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Review of Remote Extender Genius: Infrared Remotes Are So Yesterday

written by: •edited by: Rhonda Callow•updated: 5/20/2011
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It might sound lazy, but I really love using a remote control rather than having to go up and press buttons on a TV or any other device for that matter. But infrared (IR) which powers remotes isn't perfect - it has to have line-of-sight to work and distance becomes an issue quick.

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    How Much Remote You Got?

    Remote controls seem to have been around forever and - despite the couch potato jokes - they’ve brought an unparalleled convenience to controlling TVs and other devices from afar. Well, maybe “afar" is a bit overreaching, since the majority of remotes use an infrared beam that requires line-of-sight in order to work. This also restricts the positioning of the device, since it has to be where it can see the infrared beam.

    All of which points to the value of RF (radio-frequency) controlled remotes. These guys laugh at distance since they can work up to 100 feet away in most cases, and laugh even harder at line-of-sight since the RF signal can transmit through doors, shelves, cabinets and walls.

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    Say Hello to Radio-Frequency

    So why isn’t everybody using RF instead of IR? It’s a matter of price (RF remotes cost more than IR remotes) and the fact that most consumer devices (read that as TVs) come with IR remotes.

    All of this makes the Remote Extender Genius seem even smarter than it is. Not because it’s a RF kit to make your IR remote more useful (that's been done before), but because of how it does it.

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    What The Genius Knows

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    The folks behind the Remote Extender Genius postulated sensibly that the best way to get a RF remote working is to integrate it with the existing IR remote that you’re already familiar with. So instead of a RF remote coming in the package with all of the other bits, the RF transmitter is designed to go INSIDE of the IR remote. So let’s break it down.

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    What’s Inside Your Remote?

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    RF transmitter IR remotes all share a power source that consists of a series of ‘AA" or “AAA’ batteries. The Genius’ RF transmitter is sized like a “AAA" battery although slightly smaller. You put the RF transmitter into a “AAA" shell or both into a “AA" shell, depending upon the type of batteries in the IR remote, and then slip the RF transmitter into the remote as a replacement for one of the batteries it’s powered by. The RF signal has no trouble working through the plastic of the battery compartment, the remote has no trouble being powered and you have no learning curve to using the remote since for all practical purposes nothing has been changed.

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    Getting the RF Signal

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    Remote Extender Genius So now every time you press the remote, an RF signal is going out besides the IR. Obviously there has to be something to receive the RF - which brings us to the flying saucer shaped receiver. This domed little guy has its own wall socket power supply and a silver antenna reminiscent of a very very old style AM radio (sorry if this dates me). You plug in a wired cable that terminates in three IR emitters, raise the antenna and you’re ready to go. Oh - you do need to press the top of the receiver's dome once to have it sync with the RF transmitter, which happens after you join in by pressing a button on the remote.

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    Power, More Power Please

    You probably figured out by now that the RF transmitter is going to need more juice after a while in order to function. This brings us back to the receiver, which has two slots on the bottom for charging two RF transmitters. And in a appreciated gesture of good will, two RF transmitters are included so that one can be charging while the other is in use.

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    We Don’t Need No Stinkin’ IR

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    IR emitters Setting up the Genius with my HDTV in the bedroom took all of 5 minutes. I followed the procedure for syncing the remote with the receiver which was placed on a shelf under the TV with the IR emitters strewn before the TV at the rim of the TV stand. I flopped onto the bed. The TV’s remote functioned as it always did, although I noticed that now it didn’t matter which way I aimed it or that I was holding it behind my back and even stuffed it between the pillows while I was channel flipping. Best part is that when I got up and went to the kitchen during a commercial, I was able to lower the volume of the blaring announcements about things I didn’t need or want while raiding the icebox. That certainly wasn’t something I could do before.

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    What Else You Got?

    The Genius provides battery shells in different colors, and getting another one so that you can put it into another IR remote (matching it up to the other batteries inside) isn’t such a bad idea (mine was purple by the way). The company says you can even use more than one receiver in tandem to increase the range of control. I don't know about needing that, but I do know that RF control has made my life easier. That’s a big plus in my book.

    NextGen Remote Extender Genius website.

*Please note - the author received 'sent unit to try out' from a company other than Bright Hub in order to develop the content contained within this article or review.