Ever since the faithful old infrared port started disheartening from Palm Pilots, I've been wondering how one might replicate the functionality of the universal remote control programs that graced PalmOS. Today Android owners can get a simulacrum of that experience with the Griffin's Beacon Universal Remote Control system, which will connect with Dijit Media's remote app to control any home theater device with an IR remote. The $69.99 system is shipping from Griffin and major retailers now.
It works like this: the Beacon, an unassuming device about the size of a hockey puck, sits on your coffee table or near your entertainment system. The Beacon pairs with your Android phone or tablet via Bluetooth, and the Dijit app for Android (a free download in the Android Market) controls your TV, cable or satellite box, DVD/Blu-ray player, et cetera by sending commands through the infrared port on the Beacon. The Dijit app also features comprehensive TV listing and a full Honeycomb interface.
The idea isn't exactly new, since Griffin's had a similar device available for the iPhone for a while. But the Android version of the Beacon should work with just about any Android device, and for home theater junkies $69.99 is a fair price to pay for functionality that's at least as good as one of Logitech's Harmony remotes. This also makes the infrared port on the Vizio tablet somewhat obsolete, since universal remote capability can now be added to the tablet of your choice - Amazon Kindle Fire, anyone?