When I purchased my Denon surround system, my wife was irritated that we needed yet another remote for her to make things work in the living room. I already had resorted to getting a so called “universal” remote for our television and cable box to make things easier on her – to make things easier and because somehow she had lost the original television remote. Now with prospect of having to learn yet another remote (and potentially lose said remote), she was quite unhappy when I told her that our main remote wasn’t so “universal” after all. Apparently the model we had purchased last year won’t work with the system I got this year. Thankfully salvation came my way in the form of the VooMote Zapper.
While lost remotes are a common thing in households across the globe, most people always have their iPhones (or iPads) close at hand. That’s the beauty of the VooMote Zapper – rather than being a normal remote control, it’s actually a small dongle that plugs in to the bottom of your Apple device (yes, iPods are included as well) that transforms your iOS device into a fully functional truly universal remote. Now I’ve already reviewed a device that used the sound output on an iPhone to control an infrared device (the Griffin Helicopter), but this is the first time I’ve seen something like this that works through the charging port.
The VooMote Zapper has a fairly large bank of codes stored within it already, and that makes set up an absolute breeze – but what if down the road you get a new piece of hardware that isn’t in its memory? Well that’s where the power of the VooMote truly comes into play. Just by pointing your normal remote at the VooMote and going through the program, you can basically “teach” it what to do. As an example, you could make a blank program, push a button on the iOS device screen and say it is supposed to be the volume, then push the volume on the regular remote, and voila! The transmitted code is stored, and that button will from then on function as the volume for that specific piece of hardware.
It’s a bit harder to explain that it is to actually make work, and unlike some of the more expensive Logitech Harmony remotes, the VooMote Zapper can be set up anywhere, and isn’t tied to a computer. In all actuality, you don’t need a computer at all to make this work, which makes it more useable for more people. I’ll go on record saying that no matter the angle I tried this on, no matter the lighting in the room, and no matter the device – the VooMote Zapper worked like a champ (as long as you have it programmed right).
Unfortunately it’s not all wine and roses with the VooMote Zapper, no matter how much I would like it to be. For starters, whatever device you start using it with will end up being nothing but your remote. The VooMote Zapper itself is very tiny, and it could be lost even easier than a normal remote would. While it’s true you can take it out when you’re not using it, I just don’t think it’s a very feasible solution. In the future, they may want to consider building a case around it so you could always have it close by. Of course to make that happen, they’re going to have to address the second major issue I had with the VooMote Zapper – the drain on your battery life. You see, the VooMote Zapper doesn’t allow your iOS device to go into sleep mode. I’m not entirely sure why it’s designed to keep it awake at all times, because it’s not like it takes an absurdly long amount of time to turn your iOS device on and run the app.
Another issue, albeit a much smaller issue than the prior two, is that fact that setting custom buttons is a very time intensive procedure. Not only that, but I had quite a few times that I had to try and reprogram a button over and over because my timing was off by a second or two. I’m not sure the easiest way to fix this, but I’m sure someone smarter than me could work it out (even if it’s just increasing the timeout duration). At any rate, the VooMote Zapper has a lot of potential to make your other remotes green with envy, but it still needs some work to fully realize what it could be.
The Bottom Line: Smaller than any other remote you have, yet with more features (including gesture control, and the ability to add as many devices as you’d like) the VooMote Zapper could be the end all be all of remotes, if only they could fix the nagging issues around it.
- You can use gesture control to take care of things, which really makes routine commands like controlling the volume fun again
- The VooMote Zapper can hold any number of devices in its memory, which means it will grow with every new piece of hardware you acquire
- It will literally support any IR device you have in your house, even things like a Hauppauge PVR
- It’s extremely hard to dedicate one of your iOS devices to be nothing more than a remote
- The drain on the battery of your device is more than significant – it’s pretty severe (and you can’t charge the iOS device while using it)
- If you don’t already have an iPhone, iPad, or iPod, that it’s not going to be cost effective at all to get one of these over a normal remote.
You can get your very own VooMote Zapper from Amazon for $69.00