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IFA 2010 – Gear 4 UnityRemote universal remote app

Gear4’s new take on the universal remote has a future on every gadgeteer’s coffee table

Universal remotes – yawn. iPhone remote control apps – also yawn. iPhone remote control apps that don’t need you to mate your nice gadget with a nasty dongle – we’re listening. Ones that come with an utterly gadgety wireless cylinder control unit – nice.

Gear4’s UnityRemote is a simple enough idea: a dongle-free universal remote app. But it’s been done properly this time, with a handsome cylindrical infra-red hub that fires out signal to all your kit. It has five IR transmitters, and Gear4 claims that – within reason – it doesn’t need line-of-sight to work, so you can put it, for instance, behind the TV.

It’s nice enough to have out on display, though, and totally wireless, running on three AA batteries that the company says will keep it juiced for up to nine months.

But that’s just the half of it. The UnityRemote app for iPhone and iPod Touch is one of the best thought-out bits of appery we’ve seen yet. It looks fun and easy to set up, is totally customisable (including putting controls for different devices on the same screen in different colours) and Gear4 seems to have anticipated every snag we could think of. It even supports swipe gestures for channel hopping and volume.

It’ll be exclusive to John Lewis from the end of September 2010 for £100. If you’re in the market for a TV, you should be able to get one half price as part of a launch promotion. And the app is free. We’ll have video and pictures of our hands-on session shortly…

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