What can I do to help L5?
If you like the product, please write a 5-star review on iTunes, Amazon, Buy.com, B&H, and the other retail sites.

How does the L5 Remote compare to it's competition?
The L5 Remote has the best reviews and the most reviews on Amazon and other review sites. See the competitive roundup here.

Can someone take control of a TV in a public place such as a bar or restaurant?
Yes — you could always use a universal remote control to take control of someone else’s TV. This just makes it more convenient. Please act responsibly.

Some information on the competition:

Bobby

Based out of San Francisco, California, the remote company specializes in the development of hardware devices and software applications for Apple iPod Touch, iPhone, and iPad devices. A relatively new company, Cremote currently only has one product on the market: the Bobby Infra-red Universal Remote Control device, which allows users to seamlessly turn their Apple device into a universal remote control capable of controlling all the various elements of their home audio-visual system.

The Bobby system comprises both an App and a hardware component. The latter is the Global Cache GC100-6, a popular IR emitter commonly used with home theater set-ups. The App currently retails for $47.99 in the Apple App Store, while the GC-100 retails for around $130. With the initial outlay for the device thus hovering at around $180, the Bobby is one of the more expensive virtual IR devices on the market, unless of course you already have access to the GC-100 as part of your AV system.

The Bobby system is notionally capable of handling not only audio-visual devices such as televisions, DVR and Blu-Ray players, and cable television systems, but also other compatible domestic electronic devices such as garage doors, sprinkler systems, home lighting systems, and security systems. The Bobby system is designed for ease of installation, and its developers highlight useful features such as the ability to customize the look and feel of the virtual remotes contained within the Bobby system, the ability to share both settings and entire virtual remote systems, and the ability to create macros and multiple shortcuts.

However, while Bobby has some of the basics down pat, it struggles when it comes to more sophisticated features, and users express disappointment about these shortcomings. For example, Bobby fails to make use of the iPhone's much-vaunted gesture feature or even the built-in motion detector, meaning that users have to look down at the screen when searching for a given button rather than simply manipulating the device to execute a command. This is a disappointing oversight given that many other similar devices have managed to integrate this essential feature.

In addition, while the Bobby software allows users to simply and easily download pre-configured device information, the database of such devices is quite small, meaning that many standard devices will need to be programmed manually. However, the App page does list the currently supported devices, meaning that users can instantly see whether they can instantly download the relevant pre-configured device information, or whether they will need to manually input the device themselves. Unfortunately, while some virtual remote controls provide a seamless manual input process, the Bobby does not, and users will find the process of adding buttons manually to be a tedious one. In addition, the Bobby device does not allow users to move or edit buttons, meaning that the appearance of the virtual remote is limited to that of a standard grid remote. In addition, the lack of skins and other customization options is disappointing, and has been mentioned by a number of users.

Another commonly reported frustration is the fact that while the Bobby utilizes a wi-fi connection, this connection is only used for executing commands on the device, and not for programming. This means that users have to program all of their relevant audio-visual device information into the Bobby App using their iPhone device, rather than being able to do so using their computer. This is seen as an unnecessary hassle, and one that could have been easily avoided with a little forethought. Other omissions include the fact that there appears to be no simple way to either back up or share the programmed configurations, or to restore them should they be lost. The only ostensible way of doing so is to manually upload configurations and preferences to the MyBobby page on the Cremote website, which is a time-consuming endeavor that most users won't bother with. In addition, Cremote charges an additional fee for users who exceed their allowed bandwidth in the MyBobby area, adding to the already substantial usage costs of this device.

Other issues reported by users relate to the hardware component of the Bobby device. First, the device requires either a network connection, or that users have a TV access point in order to work properly. Second, the fact that the GC-100 only allows for one connecting device at any one time means that only one iPhone can be used with the Bobby, which can be a hassle.

Cremote does offer a regularly updated support section on its website, and users will be able to find Bobby documentation, FAQs, a forum for users to post and answer questions, and online user guides. However, this section is quite challenging to navigate, and appears to be aimed at higher-end users rather than general users, and therefore may not be of use to most. Cremote does offer a ticketing system for support requests, and provides a customer service hotline during standard work hours.

In all, user reviews of the Bobby are not especially positive, and it's unlikely that the Bobby will become the IR universal control device of choice for many. Casual users will be put off by the extraordinarily expensive hardware cost, as well as the high cost of the Bobby App itself, while users who already have the required hardware will likely become quickly frustrated by the tedious programming procedure and the lack of sophisticated functions such as gesture control or macros. In addition, the poorly designed Bobby website will likely pose a challenge to more mainstream users, who will struggle to find the information that they need to answer their questions or resolve any issues they may have. The overall consensus is that the Bobby fails to provide value for the close-to $200 it asks of its users.

Comcast

Founded in 1963, Comcast has become the biggest cable and internet provider in the USA, offering a range of television, internet, and telephone services to residential customers in America. Comcast also produces several universal remote control devices with basic functionality.

