iPhone as a home theatre remote control?

I have two young boys.  The youngest (not quite 2) loves the DVD player.  He is a master of swapping disks in and out… a little too frequently.  He also loves fiddling with the amplifier controls – like the power button.  Makes any TV watching experiences, err, interesting.

So I wanted to close off the DVD, amplifier, Foxtel etc.  The WD TV Live looks like a nice solution to load up DVDs onto to play (no more requirement to insert DVDs to play them).  (Two guys at work have the WD TV device and love it.)  But if you completely close off the front, the remotes won’t work – no way to get IR to devices!

Then I started noticing a few posts on using an iPhone via WiFi to control home theatre devices.  WiFi does not require line of site, so I would be able to completely block off the front of the equipment.  Here are some interesting pages I have come across.

  • Apple have a remote application, but its designed to control other Mac devices.  E.g. control iTunes on a desktop, or an Apple TV device.  Interesting, but I want something that can control non-Apple devices (like the Foxtel IQ).
  • Mr Obsession talks about Remote Buddy, but again seems to be talking about remote control of a Mac.
  • RedEye (review) is more what I am after.  WiFi communication to an IR transmitter.
  • iRed2 is another product.  It talks about a Mac controlling your AV equipment (via IR), but also has devices you can plug into a LAN to generate IR signals.  So this does look like another option.
  • Global Cache Home Network Adapter looks like a device more for custom solutions.  It can generate IR signals from a LAN, but does not seem to come bundled with iPhone control software like the RedEye and iRed2.  Also a bit more expensive.
  • WiFi Remote is another iPhone application for controlling a Windows box or a Mac.  I think its geared to controlling Windows Media Player or iTunes remotely, via WiFi.  Does not solve my problem of controlling a DVD player, amplifier, foxtel etc.
  • Mr Obsession again, talking about using a Mac mini as a media centre for watching videos etc, then with iPhone to remotely control the Mac.
  • This article however talks about how the mac mini has an IR port, but its not ideal – so here is how to open up your Mac and put a new device in its place (!).
  • This Mr Obsession article was almost interesting, until I realized he was basically watching TV on Macs everywhere (not dealing with integrating multiple devices like DVD players etc)
  • Crestron looks like a higher end solution.  Feels like a product range for home theatre installers rather than end users (like me!).  I assume more expensive as well.

What I think my utopia would be is actually to have all the signal generating equipment (DVD, Foxtel, etc) centralized, with amplifiers, TV etc at viewing points.  Then have the signal digitized and so redirectable to each location over a computer network.  The network can then be used for both AV distribution and computer intercommunication.  HDTV needs a fairly high bandwidth network (not current WiFi speeds!) – gigabit networking should be enough I think (100mbs is probably not enough?).


  1. I am just purchasing my first Iphone. I unfortunately have no extra information for you. But I am looking for the same thing as you. If you test any of them out let me know, and I will do the same.


  2. Nice list, Alan. Found your blog while searching for both Remote Buddy and RedEye. (I use both, btw, in my setup which is a Mac Mini for media PC and all the other usual suspects for the rest of it)

    Here’s what I can tell you about some of the items you mentioned:

    Apple’s remote app — fun little toy that will quickly lose its utility for you.

    Remote Buddy — wonderful replacement for Apple’s built-in IR remote. It’s highly configurable so that you can launch and control just about any Mac application you want. If you use a Mac for a media PC, then Remote Buddy is a nice addition. But as you say, it won’t control anything outside of the Mac.

    RedEye — Very neat little gizmo. I just bought one off eBay and it’s very fun. WiFi base blasts IR codes to all your IR-enabled devices (amp, TV, DVD, cable box, Mac, PC, etc.). It’s a bit pricey (I believe $150ish), but the iPhone app is free and pretty straight-forward to program and use. No computer client application required. Another possible selling point to you (I’m not an employee, btw!) is that the hardware base (the WiFi IR blaster box) is what gets programmed with all the configuration you execute on the iPhone app. This is nice, because then I can sync the app onto my wife’s iPhone and she has all the same settings right there on her phone too! It’s like we both have the same remote in each our hands. The changes I make to the setup, she will see on her instance of the iPhone app too. In my opinion, the RedEye solution is probably the closest to what you’re wanting.

    iRed2 — I looked briefly at this too. From memory, I believe this is made in Europe. And it was quite expensive. Also required a client app to run on a Mac. The companion iPhone isn’t free either.

    Global Cache Home Network Adapter — looked very briefly at this, and from what I could tell, it was a totally different protocol that not all devices spoke. Not as future proof as the RedEye would be (because let’s be honest, it will be a long time before IR goes away!)

    Well, I’ve talked enough. Good luck!

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