an app that turns a smartphone into a universal remote
control isnít a technological quad somersault off the
3-meter board anymore.
Innovations, obviously, didnít want to flop headfirst
into the pool of same-old, Bluetooth-connected
accessories/apps that command a television, Blu-ray
player and DVR. For its first product, the crowdfunded
company in Lenexa, Kan., added music-streaming powers to
a stout little remote-control accessory named Blumoo.
Judges, please note the enhanced degree of difficulty.
is a $129.99 remote-streamer combo that occupies a
smartphone or tablet, Apple and now Android, better than
more sophisticated separates like an Apple TV
music-video streamer ($99) and Universal Remoteís
URC-A6 ($19.99)? Maybe not to this judge, but Blumoo is
much cuter than either.
arched backward like a slightly tipsy beer stein, stands
less than 3 inches tall, with a semitranslucent
polycarbonate HomeBase body framed in brushed aluminum
by what looks like a handle. Drink up! Or maybe order up
another command: Blumooís infrared transmitter is
compatible with more than 200,000 home-entertainment
line of communication works like this: The free app,
which includes the remote-control database for all (or
most of) your home-entertainment equipment, sends
commands via Bluetooth 4.0 (and its 150-foot range) to
Blumoo, which then beams infrared commands instructing
an HDTV to turn on, access a Blu-ray movie menu or
change channels on a cable box.
kangaroo tail leads to an injection-molded harness with
connectors for a power supply, an audio cable that
connects to an audio-video receiver or soundbar and an
infrared extender if the HomeBase signal cannot reach
some of your components. Flyover Innovations does not
include an extender, nor does it sell one on its
website. (Generic extenders start at about $10.)
Blumoo were a permanent part of my home theater, Iíd
need one. Blumoo could not communicate with my HDTV,
audio-video receiver and cable box unless it was on the
floor, in front of the equipment, in a high-traffic
matter how deep a database, some components turn their
backs on remotes like Blumoo. If they donít connect
immediately, the Blumoo keeps sending codes until the
component responds or it runs out of codes. At least the
Blumoo is honest.
donít have the right code for that action,"
appeared on the screen more than once.
Blumoo couldnít learn how to turn an Apple TV on or
off, though it could navigate its menu. Though the
PlayStation 3 is listed as a streaming device in the
Blumoo appís database, it did not work with mine. Yet
despite listing only DVRs, it worked with a Motorola
in my home theater, Blumoo was batting .600: It worked
with a Pioneer receiver, Panasonic plasma HDTV and cable
box but not with an Apple TV or PS3. The latter two are
notorious noncommunicators ó the PS3 comes with a
Bluetooth, not infrared remote ó so have faith in
a painless setup, Blumoo operated like a stand-alone
remote. Itís the best remote-control app Iíve tried
at setting up multifunction commands, or macros: After
entering several individual commands, I could later
press a single button and simultaneously power on the
HDTV, the cable box and the Pioneer receiver and then
shift the receiver to its TV mode.
still isnít as good as a dedicated remote control, but
it does more. A program guide downloads automatically to
the app and provides both reminders and recommendations
based on what youíve watched.
it streams. But this streamer uses Bluetoothís common
A2DP profile, not the higher-quality aptX technology.
Instead of sending music to my audio system from an
iPhone via Blumoo, I could send it to the Apple TV via
Blumoo app, for now, streams Spotify, Rdio, Pandora and
iTunes Radio, but this is only the beginning.
Innovations, which made Blumoo an open-source hardware
platform available to developers, added Android
compatibility and an iOS app update recently. Already,
itís smarter than the everyday remote-control app.
good: Controls home-entertainment devices, streams music
to a connected audio system.
not so good: Despite extensive database, will not work
with all components. Might need IR extender for stacked
components. Music streaming limited by Bluetooth.