The Comcast Digital Transport Adapter, also known as the Comcast Digital Adapter Remote, is designed for use with Comcast's Digital Adapter, and can operate all features of the Digital Adapter; it can also be programmed to change television volume, and to switch a television on and off. The remote control uses two AA batteries, and has a fifteen minute “save” feature to ensure that programming information is maintained during battery changeover. The Comcast Digital Transport Adapter is provided free of charge with Comcast's Digital Adapter. Setting up of the Comcast Digital Transport Adapter involves inputting the brand and make of a user's television into the device, and then testing compatibility.

Comcast also provides a 3-device universal remote known as the Comcast Universal Remote – Red OK/Select Button; a version with a Gray OK/Select Button is also available. This device is capable of controlling three audio visual or home entertainment devices, including the Comcast Digital Video Recorder enabled Cable Box. The device requires two AA batteries. The Comcast manual, provided with the device, includes a list of major brands and devices and the relevant codes for these devices; these can be used to select and control devices. The remote also allows for programming sequences, offers all-on and all-off functionality; and has playback functionality. The device also allows users to assign and reassign device keys. Reported user issues include the relatively low IR range—fifteen feet—and difficulty finding codes for some less common entertainment device brands. Other issues include problems with the red OK/Select button being locked to the cable box: users have to manually unlock this button to allow it to function with devices such as an Xbox, or need to manually map another key to allow this functionality.

Also included in the Comcast range are a number of older devices. These include the Navigator M4078, the AT&T200, the Enterprise ENT6412, and the Millennium 4.

The 4-device Navigator device allows users to control, televisions, VCRs, CD players, receivers, stereo amplifiers, cable converters, and digital audio, allowing users to perform all of the basic tasks associated with these devices. The product offers power on and off capability, volume, channel, and information display capability, recording and playback capability, and cable converter functionality. Devices can be added using the code list provided with the Comcast user manual.

The AT&T200, called the UF4-200C in the user manual, is a four-device universal remote programmed to control Motorola cable boxes, but can can be programmed with additional television, VCR, and cable and auxiliary codes. Features include mode keys, lock keys, on-screen info and guide keys, and favorites keys; another valuable feature is the all-on/all-off button, which allows all devices to be switched on or off with a single button press.

The Enterprise ENT6412 is a 4-device universal remote designed for use with Motorola set-top boxes, and can be used with a range of standard home entertainment devices. Features of this cable-specialized remote include guide and info keys, device keys, a key listing recorded programs, a playback feature, an aspect ratio key, a picture in picture key, channel lock keys, and basic DVD/DVR function keys. Devices can be programmed into the remote using the “smart-scan” feature, which automatically searches through a database until the appropriate code has been found. Manual programming using codes can also be performed.

The Millennium 4 remote control is also designed for easy set up, and utilizes pre-programmed technology to facilitate this process. It also features a master on/off control feature, “tune-in” keys for favorite channels, color-coded keys for popular activities, and a searchable code library.

Comcast has also recently released a universal remote control application called the Xfinity TV app. This free app, available for the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch, allows existing Comcast users to watch television on their hand-held devices. While users currently are unable to view live streaming television on their handheld devices, this functionality will be available later in 2011, allowing users to watch television from anywhere in their home. The Xfinity TV app also includes includes channel changing and volume functionality, as well as the ability to turn to On Demand programming, and to schedule a DVR to record remotely. The app also allows users to view and browse local TV station listings, browse the On Demand library, and filter television guide listings based on genre, network, price, and HD status. The recent addition of a “my account” feature also allows Comcast customers to log in and use their Comcast account remotely.

Comcast customer service representatives report that a number of new developments to the app will also be seen in 2011: this will include features such as integration with social networking accounts, and a personalized watch-list for users. It's also reported that the company will move beyond Apple devices to roll-out apps for Android and Blackberry devices. While many users like the television guide aspect of the app, some report issues with the app crashing when they try to sign into their account; others note that the app is only compatible with Comcast's Motorola cable boxes, with other Comcast boxes, such as the Comcast Scientific Atlanta digital HD DVR not supported. Some also express frustration with the fact that the app is not formatted for optimum use with the iPhone, forcing users to zoom in and out in order to make the most of the app.

While Comcast offers a range of universal remotes, for the most part they don't extend beyond entry-level remotes that are designed for use with Comcast cable boxes. And while the Comcast Xfinity app does hint at having valuable functionality in the future, at this early stage it's little more than a channel-changing device.

Fastmac iV Plus

The award-winning US-based electronics manufacturer FastMac specializes in products designed to enhance the value of Apple products, including Apple computers, iPads, iPods, and iPhones. FastMac has historically focused on products such as batteries, chargers, and casings, but has also released a well-received universal remote control device for use with the iPhone 3G/3Gs, the iPhone 4, and the iPod touch. The manufacturer also notes that the device can be used with many USB 2.0 compatible devices, including cameras, bluetooth headsets, some other phones, and game devices. It retails from $100—note that the $79.95 version advertised on the site doesn't include the infra red functionality.

