• RedEye WiFi To Infrared Bridge Review

    Problem: Multiple remote controls using multiple technologies without integration.

    Example: iPhone controlling iTunes over WiFi and traditional remote controlling HiFi components via infrared.

    Solution: RedEye from the ThinkFlood company. Converts WiFi signal into infrared allowing iPhone to control iTunes and HiFi components.

    In my dream world an iPhone not only controls music playback, but control the volume on my DAC via the volume up and down buttons on the side of the phone. This would allow use of the Apple Remote application or Plug Player while simultaneously adjusting the volume with a single device. Since my dream world isn't a reality yet the next best thing is the RedEye from ThinkFlood. This hardware and software combination allows one to use an iPhone app like an infrared remote without the need for direct line of sight from the phone to the electronics. Switching between the Apple Remote app and the RedEye app is pretty simple with newly enabled iPhone multitasking. However watching the volume level shoot up at breakneck speed is a little scary especially after the virtual volume button has ben released for a few seconds. RedEye might not be the ultimate in remote control products, but for less than $190 it's a great solution for many computer audiophiles looking to retire one more traditional remote control.



    What Is RedEye?

    Hardware

    The RedEye hardware is a Wifi to infrared bridge with an available built-in iPhone charging cradle. The RedEye cradle is compatible with nearly all iPhones and iPod Touches with the included dock adapters. The only physical connection required by the RedEye is for power. It communicates to any 802.11 b/g WiFi network and supports WEP, WPA, and WPA2 wireless security protocols. There is no option for wired Ethernet. One RedEye can be controlled by several iPhones simultaneously and several RedEyes can be controlled by one or more iPhones at the same time. By default each time the RedEye sends an infrared signal a bright blue light flashes inside the unit. This is helpful for troubleshooting, but I disabled the light indicator shortly after setup. The RedEye is completely dark and hidden in my listening room.

    One item of note is that the RedEye comes configured for its own wireless network. An iPhone can easily connect to this network and operate with full remote control functionality. I recommend changing the RedEye configuration to join an existing home network. This way the iPhone can access the whole house network, including Internet, as well as the RedEye unit. If the default RedEye network is used the iPhone will have to join the RedEye network to use the remote control features, then join the house network to control iTunes running on a music server. This is far from ideal. Spend a little extra time up front as it will save a hassle and tons of time down the road.






     


    Software

    The real beauty of the RedEye system is the free iPhone application. In layman's terms the iPhone application communicates with the RedEye hardware by sending a command, such as volume up or power off, over the wireless network. The RedEye hardware receives the instruction via WiFi and sends the appropriate command via infrared to the electronic component.

    Initial setup of the app is fairly easy, but not without some hiccups. First, a little primer on RedEye terminology. The RedEye iPhone app has five main screens. Only two of them are important once the system is setup. These two are called Rooms and Activities. Each piece of RedEye hardware is seen by the application as a Room. Activities are are items like watching TV, listening to a CD, watching a DVD, or listening via music server. The music server activity isn't built-in, but these activities are only labels anyway. I created my own activity called Music Server. Each Room can contain many Activities enabling use in a home theater with a plethora of electronics. Navigating to control the components desired is pretty simple. Select a Room then an activity and the remote control for that activity appears on screen.

    One of the other five main screens is called devices. This screen lists all the devices in the selected Room. I never used this screen for anything other than viewing the list of devices. This was solely because I only wanted to control a single IR device. Another rarely used screen is named Commands. This screen enables one to send one of the remote controls rarely used commands that purposely left off the main controller screen. This is another screen I nearly never used.

    Back to the initial setup. Rooms are automatically created when a RedEye hardware unit is discovered. Devices must be added before any activities. Adding devices is the piece that caused me the most pain. ThinkFlood has a very extensive online database of device codes that automatically download to the application upon selection of a specific device. Since the high-end audio niche isn't the most catered to audience I wasn't surprised to see none of my devices listed in the database. Fortunately I obtained the remote codes from a manufacturer and sent them to ThinkFlood support. The next day many devices form this manufacturer were listed in the database and were selectable when adding a device within the application. RedEye also supports the standard remote learning function where infrared commands are sent to the unit from a traditional IR remote during a one time setup procedure.

