You can plenty of electrical appliances controlled with their own infrared remote control around your house or/and office, and wish you could just control then with one and only remote. There are already universal remote controls for sale, and they may be great for devices in the same room, but not so convenient to control device in multiple rooms. The good news is that you can now transform you phone into a universal infrared remote control thanks to ZaZaRemote app available for Android or iOS, even if your phone does not come with a built-in IR transmitter.
ZaZaRemote with 3.5mm IR Transmitter (Top left), USB OTG IR learning dongle (Top right) , 3.5mm IR learning dongle (Bottom right)
There are three accessories available to add IR functionality to your smartphone:
An IR transmitter than you can connected into the 3.5m,m audio jack of your smartphone.
A USB OTG dongle that’s both an IR transmitter and receiver used to learn the remote control. (40 mm long)
An IR transmitter and receiver dongles that connects to the 3.5mm audio jack of your smartphone
The audio jack IR transmitter sells for just $1.09 on tinydeal, and since it cannot learn the IR code of your remote control, you have to relies on the remote control database in ZaZaRemote app that contains between 58,000 to 160,000 remotes depending where you read. The database is user generated, so it evolves everyday.
If you want to play it safe, and make sure it will support your remote, you’ll need to USB OTG or audio jack dongle with IR Learning function, the former is sold for $10 on Aliexpress + 2 or 3 dollars for shipping. I could not find the audio jack dongle on Chinese e-retailers site in English, but it’s available on Taobao for 68 RMB (~$11). Bear in mind that you can to make sure your phone supports USB OTG for the OTG dongle to work. The company also posted a disclaimer saying the audio jack may not work on all smartphones.
ZaZaRemote App ScreenShot (Click to Enlarge)
The application allows to control all sort of devices including TVs, set-top boxes, media players, amplifiers, air conditioners, cameras and more… You can also re-arrange the remote button on the screen as your please. If you have one of the dongle with IR learning functionality, you can also submit your device’s remote control to the service using the “Synchronise Configuration” menu of the app.
In most of my reviews, I don’t use the IR remote control that comes with the device but instead Mele F10 air mouse, because it’s just more convenient for Android as it features one side with a standard remote, one side with a QWERTY keyboard, and a gyroscope that let you move the mouse pointer like a magic wand. Last year Mele released the Pro version with microphone and headphone support, but I’ve heard some people complain as it would just take over the audio output by default, and you’d get no audio via HDMI, until you change the setting manually. Nevertheless, Mele has now another version called Mele F10 Deluxe, without microphone nor headphone support, but instead it’s an improvement over the original Mele F10 air mouse with a better gyroscope and the ability to record some IR codes from another remote control.
The 6-axis gyroscope is said to be good enough to allow game play, but there may be a limited number of games supported (TBC). The IR learning function can be activated via the “A.I Power” button as the top which must stand for “Alternative Input” and you can record power on/off, left, right, up, down, confirm/enter, volume +, and volume – from the infrared remote control of another device.
Here are some of the technical details:
Radio Frequency – 2.4GHz RF up to 10 meters range
USB – Mini USB for charging
Sensors – 6-axis gyroscope, G-sensor
Battery – Build-in 500 mAh Lithium battery; standby time: over 200 days
Button Lifespan – Over 100,000 times
Mele F10 Deluxe works with Android, Windows XP/Vista/7/8, Mac OS, and Linux. The remote ships with a small USB RF receiver to connect your device or computer, a mini USB cable for charging the air mouse, and user’s manual.
Mele F10 Deluxe is currently available for pre-order for $34.99 on Mele’s Aliexpress store, but you can get $5 discount by mentioning you’ve been referred by CNX Software in the comment field, bringing the price down to $29.99. You’ll need to wait until the end of June to get the air mouse shipped. The company is also planning to send me a sample, so you can expect a review soon.
Up to now, I always connected USB keyboard and mouse to Android mini PCs I tested. It works but it’s not always fun to use. Mele F10 Fly mouse is a dual sided 2.4GHz remote control with one side being somewhat of a standard remote, while the other side is a QWERTY keyboard. A gyroscope is also integrated in to the remote, which allows it to be used as a “magic” remote and mouse the mouse pointer. I’ve bought one on DealExtreme for $25.20, and I’ll do a short review about the remote today, even though it’s not exactly a new device.
Mele F10 Unboxing
I’ve received the F10 in a slightly damaged package. This happens often as to save on costs packages are often sent in bubble mailers, but all items I’ve received have usually worked fine.
The other sides of the package indicate Mele F10 can be used in Windows 98SE/Me/2000/XP/Vista/7, Mac OS, Android, and Linux operating system, and that the device is FCC and CE certified. The device size is 169 x 48 x 19mm, its weight 160g.