The FastMac iV Plus pack is powered by a TruePower 1400 mAh battery, and allows users to control a range of IR electronics, including televisions, Bluray and DVD players, and laptops. The device has received positive reviews for its slim, sleek design, with users appreciating the multi-functional use of the device, as well as the fact that it doesn't notably bulk up their iPod Touch or iPhone. The range of the device is also quite good, with its signal strength reaching up to 15 feet, with a 50 degree range from left to right. The fact that the iV Plus pack also allows users to charge their iPod or iPad during use is also a plus, as this allows for increased battery life.

The FastMac iV Plus is designed for use with an App developed by UMEE. This App, called the Best Remote App, and designated by a smiley face, is free to download, and allows users to navigate a wide range of AV products in order to add them to their iV Plus device. Once a device has been chosen, the appropriate remote layout for that device is displayed on the iPhone or iPod screen. Another valuable inclusion is the ability to create tasks for regularly used activities. For example, “Watch Television” might include the television and sound system components, while “Watch DVDs” might include the television, DVD player, and sound system components, and on command would turn on or off the required devices as relevant.

User reviews note that the simplicity of the device is its selling point. Rather than having to enter complicated codes or attempt to synchronize the device with a computer, users can scroll through an easily navigable list of devices and select those that are relevant to their home entertainment set up. While this list is not currently comprehensive, regular software updates will ensure that over time most devices will be supported. Alternatively, users can use the “learn” feature of the device to transfer the commands of a given remote to their iPhone or iPod. However, user reactions to these methods will vary, as many universal remote users express frustration with time-consuming “learning” techniques, while others express frustration at having to scroll through complicated device listings in order to find the relevant product. This is particularly the case when set-up involves a large number of devices, or when it involves devices that are generic-brand or that are less common. Little information is available, however, about the sophistication of tasks, activities, and favorites options, which is concerning, given that this is an area where such devices are commonly found lacking. This may be, however, due to the fact that the FastMac iV Plus is used more as a supplementary device than as a replacement for a universal remote control device.

Other valuable features include the ability to configure the button layouts for different remotes. This can be done for tasks and activities as well as for devices. The customization options of this feature are substantial, with users able to select from a range of buttons, dials, and switches and arrange them as appropriate. This allows users to mimic the layout of existing remotes, or to create their own remote designs, which can range from simple to highly elaborate.

FastMac's recent partnership with UMEE means that the App now includes sophisticated television listings that incorporate television guides and that allow users to search particular television stations, and to search for particular television shows. The app also includes cast and crew listing information, and allows users to make use of social networking features: users, for example, can send television listing information to Facebook or Twitter. This app, however, is also available for several other products, and has not been designed specifically with the FastMac iV Plus in mind, and users should be aware of this if purchasing the FastMac iV Plus based on the strength of this particular iPhone application.

While professional reviews of the FastMac iV Plus are generally quite positive, it should be noted that these reviews typically look at the universal remote feature as a bonus extra rather than as the main element of the add-on pack, and thus aren't as rigorously assessing of the product as they might be. The $100 asking price, for example, is reasonable given the battery charger included with the remote control, but is a hefty total for those simply looking for universal remote control functionality, with high-end brand-name remotes able to be bought for a comparable or lower price. The lack of information about the device's functionality when it comes to more sophisticated features such as activities, tasks, and favorites should also be taken into consideration by users planning to purchase this product, as given that the remote control itself is already considered somewhat ancillary, these features may not necessarily perform to the degree expected by users who have need of a sophisticated IR remote control system. An iV Plus app, however, is in development, and may well provide solutions to any potential issues raised by users and reviewers: potential users may wish to wait until this app is available before making a purchasing decision in relation to the Fastmac iV Plus.

FLPR

Developed by New Potato technologies, the FLPR is an attachment that adds IR remote control functionality to most iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch devices running OS 3.0 or higher. The hardware component of the device plugs in to the base of the Apple product, and is complemented by a free App, available from the Apple App store, that allows users to program the device with the details of the various AV and media equipment in their home. The FLPR is capable of controlling a range of devices, including TVs, DVDs and DVRs, cable and satellite boxes, and more, and draws on a database of more than 46,000 pre-programmed IR codes as part of the product set up.

The FLPR retails for $110, but can be bought from resellers for $90. Users will have to ensure that they have a compatible iPhone, iPad or iPod touch for use with the device, however. These devices retail for up to several hundred dollars; users note that buying one of these devices purely for use with the FLPR is a poor decision, as many well-reviewed traditional universal remotes with greater functionality can be bought for less. In addition, since these remotes have been on the market longer, bugs and issues have typically been ironed out over time and between iterations.

As with many app-based products, the software for the FLPR is in a constant state of flux. This has positives in that existing bugs or issues are able to be corrected, and that the software is able to be expanded and refined, but can also result in the development of new problems that inadvertently arise. One positive is that the FLPR database is frequently updated, with its original middling 14,000 entries now increased to a substantial 46,000. However, users note that while the pre-programmed database contains more common or popular products, cheaper, generic, or less well-known brands aren't typically accommodated. This means that users will have to manually program in the details of their existing devices key by key.

