Well lets start off by repeating that as posted on the ThinkFlood websitethis is a BETA” product.” I mention this because not only was it available for a significant discount off the eventual retail price (which worked for me!), but because the company is still doing significant development to make the product better.

You might be asking yourself, “What is RedEye and why should I care?” Good question! It is a device coupled with an iPhone app that allows you to control all your A/V  equipment through WiFi . This is a great idea that has been attempted before with IR blasters, but no one has brought in the power of the iPhone application to control all the devices in the stereo cabinet.  Which is why I was attracted to this solution in the first place. I wanted my stereo equipment (Tuner/Amp, CD/DVD, surround speakers) to work in my newly painted and redecorated living room, but didn’t want to look at all the components sitting on a shelf collecting dust.

So I went to IKEA and bought a cabinet with a solid door so that I could close off the components to the outside world. So what’s the problem you ask? With the solid door, I couldn’t get an IR signal to control the devices. Not really a big deal when you consider I’d only have to open the door and turn on the Amp and then close the door; then open the door and adjust the volume and then close the door… Well you get the idea.

So as every good tech enthusiast asks, “Why expend energy when we have a technological solution to throw at the problem?” So I got on their site and ordered it through Amazon. After a few hiccups the product shipped out and arrived at my house a few days later.

First the packaging- really great job on all the design and how it is displayed! It looks top notch.

When I started to do the install I realized that I had some space limitations- it was difficult to get the unit inside the cabinet to send a signal to the devices so I had to jiggle with that a bit. But I am getting ahead of myself. Let me explain how it seems to work.

There is a device that sits on or near the stereo equipment which flashes a blue light (looks pretty cool) that is “seen” by the IR receiver on the device(s) and controls all manner of functions. This device has a WiFi receiver built in so it gets the signal from the iPhone and transmits it to the stereo equipment.

The other part of the system is a free app that you download for your iPhone or iPod Touch that gives you a neat, clean interface to control the devices. So I could be sitting in my chair and fire up my iPhone (which of course is more readily available to me than that darned remote which keeps getting lost) and adjust the volume, change the station, flip on a CD or anything I could do with the regular remote(s). Best part? This solution is also a universal remote so I can do it all from one device. At least in theory, and here is where you have to go back to the first paragraph. Repeat after me- Its still in BETA!

So one thing to keep in mind is that everyone sets up stereo components after they’ve been drinking a bit (oh, wait- is that just me?) So the instructions seemed a bit cumbersome and didn’t make sense until I realized that not only could you control something in the living room, but you could control multiple rooms (as long as you are within range of the device). You have to use WiFi, so switch your iPhone to WiFi then initially look for the RedEye device and connect to it. You add your component by name in the setup screen, and add commands by capturing the remote setting by holding the remote to the device. Sometimes it works, sometimes not.

So after trying a bit more for about an hour, I gave up and went to bed. When I opened the iPhone app the next day and connected to my home network (as in the instructions) the app looked and looked but couldn’t find the device. So as I do with most electronic devices that aren’t behaving, I unplugged it and plugged it back in. Then I got the stereo to turn on! Awesome!

So I closed the door to the cabinet and tried again. Nothing. I could see the device flashing but no change. So (and this is because of my cabinet door) I taped a piece of silver tape (usually used for HVAC) and it bounces the light off and turns devices on or off pretty well. Except when I get “Network Time out” errors on the application.

The company has been updating the app on a regular basis which is great and making it somewhat more reliable, but I still have some issues with the UI. You set up commands for each “room”, and then group the commands (ie turn on amp, turn on CD, press play on CD) into activities. So I get this, but it doesn’t always work. So I think there might be a way to have more of a step by step system in the app to walk through what would be likely use cases for 90% of the population, then hide the setup stuff unless it is needed.

Also when the app starts it looks for the rooms (I guess it tries to contact the device and read the info stored in RAM) and most times it just looks and never finds the device). When it does find the device, it tells me I have to select the room before I can do anything. But I only have one room. So it should know that and autoselect so I can just go to my activities.

Finally it is a bit slow. In this world of insta-on, it takes a bit of getting used to. What I mean is that you have to wait a bit for the command to get sent to the device, then for the device to respond. If you keep hitting the command it will either time out or eventually all the commands will get sent and the volume will go up, up, up! All in all, I love the concept, and am eagerly looking forward to having some of these small bugs worked out!