IR2BT: Take Control of the PS3

Discussion in 'Playback Devices' started by Robert George, Mar 31, 2008.

  1. Robert George

    Robert George Screenwriter

    Joined:
    Jul 3, 1997
    Messages:
    1,089
    Likes Received:
    65
    As a game console, the PS3 is quite the machine. Although I am not a "gamer", I am smart enough to recognize what can rightly be described as a "media hub" when I see one. Besides some really beautiful hi-def game play, just about any PS3 owner will be happy to regale one with the many capabilities of the PS3, including that of a very capable Blu-ray disc player. It is this ability that is also the source of one of the PS3's most notorious shortcomings. The lack of IR control.

    Gamers tend to downplay the lack of an IR receiver and remote for the PS3 as this is not a feature they would care much about. The game controllers use Bluetooth RF technology and that is actually quite an elegant solution if one is two-handing a game controller from across the room. To their credit, Sony has also provided a Bluetooth remote control for the PS3 that looks and works like a standard remote control for those using the PS3 as their Blu-ray and DVD player. Unfortunately, many people with home theater systems prefer to use one of the universal remote controls on the market for the expressed purpose of eliminating all the remotes that tend to accumulate with a home theater and audio system. These devices do not support Bluetooth, and therein lies the rub. Tell the guy that spent anywhere from a few hundred to over a thousand dollars for a universal remote control that it will work for everything in his system except that multi-purpose media hub called the PS3. Nothing will take the luster off an otherwise Swiss Army Knife-like device than making the control more difficult than it needs to be.

    They say that necessity is the mother of invention, and so it is that there have been devices designed by companies other than Sony that attempt to bring IR control to the PS3. These have been more or less successful, though always with some shortcoming or lack of features that make them no better than a kludge, and sometimes not even very good as that. Until now.

    Enter a small Florida company that has developed a little box that combines the benefits of standard IR control with the obvious benefits of Bluetooth control of the PS3. The IR2BT is a small box with an IR receiver that accepts standard Sony PS2 IR codes and maps them over to all 51 of the Bluetooth codes used to control the PS3 from the Sony BD remote. There is nothing to plug into the PS3 or stick on it as the Sony Bluetooth codes are still being employed meaning the IR2BT can be placed anywhere within Bluetooth range of the PS3. The IR2BT can be powered either by a pair of AA batteries, or by USB power. USB power can be a plug-in USB power adapter, a powered USB hub, or even a powered USB port on devices such as cable and satellite receivers. The company does not recommend using one of the USB ports on the PS3 itself as these ports are not powered when the PS3 is off.

    The most simple remote is unquestionably the Logitech Harmony as IR2BT has been working with Logitech even before the release of the IR2BT to have a ready made device configuration available for Harmony users. However, any remote that can learn IR codes can be used. The company's web site has a forum where one can find some of the resources needed to make other universal remotes compatible with the IR2BT and the PS3. My personal remote of choice is the Nevo Q50 from Universal Electronics. There are some codes in the Nevo database, but I had the best result using the Pronto hex format codes posted on the IR2BT forum. Obviously, this sort of thing is not for the "average" consumer. Even some above average ones may have some trouble working through some of the necessary steps to create a fully compatible universal IR remote. Harmony users, however, have a fairly easy task.

    Lest one argue the freedom of Bluetooth control that does not require line of sight offsets the advantage of using a single remote for one's entire system, it should be pointed out that many universal IR remotes also have optional RF extenders. My Nevo is such a device, and in that little bit of irony, I am using one RF technology combined with IR technology to control an RF device. Be that as it may, the IR2BT works very well with very quick code generation and smooth, error-free control of the PS3.

    One final caution, there is obviously some pent-up demand for this sort of device and the first batch of 200 units sold out in a mere 12 hours, even at what some may consider the premium price of $55.00 for the basic unit alone, and that with no advertising to speak of. Word of mouth on a few forums only. The IR2BT company does not have the ability to take backorders at this time so one will have to simply keep checking their web site to find out when more units become available. As one who both uses a universal remote and the PS3 as a Blu-ray player, I consider this nifty new device well worth both the price, and the trouble it will take to get one right now.

    IR2BT - InfraRed to BlueTooth Converter for the PS3
     
  2. mitch

    mitch Stunt Coordinator

    Joined:
    Jun 30, 1997
    Messages:
    89
    Likes Received:
    0
    Robert,

    Thanks for the great review. This does indeed look like a winner. I have the Harmony 880 Remote. How exactly do you set this device up to work with the Harmony and the PS3? I'm not a real "techie", so please tell me step by step if you don't mind.

    Thanks,

    Mitch
     
  3. Robert George

    Robert George Screenwriter

    Joined:
    Jul 3, 1997
    Messages:
    1,089
    Likes Received:
    65
    Mitch,

    I am not a Harmony user, but if you check the Harmony forum at IR2BT, you should get the answers you need...

    The IR2BT Forum - :: Index
     
  4. mitch

    mitch Stunt Coordinator

    Joined:
    Jun 30, 1997
    Messages:
    89
    Likes Received:
    0
    Thanks Robert. I will check this forum out. It looks like it will be some time before I can get one anyway.

    Where do you place your IR2BT device for best performance? How does it work for you? How do you charge it?

    Thanks again,

    Mitch
     
  5. Robert George

    Robert George Screenwriter

    Joined:
    Jul 3, 1997
    Messages:
    1,089
    Likes Received:
    65

    In my case, the IR2BT is sitting on the back of a shelf in my equipment rack. The shelf with the PS3 has the most unused room. I did have the device on batteries last night sitting across the living room from the PS3 (15 feet or so) and it works exactly the same whether sitting right behind the PS3 or across the room.

    With the IR2BT sitting in the rack, I am powering it using USB from one of my DirecTV DVRs. Works great.

    As I said in the review, the remote I use is the Nevo Q50 paired with Nevo's "smart" RF extender, the Nevo Connect. There is a wired IR emitter from the Nevo Connect to the IR2BT. The Nevo and Nevo Connect use two-way RF communication and as such have very quick response without dropping commands, even on macros. Controlling the PS3 with this setup is virtually as fast as using the PS3 Bluetooth remote by itself. If there is any lag, it is so slight as to be not noticable. This will not always be the case. Some remote/RF extender combinations are not quite so good as the Nevo. Even so, I believe using the IR2BT will always be as fast, or faster than the Nyko Blu-Wave IR dongle device that most people have been using. Certainly the Nevo/IR2BT is considerably faster than the Nyko.
     
  6. Chris Bardon

    Chris Bardon Cinematographer

    Joined:
    Jul 4, 2000
    Messages:
    2,059
    Likes Received:
    0
    I also managed to get in on the first 200 of these, and so far I haven't had any problems with it. I have the IR2BT sitting beside my TV, and it's powered by a mini USB cable running to a wall adapter. I used a harmony 660 to download the codes from the Logitsch database, and then taught the codes to my Sony RM-VL900 over IR. It took a little tweaking to get all the buttons assigned the way I wanted them, but now everything on the ps3 works with my universal just as well as it did with the Sony BT remote. Yeah, it was a little expensive, but it's a whole lot more convenient being back to a single remote.
     

Share This Page