Some of the software highlights include its functionality for controlling devices as widespread as lights, receivers, and draperies, and the fact that users can incorporate customizable skins and icons into the various virtual remotes for their devices. The App for the FLPR also allows users to create macros that lets theme easily perform tasks such as watching a Blu-Ray movie or a DVD, allowing automation of tasks that can otherwise be quite time intensive and that require significant button pressing.

While there are a number of pluses to the FLPR software, there are several negative elements that recur in user reviews. These include the bland and unattractive design of the application, with a user interface that users typically dislike, and the fact that the application is slightly too large for the iPhone screen, requiring users to scroll to find some options. In addition, while macros are available, users are unable to set up room-based programming, an oversight that is a bugbear for some more tech-savvy users who expect a device pitched at this price-point to provide more sophisticated programming options. To users' chagrin, the FLPR doesn't appear to allow for gesture-based programming, a feature available in some other iPhone-compatible IR devices that allows users to change volume levels or channels simply by moving their iPhone up and down, or to the left and right. Users point out that addition of these simple gestures into the software would reduce the need to visually refer to the device when needing to perform these frequently used commands.

Users are generally quite impressed with the FLPR hardware, noting that although it is a little large and bulky, it is surprisingly responsive when compared with standard universal remote control devices. However, users do find that there's somewhat of a learning curve involved with using the FLPR, with users finding the lack of tactile buttons somewhat of a frustration. While the strong backlight of the iPhone makes it easy enough to see the buttons in question, users need to look at the remote when making their selection rather than feeling out the button they want. Another minor gripe is the need to unlock the iPhone and load the app before use. Perhaps the largest drawback of the FLPR hardware, however, is the fact that it plugs into the charging dock of the iPhone, meaning that users will not be able to charge their phone when the app is in use. A redesign of the hardware attachment would allow the FLPR to be plugged in while the phone is charging.

Fortunately, the tech support offered by New Potatoes seems to be of good quality, with an online user manual featuring step-by-step usage instructions with accompanying graphics and diagrams and an FLPR FAQ page readily available online. Video instruction guides are also available on the site for interested users. Technical support can also be received via email or by telephone during standard business hours. A one year warranty is available on all FLPR products provided a proof of purchase is provided, and that the device has been subjected only to “normal” use during that period.

In sum, while the FLPR offers the basics functions of a standard universal control, it doesn't offer some of the more sophisticated features that would be typically available on a standard remote of comparable price. The lack of activities and favorites options are notable omissions, while the lack of tactile buttons can be a frustrating experience for users who like to channel surf. In addition, the “learn” function is unnecessarily cumbersome, while the fact that the iPhone can't be set to charge with the device in use is a source of frustration for some. While some of these issues may be addressed in later releases, other existing products, both standard remotes and iPhone-based IR devices, currently provide these features and more.

GE

One of the world's largest companies, GE is an American multinational corporation that has significant influence in the areas of energy and technology infrastructure, finance, and consumer and industrial supplies. GE has a long history in the areas of electronics and computing, and in the mid twentieth century was one of the major competitors in this area. In addition to its computing expertise, GE has also ventured into the field of electronic accessories and peripherals, and has produced a number of universal remote controls.

GE's universal remote controls are typically lower end devices, and retail for between $10 and $40 new, with most devices falling at around the $15-20 mark.

There are four key products at the higher end of the GE universal remote control range. The GE 24110 Universal Remote with Find-It Feature, retailing for $35, is a five-device universal remote that controls basic systems comprising TVs, DVD, VCR, cable, satellite, and similar devices, and which features an in-built alarm system that can be triggered when the remote is misplaced. The device includes a code library of more than 325 brands, and can be set up using a simple code search feature. A six-device model is also available. User reviews are mixed, with some users describing flawless performance for the price, while others reporting significant difficulties in programming the device to work with their home entertainment systems. GE's other “find-it” remote control, the 24945, retailing at $12.00, raises similar issues, suggesting that programming and quality assurance issues are rife throughout the GE range of remotes.

The eight-device GE 25001 Universal Learning Remote Control, retailing for $39.99, is a marginally better option, and features a handy learn function, a back-lit keypad, and a picture-in-picture function. Other features include code retention, a simple set-up process using a code search, and an attractive and sturdy aluminum design. However, while most users appreciate the good quality design of this device, some note that the accompanying instructions are poorly written and difficult to follow. Others find the illumination feature to be underwhelming, and report QA issues such as the poor design of the battery latch.

Retailing at $29.99, the GE 24986 My Favorites Remote Control is a five-device universal remote control offering instant access to eight pre-programmed favorite channels, and featuring dedicated navigation controls, easy set-up procedures, and a simple code search function. Similar issues are reported for this remote control, with set-up being a common point of contention among users. Another device at a similar price point is the GE 24959 eight-device Universal DVR Remote Control, which allows users to record their favorite shows, and search and manage their television and On-Demand programming. With a comprehensive code library, a good quality learning feature, and an attractive glossy design with LED back-lit buttons, this remote is one of the more popular of GE's universal remote control offerings, and user reviews are largely positive, with most users agreeing that this device offers good value for money overall. The six-device GE 24958 DVR Infrared Universal Remote Control is also a contender, offering a similar array of mid-range features for what is a very reasonable price.