Mele F10, RF Adapter, and User’s Manual (Click to Enlarge)
Inside the package, we’ll find the remote itself, a small 2.4GHz USB adapter, a USB to mini USB cable for charging, a sheet of paper that serves both as a user’s manual and a warranty card.
We’ve got the QWERTY keyboard, the standard remote, and a mini USB port for charging. There’s also an emplacement on the right on the mini PC port which is not populated, but that on some model is used to fit a microphone to be able to use voice commands. Not shown in the picture above, is a LED that blinks when you press a key, and when the internal battery needs to be recharged. There’s also an IR transmitter at the front of the remote, but this is most probably useful for Mele’s own set-top box only (Edit: It’s only used for the Power button). If you use a Linux box with an IR sensor, you could also record the remote code with lirc, and create a specific file. I don’t know how this is handled in Android.
Mele F10 Review
The battery was already charged when I received it, but it’s probably a good idea to charge it before use. To get started, you need to connect the 2.4GHZ USB Adapter to your device/computer, and the very first time, press the right mouse button (Back) and the left mouse button (Enter) at the same time for 2 seconds to synchronize the mouse, and when the pointer disappears press one of the mouse buttons again. I only did this in the first device I tried, and the remote just worked straight-away with the other devices.
I connected the USB adapter into G-Box Midnight MX2, MK908, and my Linux PC, and it worked immediately without any extra set-up required.
This kind of 3-in-1 remote is really awesome when using with Android touch based applications such as a web browser, navigating Android menu, etc… The only flaw I found is that the mouse pointer alignment seems to shift overtime, and you have to recalibrate it manually, by hitting the sides of the screen. The video below shows this issue and the “fix” clearly. If you have small hands, the qwerty keyboard may feel a little too long, and you may have to stretch out to reach the keys in the middle.
In XBMC application which is designed for IR remote, it’s possible to use the arrow keys to navigate, but the OK button is the right mouse (Enter) button, and the center button in the middle of the remote which is counter-intuitive. There’s also not play/pause, ffwd and frwd keys found on typical set-top box, so you have to use the mouse pointer for those controls. In XBMC Linux, AFAIK, I know there’s a way to configure keys, but I don’t know if it’s feasible in Android (Edit: Yes, we can reconfigure key assignments, see comment). However, Mute and Volume -/+ buttons work properly on the remote which is a plus.
After seeing one of the latest Mele videos where they showed a game (Similar to TurboFly 3D) controlled by a fly mouse, I kind of hoped some of the games could take advantage of the F10 gyroscope, but that’s not the case. You can play games such as Angry Bird Star Wars using the mouse pointer controlled by the Mele, and I can indeed play TurboFly 3D, but only in keyboard mode by using the arrow keys to control the spaceship, and mouse button to fire. I contacted Mele for details, and they replied “Most game can not played by the current F10 fly mouse”, which implies a new version should be released with the most popular games supported.
In the video below, I show Mele F10 used with the Android Browser, XBMC, and Angry Birds. I also show the “calibration” issue of the remote.
In conclusion, Mele F10 is a very good device for many applications in Android, and I did not experience the frustration I got with standard IR remotes in Android. However, the current button arrangement is not ideal for XBMC, and none of the games I tried could make use of the gyroscope, although I could play some games in mouse and remote modes.
In newer version, I’d like them to fix the “alignment” issue, provide some play/pause, ffwd, frwd… keys for media player applications, and support more games with the gyroscope. A Bluetooth version would also be useful as many recent Android mini PCs and set-top boxes come with built-in Bluetooth.
Remote Solution, a small technology company based in Hong Kong South Korea, has shown off an Android 4.0 powered keyboard controlling an Android STB at CES 2013. The device is designed to be used as an advanced TV remote control, looks like a small tablet with 8 control button, and can be inserted into a full sized QWERTY keyboard for faster typing.
The specifications are as follows:
SoC – ARM Cortex-A8 processor @ 720 MHz (I’d guess a TI OMAP3 or Sitara processor at this freq)
System Memory – 512MB RAM
Storage – 2GB flash
Display – 3.5″ touchscreen display (480 x 320)
Connectivity – WiFi and Bluetooth
Misc – IR port to be used as a universal remote.
The touchscreen allows you to launch apps on your TV, move a cursor by using a virtual touch-pad, use an on-screen keyboard (when the screen is not connected to the keyboard), enter voice-commands via the built-in microphone, etc…
There’s currently no pricing or availability information availability. and the company does not appear to have a website. There’s no mention about this device in the company website, but this could be part of their TSR series.