Peel's take on using the iPhone as a universal remote requires no iPhone adapters. Instead, a free Peel iOS app communicates with a wireless transmitter plugged into your home's router. When you use the app to turn on your TV, home theater component, or select a show to watch, the selection is bounced to the wireless adapter and back to a little battery-powered pear-shaped IR blaster, which can be placed anywhere in your living room. It sounds a little complex to wrap your head around, but the system is fairly ingenious, and the end result is zero adapters for your iPhone. You walk in the door, launch the app, and that's your remote.
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Photo by: Donald Bell/CNET / Caption by:
Here you can see the battery-powered, wireless IR blaster. Its unique pear shape is a risky design move, but it may help ease consumer tensions over having what would otherwise be a black box IR blaster pointed at their TV.
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The hardware logistics are only one part of the equation. The real heart of what makes Peel unique is its free app, which makes a serous attempt to understand your viewing preferences and offer its best guess of what currently playing shows you'd be interested in watching.
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Here you can see the contents of the Peel hardware package. The real core of the system is wireless transmitter (shown in black) which plugs into your router and has an operating distance of over 60 feet from the IR blaster (shown left).
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Launch the Peel iOS app, and you'll see a selection of top recommended shows and movies culled from your personal preferences and the current channel listings.
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On the bottom of the Peel IR blaster, you'll see the product name and an arrow showing you which direction to point the device. The blaster can be placed anywhere in your living room, so long as it has a line of sight to your home theater system.
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Here's a shot of the retail packaging from the back.
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In the Peel app, your top picks can be flipped among like a deck of cards, similar to Palm's WebOS interface. Each card includes a show time and episode description.
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Under the shows tab, users can dig past recommended content and sort through shows using filters for genre. The main goal with the user interface design is to break away from the traditional channel guide grid and present content in a format that closer resembles the iTunes storefront.
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Sports, understandably, gets its own dedicated tab with a wheel up top for filtering content by specific sport.
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A search function is included for hunting down specific programming.
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To help the Peel app's recommendation engine, it asks that you sort genre's in order of preference. Any genres you despise can be hidden from view.
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Peel keeps tabs of your favorite shows and allows you to add and edit the list on a whim. You can even ban shows from ever appearing on your recommended list.
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