GE also has a number of universal remote controls retailing at around the $12-15 mark, and these tend to receive reasonable reviews in general, although users tend to acknowledge that they are more lenient with these products due to their low price point. However, two devices at this price point that are less than popular are the GE Universal 24964 “Slider” Remote Control, a cell phone-like device that is described as flimsy and poorly built, and which frequently fails to work with branded devices, including GE devices, and the GE 24934 Universal “Flip” control, which suffers from similar issues. Some users complain that these devices are not only incompatible with many home theater devices, but that they often stop working soon after purchase. Other issues include the lack of macro features and LCD displays, as well as the poor quality finishing of the products.

The sole GE device at this price point that inspires confidence is the GE 24918 six-device remote control, a simply but neatly designed device that offers dedicated DVD buttons and memory retention, and which users describe as easy to use, with a substantial code menu that includes many obscure brands. Users describe this device, which retails for $12.99 as one of the better GE models.

Of the cheaper GE offerings, there are few that inspire much confidence, although users note that at this price point expectations are relatively low. The basic three-device GE Universal Remote Control offers basic compatibility with major branded devices, and includes a built-in sleep timer and code saver, but offers little in the way of sophisticated features such as macros or favorites, and sports an extremely utilitarian design, although the large-sized buttons are a thoughtful inclusion. The four-device GE 24904 Universal Remote Control, retailing at $10.99, sports similar functionality, although in addition to its large buttons it also offers a glow-in-the-dark button feature for frequently used buttons. The overall design of this remote is unwieldy, however, with the remote large and uncomfortable in the hand, and lacking anything more than the most basic features.

In all, user reviews of GE's universal remote control devices are less than positive, although reviews note that users should not hold especially high expectations for devices pitched at these very low price points. Major problems include issues with design and quality assurance, and the fact that the code libraries included with the devices are not wide-ranging enough to take into account less common devices, meaning that users in many cases will need to retain their original devices. The lack of more sophisticated features such as favorites and macros is also a common complaint when it comes to these GE devices, with even the more expensive devices failing to include these features as standard. In all, GE's devices will meet the needs of those with very basic home entertainment systems, but more sophisticated users will be better served looking elsewhere.

Griffin Technology

Founded in 1992 by owner Paul Griffin, Griffin Technology is a Nashville-based technology company specializing in the design and development of consumer electronics and computer accessories. In 1998 the company began developing USB devices for Apple products, and in 2002 released its first accessories for the iPod. Some of the company's major developments for this device including the iTrip, an FM audio transmitter, the Evolve wireless audio system, and iTalk, an audio recording software tool. Griffin has continued to develop in this field, and will soon release the Beacon, a universal remote control product for iPhones, iPads, and iPod Touch devices. The device is due to go on sale in May of 2011, and is expected to retail for $79.99. The device is currently being displayed at trade shows, and is receiving relatively positive feedback from users.

The Griffin Beacon device connects to iOS devices using Bluetooth, and then forwards infra-red commands from the associated Griffin app. It is designed to allow users control over their entire home theater set-up, regardless of its complexity, and is compatible with televisions, audio systems, and more, although it is unclear whether it will be compatible with popular entertainment systems such as the Playstation 3. The free app, provided through a Dijit and Griffin joint venture, includes an IR code library for a variety of different devices, and also has a “learn” function for devices not included in the existing library. The company asserts that the soon-to-launch device will benefit from a frequently updated code library, but no information is available about how frequently or comprehensively this database will be updated.

The device also allows users to perform simple tasks such as changing channels, raising and lowering volume levels, changing the input device, and programming a DVR. Griffin also describes the quality of the fingertip search feature as being a key feature of the Beacon device. Early reviews of the device have also been largely positive about this function, noting that the ability to cycle through and “test” devices rather than manually keying them in is both time-saving and intuitive. However, some would prefer the ability to simply type in the device code, arguing that if this code is already known it would be quicker and easier to key it in rather than waiting for the Beacon to find the appropriate device in its database. Other software features that have been well-received include the integration of Netflix and TV guide components, allowing users to select the movies or shows they wish to watch directly from the app. Another highlight is the ability to save desired remote control settings, and to forward these on to additional devices as required. User responses to the graphical interface of the app have also been largely positive, with users noting that it is neatly and stylishly designed, and is intuitive to use. The company alludes to the presence of additional functions, but has not yet elaborated on what these might be. There is also speculation than an Android version of the product is being tested, but there is no information about when this version of the product might be released.

