This lack of basic compatibility resulted in a sad state of affairs for remote consolidationists everywhere, as any home theater system that incorporated a PS3 would forever need a minimum of two remotes: one for the PS3, and a second for everything else. For anyone who has invested time and money into a decent universal remote control system, this situation simply could not stand.
Where there’s a will...
Sony themselves were curiously uninterested in a solution. Remote Central was the first to bring you a new method of integrating control of the PS3 into any universal remote control, using a couple of PS2 accessories and the PS3’s USB port. This solution operated just 14 functions, not nearly as comprehensive as the official Bluetooth remote’s 51, but still better than nothing. A large number of PS3 owners were more than willing to give up some degree of control to maintain the status quo of a single remote on their coffee table. This solution ended up working well enough that there are now several professionally made aftermarket solutions that condense the original ungainly collection of doodads down into a single discreet USB dongle.
But something still nagged at PS3 owners everywhere. Was it the 37 missing buttons? The tendency of these USB-based controllers to have a lethargic feel during use? Or maybe the fact that it was impossible to power the PS3 on and off by remote? Although a more recent PS3 firmware upgrade did add a way to turn the console off through the Cross Media Bar, this wasn’t the case for quite some time – and it remains impossible to this day to turn the PS3 on via USB.
If you can’t beat them...
So if Bluetooth is the only method of complete control supported by Sony, then it’s Bluetooth that will have to be used!
Thanks to innovative entrepreneurs recognizing a problem, sensing a market, and developing a solution, there are now several products available designed to take infrared commands from a standard remote control and convert them into Bluetooth commands for the PlayStation 3. Regardless of price, all of these devices are capable of replicating everything that Sony’s official Bluetooth remote control can do – from a full complement of 51 Blu-ray commands, to powering on the console. They’re also wireless in the sense that they don’t attach physically to the PlayStation 3, and only need to be placed within 30 feet of the system to work.
In this review I’ll be looking at 7 different Bluetooth solutions, representing everything currently available on the market. Considering that these products are designed to replace a $20 accessory remote control on a console that should probably have had infrared capabilities to start with, you might be surprised to see that their prices range from $40 all the way up to $159 – but there’s more to them than meets the eye.
At the economical end you’ll find do-it-yourself kits that require additional purchases, while many of the more expensive models are all-in-one solutions that offer advanced capabilities such as wired IR inputs, variable-based discrete power control, hardware power sensing, PC-based configuration, user upgradable firmware, multiple code sets and built-in user macros.