    When adding a DAC to the RedEye app I became a bit frustrated. I entered the device Manufacturer into the app, in this case Esoteric. The app then asks for device type. Just about every type of electronic device is listed in this section except DACs. Heck, even Audio Tape Recorders and Phonographs are listen but no DAC. Even though I sent in the Esoteric commands to ThinkFlood my DAC was still not listed. I assumed it was entered as a CD player or something similar. It's possible to enter a device model name in another optional section, but adding a model name never helped my cause. Now the very annoying part. If a device type is selected and there are no devices of that type for a specific manufacturer the app requires the user to start the device adding process all over. The user receives a message that there are no devices of a certain type in the database but doesn't allow the user to select another device type. This is annoying when trying to guess where a DAC falls into place. Knowing that many remote commands for a manufacturer are the same between devices I was pretty sure I could find at least one device, even if it didn't say DAC on it, that worked for me. I tried a few DVD, CD, and AV Receiver devices under the Esoteric name. Not satisfied until I found the device that worked best as a DAC controller I had to try every device type. This lead to searching for a device type and starting over if nothing was found in the database. Maybe ThinkFlood can disable certain device types if there are none for a given manufacture. I finally settled on an Esoteric CD player. I also had to choose between two different items listed as 5799: Play and 5802: Play. People not learned in remote control speak would have no idea what option to select. I did a little research and found out 5802 was the best option.

    Once that mini-fiasco was over the rest of the setup was a breeze. I added an activity called Music Server and select the Esoteric DAC as my device. One very neat part of the RedEye iPhone application is its customizability. On most traditional remote controls there are way more buttons than I would ever use on a daily basis. Using the RedEye app it's very easy to display only the buttons desired and to place them in any location on the screen. Moving buttons is a simple drag and drop process. More about my exact setup a bit later.

    Users with much more advanced systems are also in luck with the RedEye. The app supports Smart Actions. These are like an advanced Macro because Smart Actions remember if a device is on or off. There's nothing like using a Macro to turn on/off a bunch of devices at once only to find out one device is in the opposite state. Ten items on and one device off or one device on and ten devices off. Very annoying. this will never happen with the RedEye.







     

    How Does RedEye Work In My System?

    My description above may be a bit difficult to follow without a concrete example. Here is exactly how I used the RedEye for this review. Esoteric shipped me the D-07 DAC for review. When asked if I want the remote control I declined as I knew this would force me to find a solution for iPhone IR remote control. During the review my system configuration was pretty simple. A Mac and Windows music server connected to the D-07 that was connected directly to my amplifier. I used the Apple Remote app to control iTunes on the Mac and the Plug Player app to control J River Media Center on the Windows server. Since the iPhone iOS 4 now supports multitasking it was easy to switch between the RedEye app and either Remote or Plug Player quickly. A major plus of the RedEye application is its ability to open directly to the activity in progress. Switching back to RedEye from Plug Player brought me instantly to the remote control screen for the D-07. No intermediate menu navigation is necessary.

    After the struggles mentioned above while adding the DAC device I really enjoyed the ability to create my own remote control screen. I took a minimalist approach when designing the screen. The only buttons I displayed were Menu, Input left/right, Volume up/down, and Mute. I loved the ability to place the volume buttons very close to the right edge of the screen. This enabled easy one-handed access to the buttons without contorting my hand across the touch screen and accidentally hitting the other buttons. The RedEye app also allows granular configuration of the button appearance and how it functions. Function options are Normal, Macro, Toggle, or Repeating. I used the Normal options for most buttons and the Repeating option for the volume buttons. The Esoteric D-07 volume ranges from -100 to 0 and moves .5 per button click. Without a repeating button it can take quite a while to adjust the volume. The appearance of each button can be changed by selecting a different icon, icon size, and showing/hiding a button label.