The Beacon unit will run on a set of four AA batteries, which are expected to last for up to a period of two months under regular use. However, it is unclear what is meant by “regular use”, and what the true standard battery life for the device will be. The unit itself stands separately from the iPhone, iPod Touch, or iPad device, and is designed to be small and streamlined in appearance, with media releases from the company describing it as “unobtrusive” and “low-profile”. In reality, however, the device is roughly palm-sized, with the integration of the battery unit makes the device substantially heavier and larger than many of the other devices on the market. Some users have reflected that the actual design of the product is chunkier and less elegant than they would like, and that despite Griffin's assertion that the product won't look out of place in the standard lounge room, it's not as aesthetically pleasing as it could be.

Some users have also complained about the need to have a separate device on-hand, arguing that such products should be seamlessly integrated into iPhone or iPad products without the need for extra hardware. Still, the fact that there are no wires or cables tethering the device is a positive. Another issue raised by some users is Griffin's choice to use AA batteries to power the device. From the responses to this feature, it's possible that the use of AA batters may well result in consternation from those who dislike having to change or recharge the batteries on a regular basis. The additional cost of batteries, particularly when paired with the substantial device of the Beacon device itself, has been a cause for concern for some, who fear that costs for the product will blow out, especially if paid-for software or hardware add-ons are introduced by the company down the track. Some more positive feedback about the device has related to the Beacon's 360 degree IR blaster, which is considered to help differentiate the Beacon from other IR devices in that this feature allows users to transmit data from almost any position.

In terms of technical support for its products, Griffin offers an online customer support system with videos, help guides, and more. However, no existing documentation is currently available for the Beacon at this stage. Until this information is provided, Beacon users will have to contact Griffin via their online form, or through their customer service department, which is open during standard work hours between Monday and Friday. Griffin purports to respond to all emails within two business days.

Harmony

Founded in 1981, the Swiss-based Logitech International is known for making peripheral devices and accessories such as computer keyboards and mouses, microphones, gaming controllers and webcams, speakers and media and entertainment devices. Logitech first become known for inventing the first mass-market computer mouse, and has since carved a niche in other mass market peripheral accessories, and is perhaps currently best known for its Harmony series of universal remote control devices, which first began selling in 2001, and continues to be popular today.

There are a number of features that are standard to all Logitech Harmony remote controls. These include their infrared learning ability, their ability to be set up online and send and retrieve information via a computer, and their ability to control multiple devices through a single-button command. There are currently 7 active Logitech Harmony products on the market: the 4-device Harmony 300, the 5-device Harmony 600 and Harmony 650, the 6-device Harmony 700, the Harmony One, the Harmony 900, and the 15-device Harmony 1100. There are also are number of earlier and discontinued models with similar functionality that can still be purchased from second-hand vendors or online at a reduced cost.

Retailing at $39.99 but available online at a discount, the Logitech Harmony 300 is a 4-device IR universal remote that reportedly supports up to 225,000 devices. Its features include online set-up, a simple one-button “power on/off” feature, and one-touch favorite channel and DVD and Blu-Ray controls. While the Harmony 300 lacks some of the more sophisticated features of more expensive models, such as backlit keys, a LED screen, and activities, most users describe it as a solid entry-level remote with an attractive layout and design, and good attention to detail. Set-up is generally simple, involving input of device make and model numbers via a computer, although users in low-bandwidth areas may find the installation process slower than others. In order to ensure compatibility with a PS3, a PS3 Bluetooth Adapter (RRP $50) needs to be purchased.

The five-device Logitech Harmony 600 and Harmony 650 have similar specifications, with the exception being that the Harmony 650 sports a color LED screen, and the 600 a greyscale screen. They retail for between $80 and $90. User reviews are generally positive, with users liking the design of the devices overall, and the ease of installation, although some users do report occasional glitches, freezes, and device mix-ups. The Logitech database is seen as particularly valuable, as it supports a wide range of devices, including newly released devices. Users also like the way that the Harmony software allows for the quick and simple set-up of activities and favorites. Some users have expressed concerns about the battery case design, which can cause the device's batteries to come loose, resulting in the device resetting.

The 6-device Logitech Harmony 700, which retails for $159, offers a color screen and rechargeable batteries, and allows users one-button access to favorites and activities, ensuring that devices are turned to the correct settings for a given process. Like the lower-end Harmony products, the Harmony 700 typically receives positive reviews, although there is a greater spread of opinions about this device than about those mentioned above. In fact, many feel that for its price, this remote supports too few devices. Users describe the Harmony 700 as feeling a little flimsy, and are disappointed by the lack of a cradle for the remote, as well as the low number of screen-based buttons. Some users note that settings can be lost if the batteries are removed from the remote.

The Harmony 900, at RRP $399, offers a full-color touch screen, out-of-sight control of devices up to 100 feet away, backlit buttons, and a recharging dock, and is compatible with 15 different devices. While the device generally receives highly positive reviews, some users note that feature-wise this remote is very similar to the much cheaper Harmony One (RRP $250), and note that the latter, which includes almost all of the Harmony 900's features, may be a better buy if the out-of-sight control feature isn't needed. Pros include the high quality screen and icons, high-quality IR blasters, and easy set-up. Limitations, however, include the difficulty of transferring device settings from an earlier model of remote to the Harmony 900, the inability to perform macros during an activity, the poor key sensitivity and lengthy loading delay, and the fact that favorite channel settings are limited to 4 per activity due to memory limitations.

