Engineered Audio iPod RemoteRemote Review

Keyfob remote

March 3, 2004

The receiver When it comes to freeing gadgets from the tyranny of wires, there is no limit on practicality, no point at which you can say, “that's just overkill”, because wireless anything is almost always better than the wired alternative. Engineered Audio's RemoteRemote, a wireless remote control for the iPod, takes control of your iPod to the next level by giving you an untethered remote that lets you change songs from across the room. It's even more useful when you're on the go and don't have a suitable place to clip the wired remote, or you just can't have wires being routed all over your body. For example, when snowboarding, I keep the iPod warm inside my jacket and have the remote in my glove — a more practical and cheaper alternative to the Burton Amp jacket.

The receiver compared to AA batteryThe unit came in three pieces: the remote, battery, and receiver. The remote is the same size and shape as a car alarm keyfob, with five buttons to control the iPod: play/pause, previous, next, volume up, and volume down. The remote is available in both black and white colors, but I suspect most buyers would opt for the white version. The receiver is about the size of a AA battery, with a headphone jack on one end and a 10" cable on the other end that connects to the iPod. Before you begin using it, you must pry open the remote and install the battery. The installation is complete once you connect the receiver to the iPod. The manual states that you need to synchronize the remote to the receiver, but my unit worked right off the bat without any help. The synchronization enables you to associate up to 5 remotes to a single receiver.

The RemoteRemote worked exactly as promised, with a consistent operating range of about 6 feet. I was able to sporadically control the iPod from about 20 feet away, but that was about as far as I could get. The orientation of the receiver made a big difference in the maximum range, as noted in the FAQ. Since the receiver drew power from the iPod, using the remote frequently or leaving it plugged in over many days had somewhat of an impact on battery life — nothing too egregious, but noticeable nonetheless.

There were just a couple things that I thought needed some improvement. First of all, the remote's hold function was very inconvenient. In order to put the remote on hold and disable the buttons, you had to hold down the volume up and volume down buttons for 5 seconds, and then hit the play button. To bring it out of hold, you had to hold down the volume up and volume down for another 5 seconds. As a result, if the remote wasn't working, you had no idea if it was actually broken or just in the hold state. A physical switch, like the one on the Apple remote, would seem to make a whole lot more sense.

Receiver plugged into an iPod Secondly, the receiver's connection to the iPod positioned the cable to the right side of the iPod, directly over the main hold switch. The presence of the cable over the hold switch made it impossible to toggle the switch without removing the connector. The left side of the iPod had absolutely no obstructions, so I was baffled by why they chose the right side instead. Although the iPod mini wouldn't have a problem in this scenario, the RemoteRemote was designed months before the mini was introduced so that's no excuse.

Nevertheless, the $40 RemoteRemote is a great accessory to the iPod, and should be considered by anyone thinking about buying the Apple remote, especially since there is only a $1 difference (mostly because Apple, in their generous ways, doesn't sell their remote without a pair of headphones).

Technical Specifications

Keyfob Remote Receiver
Dimensions: 2.2" x 1.4" x 0.5"
Power: 3v (CR2032)
Modulation: AM/OOK
Frequency: 315Mhz
Dimensions: 2.2" x 0.8". x 0.6"
Power: 3.3v, 4mA peak (from the iPod)
Cable length: 10"
Receiver type: Superhetrodyne 315 MHz

More Info