IR2BTci review: IR2BTci

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.

The IR2BTci is also unique in that it comes with included software to allow for greater customization of the device. Using the software you can adjust how the IR2BTci tracks power, activate external IR control, or even build your own macros into the device. Honestly, we didn't have a lot of use for the advanced functionality in our setup, but it's a plus for those who like to tweak or have complicated setups.

There is one nonobvious advantage to the capability to tweak the macros, which has to do with how the PS3 handles powering the unit down. The PS3 lacks a discrete power off code, so converters need to build-in macros that fire off a series of commands to shut down the PS3. However, if Sony tweaks the firmware so that the same series of commands doesn't work anymore, the power-off macro won't work. Because the IR2BTci makes it easy to modify the power-off macro--as well as program up to three other macros of your choice--it's easy to make a change if there is a major firmware change. The ps3toothfairy also lets you program your own shutdown macro, although it's not nearly as simple of a process.

The competing PS3IR-PRO can upgrade its firmware, but you have to rely on the company to release an update. The IR2BTci also offers upgradeable firmware, and we appreciate having both upgrade paths--customizable macros and upgradeable firmware--available on this device.

Performance
Like with all the IR-to-Bluetooth converters we've tested, performance was impressive. We were expecting some kind of lag as the boxes convert the signal, but using our Harmony 688 felt just as natural as using the PS3 controller. We also didn't run into any problems power cycling our PS3. To be clear, the PS3 lacks a discrete command for powering down, so turning the device off must be done using a macro programmed into the device; the same is true with all other IR-to-Bluetooth converters we've used. That means the IR2BTci sends a series of commands that eventually turn the device off. These commands are conveniently programmed into the IR2BTci, so you only have to send IR signal to activate the macro, instead of having to keep the remote pointed at the IR2BTci while it sends a string of commands.

At the end of the day, we were definitely impressed by the IR2BTci compared with the other IR-to-Bluetooth converters we tested, as its abundance of configuration options easily makes it the most flexible device. At the same time, most of the advanced options just aren't necessary in a typical home theater, and the cheaper ps3toothfairy and PS3IR-PRO will do just as good of a job. If you like to tweak or have a complicated custom installation, the IR2BTci is definitely the IR-to-Bluetooth converter to get, but most buyers will be fine with the cheaper, simpler alternatives.

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    IR2BTci

    Part Number: IR2BTci Released: Nov. 1, 2008

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    • Release date Nov. 1, 2008
    About The Author

    Covering home audio and video, Matthew Moskovciak helps CNET readers find the best sights and sounds for their home theaters. E-mail Matthew or follow him on Twitter @cnetmoskovciak.