At the upper end of the Harmony range is the tablet-style 15-device Harmony 1100 (RRP $399), which offers a 3.5-inch color touch screen and activity-based controls, , and highly customizable commands. User reviews are mostly positive, with most noting that while the pricey Harmony 1100 may induce sticker-shock, it's powerful enough to control a highly sophisticated home entertainment system. Installation is typically hassle-free, although some users report issues, and day-to-day use is generally without issue. Still, some users dislike the need to page through the menus in order to get to the desired menu item, while others are dissatisfied with the large footprint of the device. One design issue that poses an ongoing problem to users include the fact that it's difficult to navigate using the touch screen when watching a film or television. Some users were also disappointed by the fact that while the Harmony 1100 is RF capable, a RF extender needs to be purchased separately at $99 for the RF to actually work. These users felt that the cheaper Harmony One, which includes out-of-the-box RF capability, was a more cost-effective buy.

User feedback about Logitech support for the Harmony devices is generally positive. Calls are quickly answered, queries responded to, and replacement models promptly shipped out if required. Software upgrades for Logitech Harmony devices are also available through the Logitech website. The Logitech website also offers support forums, FAQs, replacement parts, and downloads of required drivers and updates for Logitech Harmony products.

i-Got-Control

Based in Southern California, iGi is a tech company focusing on the design and manufacture of hardware products and software applications for Apple iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad devices. As a relatively new company, iGi has a limited product range that currently comprises the IRB1, an infra-red remote control accessory device for iPhone, iPod Touch, or iPad devices, and the IRB1 APP, known also as the i-Got-Control remote control software. These products are designed to be used in tandem. The IRB1 retails for $69.95, while the app is currently free to download.

iGi describes its IRB1 products as a simple plug-and-play approach to an IR remote control, and highlights the ease with which the product can be used. Users connect the IRB1 adapter to the top of their compatible device, launch the IRB1 i-Got-Control App, and then search to find the audio-visual devices they wish to control. These saved preferences can then be accessed through the app at any time without the need for wi-fi connectivity.

The IRB1 adapter is a relatively small device that is streamlined in appearance and is shaped to fit the contours of the iPhone. It slips relatively seamlessly into the top of the iPhone, and is made from an attractive black plastic. However, while the device is fairly sleek in terms of depth, it protrudes are good inch or two from the top of a user's iPhone, and some users fear that it may be easily snapped off, damaging the input port as a result. Fortunately, given that it weighs in at half an ounce, the device doesn't add noticeably to the weight of the iPhone, which is a plus given the more substantial weight of many similar devices.

The i-Got-Control App features a built-in IR database with devices from around the world, and also features a learning capability. This allows users to control the various devices of their home theater system, and also offers on-the-go functionality for those needing to use various media devices for business or when traveling. The company notes that users can also use the device to control lighting or air conditioning of their home, although there are currently no reports of users having done so. Useful features that users reflect positively on include the intuitive and attractive graphic user interface, and the fact that it providers users with both visual and audible feedback. This is seen as valuable inclusion, as users of similar devices often complain of the lack of tactile feedback associated with touch-screen controls. Positive feedback has also been received with regard to the slide control bar found at the bottom of the screen. Users find this feature easier to use than the on-screen scroll wheel feature found on many similar devices, and reflect that it saves significant time and hassle overall. However, the absence of features such as the ability to move or rename buttons is a source of frustration for some users.

Users have also responded positively to the ease with which the device can be set up, as only a few button presses are required to add each media device to the IRB1. However, this isn't always the case in reality, as some users note that the “test” function can result in a number of false positives when it comes to detecting a device, meaning that a particular device isn't necessarily associated with the correct code. Even if the correct device is selected, users report having to manually train a number of the buttons for each device. While users note that the manual training is relatively easy to undertake, they also complain that the training isn't always successful. For example, despite several attempts, some users reported having no success in getting buttons such as the “sleep” button on their television to work using the IRB1 device, and that they had to continue using their original remote control for such features.

Similarly, while the macro feature is in theory a powerful and helpful feature, users reported functionality issues with the macros, noting that in some cases the macro commands failed altogether, while in others they performed incorrect actions. The poor selection of buttons available to recreate a virtual remote control was also an issue, with users reporting that this meant that they were unable to program certain functions into the device, and they had difficulty ensuring that the virtual remote on the IRB1 accurately represented their original remote control. Other gripes include the fact that the software contains advertising. Users note that while this is fine for a free app, it is inappropriate for this app to contain advertising given the $69.95 asking price for the hardware device.

In addition to a one year manufacturer's warranty on the IRB1 device, iGi offers online support for the IRB1 and the associated i-Got-Control App, with online manuals available in several languages, including English, Italian, and Dutch, and with other languages forthcoming. There are also online help videos available, and the company also offers help via a customer service email account, although there is no indication as to the standard response time. No customer service hotline is available for customers at this time.