    Aesthetically the remote control screen is really nice and understated. I like the dark background as it uses far less battery than bright white background. In addition the remote control screen enters full screen mode with one tap of a finger or within a couple seconds of viewing the remote control screen itself. I set this option to enter full screen / hide toolbars automatically. It's possible to hide the top, bottom or none of the toolbars if desired. I also liked the ability to disable screen auto-lock. This setting keeps the remote control screen visible and ready to use 100% of the time. The iPhone will dim the display a little bit, but never put the device to sleep. With the already dark background and the slightly dimmed screen I never noticed any batter degradation while using the RedEye app on my iPhone.

    In my listening room I placed the RedEye hardware underneath the desk where I write reviews and articles. The desk sits in the rear left-hand corner of the room. With the blue light in the RedEye disabled there is no way anyone would no the deice is there. Plus, I don't have to do anything but open the RedEye application and I'm ready to go. Since I charge my iPhone every night and never notice any battery usage from the app I had no use for the built-in RedEye charger. However, If I purchased an iPod Touch as a remote for my listening room only I would likely use the charging cradle on the RedEye and place is near my listening chair. It's very nice to have options.

    During the review period I ran into a couple things RedEye user should keep in mind. Setting the volume button to repeating can lead to moments of audiophile terror as the volume increases at an out of control rate. This issue really sounds larger than it is and may not be an issue for all components. Using the D-07 and adjusting the volume I found the volume would continue to rise or fall sometimes for a few seconds after I let go of the volume button. After learning how to use the volume with the D-07 I was able to adjust it in .5 db increments and raise and lower the volume at will without major issues. Another item to keep in tieback one one's mind is the RedEye's ability to reconnect to a wireless network after experiencing network problems. During the review I rebooted my wireless router a couple time and after each reboot I had to systole the power on the RedEye hardware. Fortunately no configuration was needed and the RedEye appeared within a few seconds in the iPhone app. Not a big deal, but a possible headache if one doesn't know how to fix the issue.


    Note: The RedEye Mini was not available during the review period. Even so, the Mini is not my type of device. It requires the user to insert a little infrared transceiver into the headphone jack of the iPhone and aim the iPhone at the electronic components to control them. The Mini is a popular device now for many people, just not for me. I just want to be able to enter my listening room and open the app with the hardware already in place under my desk.

             


     

    Pros, Cons, and Conclusions

    Pros

    • A single remote control for WiFi and infrared

    • Great customization

    • Full screen

    • Hardware sits in one spot without need to touch it

    • Optimized to launch quickly and to bring one right to the activity in progress

    • Backup and restore capability

    • Button feedback with sound or vibration

    •  
      Cons
    • Device setup annoyance

    • Runaway volume

    • Device didn't reconnect to network after router reboot


     

    Conclusions

    CASH-ListThe RedEye hardware / software combination is really tough to beat for less than $190. It's not glitch free, but it's simple to use and doesn't require a certified programmer to setup and maintain. Finally the days or infrared remotes are history for those willing to give the RedEye a shot. The RedEye is the solution to a real problem, not a solution looking for a problem like so many new tech toys. Whether a user has one audio system or whole house audio or even a home theater, the RedEye can control all of them at once. Users so inclined can even get into a remote control war with their significant other using two iPhones to control a single stereo or television via the RedEye. This many-to-one or one-to-many relationship has me wondering where all the restrictions of the past have gone. It's seems like not too long ago there wold have been major restrictions limiting the number of remotes and devices and likely more than a few wireless issues. I highly recommend this restriction-free, convenience laden, music server and component control in one. It 's a great time to be an audiophile.

