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New iPod Remote Control Has 50 Meter Range

By Gene J. Koprowski MacNewsWorld ECT News Network
May 16, 2006 5:00 AM PT

A U.K.-based maker of iPod accessories, Gear4, last week unveiled a new remote control with a 50-meter range for all iPods, making it the first RF-control for the iPod Nano on the European market. The device is called a "CruiseControl."

New iPod Remote Control Has 50 Meter Range

Earlier remote controls for the iPod sat on top of the music player and employed the device's remote port. Interestingly, the CruiseControl is operated from the iPod dock connector, and even features a headphone amplifier. There's also a port on the bottom of the device, thereby allowing users to plug their headphones in for the first time, as other dock-connector remotes block the nano's headphone port.

"There are many times when I'm either out running or on my bike when a song comes on my iPod that I want to skip past or turn it up, and I have to stop and fumble around to get hold of my iPod to do so," said Tom Dudderidge, managing director of London-based Disruptive Technology Channels, a reseller.

Click Forward

With the CruiseControl, all the user has to do is click forward on his remote and he's up and running.

"It is so practical, and can have so many great uses," said Dudderidge. "You can have your iPod running through your car stereo and keep it safely in the glove compartment so you don't have to lean over to change a track."

What's more, he noted, one can also also keep the player out of sight when on the move to keep it away from thieves.

The developer said that the CruiseControl has a 50 meter Radio Frequency (RF) range -- more than 100 feet -- that is not inhibited by walls. The remote receiver, moreover comes complete with a USB port, meaning that users can still work the device while it's charging.

The GEAR4 CruiseControl is priced at GBP24.99, about US$35, and is available globally from GEAR4's online store.

Strong Signal

The innovation of this device clearly seems to be the ability to broadcast its RF signal through walls. Most RF remote control devices for the iPod, like those from iJet, Griffin and others, suffer reduced signal strength, or approximately 3db, every 30 feet.

Since most wireless remotes for the iPod provided just a 60-foot range, just one wall will reduce the signal to a range that makes one's remote relatively ineffective in and around an average size American home.

Now that wireless remote control of iPods is becoming an issue, electronic security, for the first time, might become a legitimate issue for iPod owners. Users might want to start to think about encrypting their iPod data, using mobile encryption software from developer Credant. The software can detect when "banned applications are being activated," and then block them from retrieving the necessary files to launch, said Karin Taylor, a spokesperson for the security developer, based in Addison, Texas.

iPod a Remote Too?

Interestingly, the iPod itself, hackers say, can be turned into a universal infrared (IR) remote control, which can be used to control all of one's home electronic equipment, including the TV, DVD player, DirecTV, universal media center, PC, Xbox, XM Satellite Radio, and other gadgets, like the Roomba.

To do this, one can simply record the "sounds" an infrared remote makes on a PC, and then, put them on the iPod as songs. By adding a special sound-to-IR converter, which turns those sounds back to IR, you can use your iPod as a remote control. As an added feature, it can work from up to 100 feet away.

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