Gratuitous history of World Central: I wired our new house with CAT 5 when we built it in 2001 and dedicated a walk-in closet my wife calls "World Central" to electronics equipment for entertainment, security, intercom, Internet, phone, backup power, and whole-house controls. The best has been the IR receivers in the study. living room, kitchen, and three bedrooms--each with its own TV set. I installed Bose sattelite speakers in their ceilings and in four other rooms.
Early issue for this forum: Long before DirecTV's laudable new systems, any eight occupants of our house could use a universal IR remote to call up six different video programs and two separate or associated audio programs. I asked this forum for help a time or two--with deteriorating IR signals at teh devices they control. I didn't know what to call IR blasters, but I asked if some sort of powerful wholesale saturation of World Central could be accomplished with big-ass infra-red. Of course it could--after a year or two--and that problem seems behind us now. I watch stuff inside World Central on little X10 cams and see the big emitters by Logitech and Xantech and others flashing away all around its narrow confines.
What about our radio-controled stuff? With this closed IR circuit, I didn't expect the CAT 5 to become an issue, but I suppose heat, tiny local earthquakes, and maybe an exploring standard poodle have caused our new problem. First, the upstairs Xantech IR connector block stopped working and, now, the liing room IR receiver too. I figured it would be tedious but routine to correct those things, but while I'm at it, I might as well put garage doors, fans, various lights and appliances, and the odd entertainment gear controlled by RF into the same mix.
Our old IR remotes: Putting them into the same mix means controlling them with the same universal remotes, old Sony classics, RM-VL900s. We have more than a dozen, since I keep buying bargains here and there for my wife's sake. I've bought four newer Sony universals for less than the 900s cost, and they're more capable if in some ways less apt, but she declines to learn any different remote, having had 13 years to accommodate herself to the Sony classics. They give out, but I have spares. Easier for one RM-VL900 to tutor another than for me to tutor my reluctant wife.
Teaching the old IR remotes to do RF tricks: I hoped I could teach our IR universals what the RFs do, and that worked. Even making some components work double-duty, though, I find some stuff that needs crossing oer from IR to RF or vice versa. At Christmastime, guests needed things to work while the wired IR net was partially out, so I bought some X10 Powermids. One transmitter works like gangbusters, two barely communicate, and one I just acquired through eBay doesn't show any sign of working with any of the four receivers, no matter what the spacing.
X10 Powermids' reputation for weak transmitters: I had heard these things are lame, but I didn't think I needed to cover much distance. After all, I can send signals very short distances just to trigger the wired IR receivers. That strategy has proven out.
But I also want the house to become RF-friendlier. I see all sorts of RF extenders, most apparently convert IR to RF at the sender's end and then reconvert signals to IR at the device end inside World Central. Cheaper, simpler systems utilize wiring. Maybe there are other configurations.
OK, here's the question I set out to ask: What's best, please? What's the best way to blend RF with IR?
What's this Samsung IR blaster I picked up cheap? It came with the most paltry description and largely useless instructions. What I've been able to download adds to the confusion. What's it intended do, and how does it work? Is it just another double converter setup, IR-to-RF plus RF-to-IR ? Or does it work with the gizmos in our smart TVs, gizmos it's supposed to be paired with in some way that lends it extra magic of some description?
Are there ways to extend the range of our RF remote signals other than those I've already mentioned? I ask because I've been impressed with the reach of our garage door remotes and, even more, with the range of home links that car makers started providing in the early '90s, the ones in sun visors. If that stuff is OK with the FCC, you'd think RF whole-house control could achieve a lot of range, enough to be, as a Russian friend says, "a piece of pie" or "easy as cake."