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There are few things more useless in the world than a half-baked iPod remote control. By its very nature, the iPod's multitier, nested folder organization requires you to look at its screen to make any sense of navigation. The best attempts at creating an iPod remote control either turn the iPod itself into a remote (Belkin TuneStage), or make use of a connected television set to make the iPod's display legible from across the room (DLO HomeDock Deluxe). The Bexy iMirror ($149) delivers a third type of novel solution to the iPod remote-control dilemma, by offering a remote control with a built-in screen.
The Bexy iMirror comes in two parts: a square base station that charges your iPod and connects to your home theater; and a full-size, rechargeable remote control. The iMirror's remote control is the more magical of the two components, offering a backlit 1.5-inch monochrome LCD display that reveals the contents of your docked iPod. The remote control uses 2.4GHz RF technology to give it a rated operating distance of 150 feet. We experienced a more realistic range of around 50 feet with some walls thrown in between the remote and the base. While the 150-foot wireless range might be unlikely, if you've ever wanted to dock your iPod next to your living room stereo and reliably steer the music playback from the kitchen, the Bexy iMirror is one of the most fully developed solutions we've seen for less than $200.
The iMirror handles more than just music, however. The back of the iMirror docking station includes RCA outputs for audio and composite video, as well as a high-quality S-Video connection, a pass-through mini-USB jack, and a 3.5-millimeter headphone jack. The inclusion of video outputs means that the iMirror can be used to play iPod video content on your television (including video podcasts). In spite of its video output capabilities, we were disappointed to see that the iMirror cannot display iPod photo slide shows. We also experienced some crashes and inconsistent playback behavior using the Bexy iMirror with the 3G iPod Nano. Bexy acknowledged the unintentionally erratic video playback behavior for the 2007 generation of iPods and claims that the currently shipping model of the Bexy iMirror has been revised to eliminate the problem. We had no problems using the iMirror with our fifth-generation video iPod.
Unlike most iPod remote-control accessories that seek to be as slim and discreet as possible, the iMirror's remote is relatively monolithic. Having lost our fair share of iPod remotes between the sofa cushions, we don't mind the iMirror remote's extra bulk, especially considering its glossy good looks. Measuring 6 inches by 1.75 inches by 0.75 inch, the iMirror's remote control houses a substantial lithium ion battery that is both removable and rechargeable. A total of 11 buttons are peppered across the iMirror remote. A four-way navigation pad with a center Select button dominates the center of the remote control, while a useful volume rocker switch on the left edge falls comfortably into the grip of right-handers.
Navigating iPod menus using the iMirror remote is pretty straightforward, presuming that you know your way around your iPod. The remote's menu interface doesn't let you access your iPod's settings or extras such as games or contacts, but it does provide quick access to your music, videos, playlists, and podcasts. We appreciated Bexy's inclusion of a dedicated home menu button above the remote's navigation pad, offering an easy way to jump out of nested folders.
Overall, we'd say that the Bexy iMirror is an above-average alternative to other iPod remote-control systems such as the DLO HomeDock Deluxe and Belkin TuneStage, but the product is not without some drawbacks. For instance, the iMirror's base (measuring 6 inches square) is large, especially when compared with Apple's own Universal Dock. We also found the look of the iMirror remote's monochrome display less than dazzling when held up to the vibrant color interface used on most modern iPods.