     

     

     





    Manufacturer - ThinkFlood
    Price - RedEye Hardware - $188 [Product Page]
    Price - RedEye iPhone App - Free [Product Page]
    RedEye User Manual*[Link]
    RedEye YouTube Channel*[Link]

     

     

     
    Comments 28 Comments
    1. ted_b's Avatar
      ted_b -
      about one thing: what is the "turn off wifi after you're done using this" portion of the video all about? In what scenario would one need to turn off wi-fi (not good for me cuz I use the iPod touch and/or iPad for iTunes/Pure Music use, etc)?<br />
      <br />
      Also, I called Thinkflood about a couple issues. I am a longtime Pronto remote user and wanted to know about other bitmap support (for non-standard tv channel icons, activity icons, etc.). They said they are adding standard tv icons to their db all the time, and thinking about user-provided bitmaps later down the road. Also, true native iPad support is coming in a couple months, too (i.e not just 2x iphone display resizing).
    1. The Computer Audiophile's Avatar
      The Computer Audiophile -
      Hi Ted - I think you're just talking about the setup portion of the video. Once RedEye is on your network there is no need to adjust your WiFi settings or turn it off (or Airplane mode).
    1. ted_b's Avatar
      ted_b -
      app take you in setting up the skeleton system (naming devices, rooms, etc) before it needs a purchased RedEye dock or mini to get to more detail or access the online databases (i.e can any work be done as one waits for the hardware to arrive, or more appropriately, get an idea of the flexibility or lack thereof before purchase)?
    1. The Computer Audiophile's Avatar
      The Computer Audiophile -
      Hi Ted - The free app will take you nowhere. Without hardware the app can't be setup at all (I believe).
    1. jimim's Avatar
      jimim -
      all I got to say is iRule. Free app for the iPhone and iPad. The builder is web based and is 52 dollars for as many iDevices as you would like. The control is from global cache, ir to ip or serial to ip control.<br />
      <br />
      you can custom design from the ground up. make links to pages. gestures. macros. custom buttons or use the library which uses add to. you search for devices from their online library which the users again build on. if a device isn't in there they can be learned right through the global cache unit. if you use the new iTach unit the learner is built right in. oh ya you can add url's to the setup also so u can control web based controls without leaving iRule.<br />
      <br />
      i can go on and on. i love it. serial control is wicked quick. right now there is only 1 way control but the developer is working very hard on 2 way. he also just added the ability to repeat commands if needed for those harder to learn devices.<br />
      <br />
      check it out. seriously it is the best remote i have ever used.<br />
      <br />
      i have nothing to do with iRule I found it on my own. i was going to go the redeye route but why use point and shoot when u can go ip based.<br />
      <br />
      i'll try to answer any questions!<br />
      <br />
      jim
    1. The Computer Audiophile's Avatar
      The Computer Audiophile -
      Hi Jim - RedEye is IP based as the ir transceiver has an IP address on the network. There is no point and shoot necessary. I'll checkout iRule again, thanks for reminding me :~)
    1. dallasjustice's Avatar
      dallasjustice -
      The most robust system that I could find. Gotta have RS232. IR is too slow; macros and volume control are very difficult to manage with IR.<br />
      <br />
    1. The Computer Audiophile's Avatar
      The Computer Audiophile -
      Hi Dallas - Can you elaborate on that a bit? IR being too slow and macros & volume control being difficult to manage with IR.<br />
      <br />
      I'm honestly interested in your experience on this. Thanks :~)
    1. dallasjustice's Avatar
      dallasjustice -
      I am not affiliated with iRule. i am just a lawyer that loves music and technology. <br />
      <br />
      I have been using iRule for almost a year now. It works via TCP/IP protocol with a Global Cache device. The GC device then converts the TCP/IP into IR or RS232. Of course you can bypass the GC device and use set up a gateway directly with your computer. <br />
      <br />
      IR is is problematic because it seems like the IR emitter sometimes gets moved off direct contact with the component IR receiver or the little IR wire gets pinched somewhere in the wire jungle behind my a/v rack; who knows what. The bottom line is that IR is cool at first, but will not hold up over time. Most high-end audio components have RS232 ports that can send and receive data at much faster speeds than IR. <br />
