You can turn your iPhone into a remote control with a $50 gadget that the iPhone connects to by Bluetooth and then controls your HDTV, cable box and sound system using traditional IR.
Although your cable or satellite company may offer a remote control app, this is designed to control more than just the box, turning your iPhone into a remote control for your whole home entertainment center.
The Philips Pronto is a small $50 gadget powered by four AA batteries that connects to your iPhone and then controls your HDTV. It works using IR, which nearly every TV, DVD player, connected home entertainment device, cable or satellite box uses. This works with the Peel iPhone app, which delivers more than just a simple remote control.
You can use this with any iPhone that supports Bluetooth LE, which means you will need at least an iPhone 4s. If you own a new iPhone or a newer iPad, you can also use the Peel app and the Pronto to turn these devices into a remote control.
You’ll need to unbox and set up the Pronto, placing it in front of your devices. Then download the Peel app to your iPhone or iPad. This is a free download in the app store. Once this is downloaded, you will tell it about the types of TV shows and movies you like to watch and then tell it about the devices you need to control.
During the set up, you will tell Peel and Pronto what home theater devices to control and test them to make sure each device works. Although the Pronto is designed to use in one room, you can add multiple controllers, so everyone in the house can hold the remote control.
The Pronto battery life is rated for approximately one year, and since there is no cable needed, you can more easily put it somewhere where it can control your home gadgets using the IR blaster that sends controls in all directions.
In addition to turning the iPhone into a remote control, the Peel app lets you see what is on TV right now that matches your interest. Instead of using an on-screen guide, you can look on your phone and then tap to change the channel to that program. This is a handy way to find something you want to watch.
The iPhone remote control app allows you to see what you want to watch in that grid layout and to see a standard remote control to change channels, access your DVR and control the volume. This takes some getting used to, as there are no physical buttons to press.
This is similar to the built-in functionality on some Android phones, but since there is no IR on the iPhone, you need a small device that connects by Bluetooth and then sends the signal to your home theater components by IR.
The Philips Pronto iPhone remote control solution is $50 and will arrive on store shelves later in January 2015.