IR2BTci review: IR2BTci

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3.5 stars

CNET Editors' Rating

The Good Allows a standard universal remote to control the PS3; gives access to the full 51 remote buttons; zero lag between remote and console; powers the PS3 off using a built-in macro; user adjustable settings; upgradeable firmware; included software for configuration.

The Bad Expensive for what it does and cheaper alternatives will suit most buyers.

The Bottom Line The IR2BTci is the most advanced IR-to-Bluetooth converter we've tested, but most users will be fine with cheaper alternatives.

Visit manufacturer site for details.

7.8 Overall
  • Design 7.0
  • Features 7.0
  • Performance 8.0

While the Sony PlayStation 3 is one of the best values for high-definition movie buffs, it's always been somewhat of a pain to integrate in a standard home theater because it lacks an IR receptor. That means popular universal remotes, such a Logitech Harmony, can't control the PS3 and you're forced to either break out the PS3 controller or buy the Sony PlayStation 3 Blu-ray DVD Remote. For those who can't live without an activity-based remote, like us, it's a considerable drawback.

The only mainstream product to address this issue has been the Nyko Blu-Wave, which is a cheap fix, but can't turn the PS3 on or off, which means you'll need to do power the PS3 on and off manually or use a controller. To address this problem, a small group of basically homemade products have popped up on independent Web sites, offering the capability to convert standard IR commands to Bluetooth and use some clever macros to get around the PS3's peculiarities. The IR2BTci ($150) is one of these devices, and it offers the most functionality out of any of the IR-to-Bluetooth converters we've tested, although it comes at a hefty price. If you have a complex home theater or just want the most flexibility, the IR2BTci is the best we've tested, but the vast majority of users could go for the less-expensive competitors, such as the ps3toothfairy and the Schmartz PS3IR-PRO.

The design of IR-to-Bluetooth converters is pretty much uniform, as they all consist of a small black box about the size of a pack of cards, with one side featuring IR receptors. There are two red indicator lights on the front of the unit, which can be useful occasionally when configuring the device. On the downside, you don't have the option of turning them off, like you can on the ps3toothfairy.

Setup on the IR2BTci is relatively simple. The first thing you need to do is "pair" the IR2BTci with your PS3, which lets your PS3 know that it will be controlled by a remote. To do so, as you navigate to the appropriate screen on the PS3, plug in the IR2BTci and then press "2" on the remote. One slight annoyance during setup is that after we added the PS3IR-PRO to a Harmony activity (Play PS3), we had to manually associate all the PS3IR-PRO functions with that activity. It's tedious, but you only have to do it once. It's worth noting that we had to do the same thing with all the IR to Bluetooth converters that we tested.

The main purpose of the IR2BTci is to offer a way to integrate all the functionality of Sony's Blu-ray remote to a standard universal remote. The IR2BTci has access to all 51 remote buttons, so you can easily watch Blu-ray movies and perform all the standard functions, such as access the pop-up menu or skip chapters. Of course, some functions are handled better by an actual game controller, such as browsing the Web or (obviously) gaming.

The IR2BTci is powered via USB, which is convenient if your entertainment center has an always-on device, like a TiVo or cable box, with a powered USB port. If you don't have one of those devices, you can use the included USB power adapter, which plugs into a standard wall outlet. The standard USB port on the back is definitely preferable to the ps3toothfairy's less common power adapter. Note that you cannot use one of the PS3's USB ports, as they do not provide power when the PS3 is turned off.

Compared with the other converters we tested, the IR2BTci has a lot of additional connectivity besides just power. There's another USB port, called "USB sense," which is used to detect whether the PS3 is on or off by making a USB connection. There's also an AC sense port, which uses the Xantech SMMAG01 as another method of testing whether the PS3 is on or off. Next to that is an AUX port, which should be a boon for those with custom installs, as it can send and receive RS-232 signals. Lastly, there's an IR port, for those with wired IR installations. In a standard home theater, you're unlikely to use most of these ports, but they offer a lot of flexibility for custom installers.

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