      <br />
      Macros are also a problem for IR if you have two or three IR device. You have to make sure to setup the macro so that there's enough delay so that the relay device (in my case the GC device) can keep up with transmitting the signal. Even if you can do it correctly, there are the aforementioned inconsistencies that go along with IR. It gets even more tricky when setting up a macro with a mixture of IR and network or RS232 commands.<br />
      <br />
      Volume repeating is also a big problem with IR because you have to figure out the exact pace to repeat. That is, you must figure out the exactly correct delay so that the IR signal doesn't get backed up which would result in IR repeating signals long after you take your finger off of the button.<br />
      <br />
      Finally, IR is one-way and RS232 is two-way; I wish Itai Bengal would work a little quicker on getting the long anticipated two-way feature working.<br />
      <br />
      I will say that iRule is not for everyone. You have to feel very comfortable with programming the codes and IR codes or much more difficult than RS232 codes. You can learn IR codes with the newer iTach GC models but its still a laborious process. <br />
      <br />
      I hope I answered some of your questions. <br />
      <br />
      Will you be giving any presentations at RMAF?
    1. The Computer Audiophile's Avatar
      The Computer Audiophile -
      Hi DallasJustice - Excellent, thanks for the info. That's exactly what I was looking for :~)<br />
      <br />
      Of course I'll be doing seminars at RMAF. I'm scheduled to opne the show with David Solomon from Peachtree Audio. We will be talking about high end computer audio on a budget. I'm also scheduled to close the show with a two hour computer audio Q&A, just me and everyone's questions. I'll have a laptop there and it will be connected to a large screen so I can show people whatever they need as well.<br />
      <br />
      Should be fun. Mak sure to say hi if we cross paths :~)
    1. almaatakz's Avatar
      almaatakz -
      Thank you, Chris! A timely and excellent review of a very interesting device. <br />
      <br />
      Some additional comments:<br />
      <br />
      - I understand it has to be set-up using teh ipod/iphone. there is no option to set it up using a computer (with easier manipulation from keyboard and mouse and bigger screen) and then download teh config tot he ipod/iphone. correct? if so, I would add that it would have been nice to ahve this option, especially that the app and it's set-up is likely to get more comlex as it develops and becomes more advanced<br />
      <br />
      - I also understadn that the button layout is limited to square buttons of one certain size and spaces/grid between teh buttons is also fixed? if so, would be nice to be able to change the size of buttons (e.g. if I want a button to have a longer text) and have at least some choice of button shapes and a customisable grid.<br />
      <br />
      - on a slightly different note: what would be really nice is to have an IR tranceiver built into ipods/iphones/ipads (how hard can it be!?) and have a choice of good *advaced* remote control apps fully integrating itunes control (playlists, artists etc) with the control of the rest of hifi (IR and WiFi). that would be really cool!<br />
      <br />
    1. jimim's Avatar
      jimim -
      my bad. . . i thought it used that dock as a huge blaster to hit all the IR devices. <br />
      <br />
      I think what makes iRule such a huge benefit in the home media area is the use of IP control also which is so common now on pre/pro's and bluray and other media devices. even for control of say a computer windows home media through keyboard control.<br />
      <br />
      it's really amazing all the applications for it. if you have a pc you don't even need a global cache box. you can use the pc as a gateway for control.<br />
      <br />
      i don't do use it this way cause i on;y have mac's but alot of people on avs are.<br />
      <br />
      jim
    1. jimim's Avatar
      jimim -
      i hear ya. i love having rs232 control on my nuvo grand. i have all commands for various vol levels. it makes it nice for outdoor use being there is no 2way control yet. it is blazing fast!<br />
      <br />
      jimi
    1. jimim's Avatar
      jimim -
      I can say from talking with Itai that 2way is in the works but you have to remember like he said, every manufacturer implements 2way diff and that is what is making it hard. it might work with one piece of equipment and not another. <br />
      <br />
      i am sure he is working as quick as possible on it. i mean look at the 7 diff updates to address new wants and fixes over the past months.