In all, users note that while the IRB1 and the i-Got-Control App offers an intuitive interface and attractive styling, it falls short in terms of functionality. While some features work as intended, there are far too many instances where functions and macros execute incorrectly, or fail to complete the desired task. Other issues include the inability to customize buttons or to develop a virtual remote that is an accurate representation of the original remote. These issues, combined with the problems encountered during set-up, makes it this device an unlikely contender in the competitive IR universal remote control area, particularly given the device's fairly significant asking price.

L5 Remote

L5 Technology is a Fort Lauderdale-based technology company whose founders have a strong history in cutting-edge smart phone products and accessories. The company has generated quite a buzz amongst experts and consumers with its creative and innovative approach to iPhone, iPod, and iPad peripherals. Of particular interest in the L5 remote, a two-part universal remote control device that allows users to do away with their profusion of remote controls.

Unlike many competitors' models, the L5 remote accessory is sleek and streamlined, and is both versatile and portable. Requiring neither external batteries nor a separate wi-fi set-up, the device clips easily on to the dock connector of an iPhone or other compatible device, and in tandem with a bespoke bundled software app uses an infra-red signal to manage the demands of the most sophisticated home entertainment system set-up. With a range of up to thirty feet, the L5's IR blast signal is virtually without peer, and the functionality of the software is top-notch, particularly for the all-in-one asking price of $49.95.

User reviews of the L5 remote are unfailingly positive, with users noting that the L5 stands head and shoulders above other similar devices. A number of expert testers have also described it as their preferred IR remote solution, noting that of the myriad competing products they've tested, the L5 is the only device they've continued to use. One key point in the L5's favor is the ease of set-up. This is typically the downfall of most similar devices, with users often becoming frustrated by complex or counter-intuitive set-up processes. However, the L5 process comprises only a few steps, and the free software app, available from the Apple App Store, helpfully guides users throughout. With a touch of a button, users simply add a basic or custom remote to the app, and can begin customizing this remote by dragging and dropping. The process is simple but sophisticated, and allows users to select from an impressive array of button designs, and to rename and re-size buttons, as well as assign icons as desired. Users can also choose to omit rarely used buttons in the interest of keeping their remotes streamlined and relevant to their needs. The guided training sequence is an excellent inclusion, and helps take any guesswork out of the set-up process.

Once the initial layout design has been completed, users can begin training the various buttons to take on the desired attributes. Again, this is guided by a helpful on-screen dialog box, and can be completed close to instantaneously, with the L5 software able to quickly and intuitively incorporate even the most obscure of devices without so much as a hesitation. Users applaud the device for its flexibility in this area, and also appreciate the fact that the L5 can incorporate not only a large number of buttons for a given remote, but also a vast number of virtual remotes—up to a thousand, in fact, for a combined total of 10,000 individual buttons! Users can, for example, set up a remote for each device in the home, or set up remotes for each room or area of the home. The ease with which the device can be programmed is undoubtedly one of the key highlights of the L5 system, and is repeatedly emphasized by users as a standout feature.

Those who are disinclined to use the learn feature will find themselves taken with the wide-ranging list of ready-designed virtual remotes that can be downloaded using the L5 software. In addition to downloading these pre-configured remotes, users can also upload their own designs for back-up purposes, share them with other users, or transfer them between other devices. This means that users no longer have to worry about data loss. As a bonus this feature also helps facilitate the already speedy set-up process.

Another stand-out feature is the L5's ability to incorporate macros. Macros, a type of multi-command task, are usually only seen on costly universal remote control systems, so it's a pleasant surprise to see an inexpensive system such as the L5 allowing macro functionality, and doing so in considerable style. The ability to incorporate a delay into the various operations comprising the macro is a thoughtful inclusion, and one that gets the thumbs up from both users and expert reviewers.

In terms of performance, it's difficult to say a negative word about the L5, which works close to flawlessly throughout the testing process. Users note that every conceivable feature or command can be programmed into the device using the training function, and describe the ability to rearrange and customize the buttons on the virtual remote as being sleek and intuitive. The “snap-to” feature, which allows users to ensure their buttons are neatly and evenly arranged is a definite highlight. Surprisingly, no software issues have been reported, with users noting that the L5 performs without issue even when extremely complex systems are involved.

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Buy accessory $59 L5 Technology is a leading source for iPhone Universal Remote Control, Universal TV Remote, iPod Universal Remote and iPad Remote Control Adapter. L5 Technology and the L5 logo are trademarks of L5 Technology LLC. “Made for iPod” and “Works with iPhone” mean that an electronic accessory has been designed to connect specifically to iPod or iPhone respectively, and has been certified by the developer to meet Apple performance standards. Apple is not responsible for the operation of this device or its compliance with safety and regulatory standards. iPod, iPhone and iTunes are trademarks of Apple Inc., registered in the U.S. and other countries.