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Review: Griffin Beacon for iPhone

Paul Banas
Author Paul Banas
Submitted 28-09-2011

As a lazy dad who believes that the invention of the remote control is truly proof of God’s existence and New Testament beneficence, we had to try the Griffin Beacon. Griffin Beacon, using technology from Dijit, turns your iPhone or iPad into a universal remote control.

This is a trick that is harder than you might imagine. Griffin had to create a piece of hardware that sits in your living room and needs to pair with your phone over Bluetooth. The Beacon has all major hardware codes within it, allowing your phone to talk to the DVD player, PVR, TV, Cable box without an IR transmitter.

In practice, the Beacon works pretty well, though you might not want to throw out your main remote quite yet. In our experience, we found it a bit cumbersome on the small iPhone screen and while we liked having a universal remote, we gravitated back to our simple Comcast remote for ease of use.

Additionally, sexy features like a functionality to view our Netflix queue, still don’t yet integrate with actually viewing movies on the device or controlling the Netflix feature on our devices.

Still, Griffin is onto something here with their partner app developer, Dijit. Clearly, this app gives us all a taste of Dijit technology is in development and future updates will make the app far stronger, especially when it runs on iPad with more screen space.

The pros:

Set up after you get the Bluetooth pairing down is very intuitive, making adding components a snap

Online program guide is good and future iterations will allow complete integration with social media. This is just the beginning for Dijit and Griffin.

The cons:

You’ve got one more little device (the Beacon) on your coffee table, and while unobtrusive, it’s another piece of clutter

The Beacon uses batteries which will need to be replaced under heavy use

You have to click the Beacon if you change devices, say to your wife’s phone or to the iPad

Our recommendation: Postpone purchase until you download the app and see what you are actually getting since the sizzle may pull you in before you understand the current limits. Even so, we think this technology has legs for the near future.

Griffin Beacon Specs

  • Transforms iPhones and other iOS devices into an easy-to-use, never-lost remote for home entertainment systems
  • Converts Bluetooth signals from iOS device into infrared signals required to control AV components
  • Beacon connects compatible iOS device via Bluetooth with Dijit’s free Universal Remote App
  • iOS device’s MultiTouch screen display becomes the remote with Dijit’s Intuitive Program Guide, allowing users to change channels, volume, input, program DVR and much more
  • Dijit App uses a constantly updated device code library to make setting up controls for TV, set-top box, sound system, media player and more, simple and intuitive
  • For components not yet included in Dijit’s library, the App also includes an integrated learning feature
  • Powered by 4 AA batteries

Beacon, $79.99, is now shipping and available at The Apple Store and onwww.griffintechnology.com. Dijit’s Universal Remote App, a free download, can be found on The iTunes App Store.