    1. jimim's Avatar
      jimim -
      I can answer these for you:<br />
      <br />
      1. irule is web based builder you build on the web and then hit synch on the idevice and your setup is updated. this can now be done on 3g also.<br />
      <br />
      2. like i said in my first post your imagination is your limit. you can use photoshop to make any kind of buttons you want. itai has a set database you can use and all us users share our stuff we have made over the years. anything goes for layouts. blank canvas.<br />
      <br />
    1. ted_b's Avatar
      ted_b -
      I am a veteran Pronto user (first TSU6000 and now TSU9400) but have my ipod (or iPad) next to me to use the Apple Remote app or yTrack to navigate and browse my iTunes music library for remote Pure Music/Amarra use. In this mode my Pronto is used purely for volume to my stereo preamp. For all other AV functions the ipod/ipad is moot and all work is done on the Pronto. It's clear that both of these solutions above provide AV remote capability, potentially replacing my Pronto and in the case of iRule even giving me the ability to steal those pronto ehx codes for sue in iRule. Fine. <br />
      1) However, given that listening to music requires two different apps (Apple Remote-or-yTrack and iRule-or-Redeye) in what way does one toggle between the two to do volume control and iTunes library browsing, especially currently given the multitask limitations of the Touch, iPad, etc?<br />
      2) Will iRule have a learning function (doubt there are pre-existing codes for many pro and audiophile brands we discuss...Weiss, Wyred4Sound, Antelope, Berkeley, Modwright, etc etc)?
    1. The Computer Audiophile's Avatar
      The Computer Audiophile -
      Hi Ted - To toggle between two apps using multitasking you simply press the circle button on the Touch two time really fast. This brings up the bottom menu where you select the apps to multitask between.
    1. jxo's Avatar
      jxo -
      Am curious whether these remote devices can be used to control a PC server/htpc.<br />
      <br />
      Specifically, would like to be able to remotely take my PC in and out of standby mode.<br />
      <br />
      Assume you can use the learning remote functionality to include the keystrokes from a wireless keyboard.<br />
      <br />
      I used to have an IR wireless keyboard but am using an rf one now; I would change to an Ir keyboard if Redeye could be used to "turn on" the htpc with my iTouch so I can access iTunes via its i remote app. TMK, the remote app can't wake up a pc in standby.<br />
      <br />
      The htpc (which runs iTunes) is located with my DAC, preamp and home theater stuff and other equipment all connected via IR repeater/emitters.<br />
      <br />
      Should I be thinking of another power management technique with my pc? How do people manage the power of their servers without manually going to the computer and activating it via keyboard?<br />
    1. The Computer Audiophile's Avatar
      The Computer Audiophile -
      Hi Jim - The answer is it depends. You can try a simple Wake On Lan application on the iPhone to wake your computer. That's the route I would try first. Make sure your network card is WOL capable. <br />
      <br />
      I'm guessing if you had an IR keyboard and an IR port on your compter and that combination worked well, then RedEye would work the same. It just mimics the IR command.
    1. jimim's Avatar
      jimim -
      It's funny all these questions that have come up can ALL be done inside iRule. And all these can be done because Itai is an end user like us. These are all the things HE wanted to be able to do. What separates his program from any other one out there I feel is he listens to us and brings us what we expect from a remote. He just doesn't say, we don't support that. If we can't get a hex code or GC code to work he will help us to get it working.<br />
      <br />
      So to answer your questions:<br />
      <br />
      1. WOL is a new setting in 1.7 of iRule. <br />
      2. Also remember with iRule you can make a virtual keyboard if you like to be able to send HTTP commands to that computer to control it. You can also create shortcuts for any computer command out there and make a button that says this command so you do't have to bring up say a virtual keyboard. MCEcontroller is used so much by all these guys who use windows for media control. They have done some crazy stuff with it.<br />
      <br />
      take a look at this link. It has some of the advanced options for iRule:<br />
      <br />
      http://www.iruleathome.com/tutorials/irule-tutorials.html<br />
      <br />
      jim