Remote controls have gotta be one of the greatest technological inventions of recent years. Imagine having to get up off the couch and walk to the TV set just to change the channel or adjust the volume. Unthinkable, right?
We bask in the ease of not having to do that, until of course we get buried in the number of remote controls on the coffee table: the TV, the sound system, the game console, the DVD player, the BluRay player, the cable box, the DVR, the air conditioner and any number of controls vie for our attention in a confusing morass of buttons. More frustrating when the one you need at the moment is nowhere to be found (look under the seat cushion, it’s probably there).
Enter the world of universal remote controls. These gadgets take over the functions of those various remote controls and put them together in one device. Imagine having just one gadget to control your myriad of devices, switching between them easily. They usually have the control codes of common appliances already built into it, or if not, they can “learn” them. The problem here is that the have the same buttons do different things depending on the remote profile you’re using at the moment, and it kinda gets confusing at times.
But not if you’re using ZooMote Zapper for iOS devices as your universal remote.
What it is is it converts your iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad into that universal remote control. All you need do is download a free app, and stick the minuscule gadget to the 30-pin connector of your iOS device. Then you’re all set.
The ZooMote Zapper is really an ingenious, clever device. It comes in a nice, small package barely bigger than the actual product, and comes in different colors. All you need do is look for the accompanying app that comes free from the AppStore (free because it’s no use having it without the dongle). Just download the app and install it onto your iOS device, and you’re good to go. You have to use your iOS device upside down, with the dongle facing the appliance you’re controlling (somehow that bothers me a bit, but I guess, like in most of these things, it’s probably just a personal thing). It’s meant to function best on the iPhone, but it does well on the iPad blown up 2x too.
The app is easy enough to use, and it opens up asking if you want to take a Tour of the software first, or if you want to Start using it. The Tour is a simple enough affair and shows you the highlights of the app with several helpful screens. You set up the devices according to the rooms they’re in, and the ZooMate Zapper has most of the common gadgets and devices already preset on the app. If you happen to have that one uncommon gadget, you can make the device/app “learn” the device’s controls, which is easy enough, if a bit laborious. (Actually, it didn’t have one Sony TV we had on the roster, but maybe that’s because it’s an old tube model.) Essentially it goes through the different functions and buttons, and all you need to do is make the device’s remote face the dongle and press the corresponding button on your screen. (It was a bit of a problem when the device asked for a button that doesn’t exist on the gadget, but it’s just a little niggle you can bypass.)
You swipe between devices and screens, and it’s easy enough to use. The app (which needs a bit of updating) sees to it the iOS device doesn’t go to sleep while you’re using it as a remote, which means it’s using up a bit of the battery life of the device more than usual. But the main conflict I see is you have to have the device always within usable remote control distance of your devices, which becomes a bit of a problem when you have to leave with your iPhone/iPod Touch/iPad, and leave the other members of the household without the new universal remote. You can’t very well leave your iOS device around the home theater system round the clock now, can you?
Otherwise, the ZooMate Zapper is a handy little device to have if you consider its limitations, and it makes a great addition to your household gadgets.
PRICE: US$70, or around PHP3500
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