We first saw the Griffin Beacon at CES earlier this year and now it’s shipping, to allow you to turn your iPhone or iPad into a universal remote.
In recent years we have seen standalone products such as the Logitech Harmony series and the the Genius Remote. We have also seen adaptors which turn your smartphones into universal remotes such as the Flpr, Redeye and L5. All of these required a dongle to be inserted into your phone to work but now Griffin Technology has launched one which requires no dongle or cables. However, the Beacon does require a unit to sit somewhere in your living room, which cleverly converts your iPhone/iPad’s Bluetooth signal into the infrared commands your TV, stereo, PVRs etc. would be expecting. Griffin has teamed up with software developer Dijit to create a free universal remote app, which easily pairs your smartphone with Beacon and in turn allows you to control a range of A/V devices.
Once you have downloaded Dijit’s Universal Remote app, it pairs with Beacon and allows you to control devices via Dijit’s Programming Guide. It will allow you to change channels, volume, input, program your PVR, and lots more. Griffin are selling the Beacon system on the basis that you don’t require “bulky cases or dongles, no messy wires or cables.” But unless the thing actually works, a lack of dongles won’t be much of an advantage. You can customize the layout of the remote on your screen to be as simple or as complicated as you like, depending on how many devices you want to control at once. In order to make sure it will work with your A/V systems, the Dijit app uses a constantly updated device code library for your TV, set-top box, sound system and media players. For components not yet included in Dijit's library, the app also includes an integrated learning feature.
Griffin is currently listing only the US price ($80) at the moment but at CES we were told it would cost £54.99 in the UK. While it is expensive for a remote system which requires you to have your iPhone/iPad present at all times, it does seem like a neat wireless solution.