The PS3’s lack of an IR port is a problem that I’ve moaned about before, and I’m certainly not the only one. When you have excellent universal remotes that cost anything up to and beyond £200 and control dozens of appliances, from the TV and DVD player to the 360 and the lighting system, it’s not that appealing to have to spend £20 on a hulking great Bluetooth remote that isn’t even backlit.
Enter the IR2BT.
This isn’t the first way around the problem that I’ve tried. I bought a Darklite, which works mostly but co-opts the PS3’s first controller port, which is problematic for some games that require the controller to be there, and can’t fast forward and rewind any movie with BD-Java, which is a significant number of modern releases. Any one that has a loading screen before the menus load, essentially.
The IR2BT is notable as a Bluetooth-enabled way around Sony’s oversight that provides all the functions of the official remote. It’s a smallish box (size comparison here) with an IR receiver and a Bluetooth transmitter. All it does is translate the old PS2 IR codes – which any universal remote should support in some form – into Bluetooth for the PS3, and it’s even already in the Logitech Harmony database. That’s all most of us universal remote owners want, and it’s an elegantly simple way around the omission.
It’s powered either by two AA batteries or a mini-USB connection. I have a hub connected to my 360’s rear USB port for this very purpose (it already handles my HDMI switch), so I went with the latter option. It attaches inside the battery bay with a notch cut into the housing to feed the cable out so that it’s all neat, which I thought was a nice touch. The ability to be USB-powered is a big plus for small devices like this in my book, so bonus points for including that.
Pairing it with the PS3 is a matter of going through the setup procedure for the official Bluetooth remote and using the ‘2’ button on the remote to tell it to pair with the console. It took less than a minute, and can be seen in more detail on video here.
Once I’d satisfied the perfectionist in me and got the buttons set up on my Harmony exactly how I wanted them (any Harmony owner can tell you what a long process that can be if you find out that one button isn’t doing exactly what you want), all was well. My IR remote now controls the PS3 perfectly, as it really should have done from the start. And now that Sony only seems to cut features from each successive PS3 model – even though I could buy an IR board for less than £1 – and has a nice little sideline in selling Bluetooth remotes to the AV crowd, I don’t see an official solution on the way.
My only complaint can be that the distribution of the IR2BT appears to be essentially a bedroom outfit, and as such it can be difficult to secure one and then just as long to wait for it to ship. I’m not going to let it affect my high opinion of the device itself, but it’s a pain to wait up to three weeks for yours to ship because they only have the distribution infrastructure to send out 50 a day. Either they need to be more ambitious with it or someone with the ability to manufacture such products in a decent timeframe needs to do so, because the way that the IR2BT site can be crashed whenever there’s a release of them shows what kind of demand there is.