- Protective Casing
- User Interface
An iPhone to Rule Them All
Everyone’s experienced the problem of having too many remotes. There’s one for the TV, one for the DVD player, one to control the cable box, another for the stereo system and the list goes on and on. The issue with having so many remotes is that there’s always one which seems to get away from you in a time of need. Not only this, but that little flap in the back that keeps the batteries locked in seems to break every time, no matter how careful you are. So you start to consider a universal remote. But the problem there is that it’s still one more thing to keep track of, its big and cumbersome, and if you don’t have the right set of electronic equipment you’ll find that the universal remote fall short of it’s name.
But what to do? Have no fear because the people at Surc came up with a rather nice solution: Why not turn your iPhone 4 into a universal remote? I mean, it controls much of the rest of your life and you can bet that you’re not going to be “misplacing” that particular device.
Surc has two components, the case which acts as an antenna and the app which allows you to control your other devices.
Once you open the box you will find a well-built case to house your iPhone. It can come in white, black, green, or blue, depending on your preference, and is required at all time you want your iPhone 4 to act as your universal remote. The outside of the case has a nice coating on it that makes it soft to the touch and easy to hold. Not once did my phone slip out of my hands as it has with some other cases. The inside of the case is also lined with black felt, which I thought was a nice touch. The case is one piece so you will need to line up the pin connection with the bottom of your iPhone and literally “snap” it back into position. I had a few reservations about this process as it requires you to connect your iPhone, initially, at a 45 degree angle. Its also a pretty snug fit. The vibrate and power buttons on the iPhone don’t have much wiggle room when locking into position and removing the iPhone was just as tight. There is a small clip at the top center of the case to hold your iPhone in place. Pulling that up and pushing from the back of the iPhone where the Apple logo is, frees your device from the case. I did not do this too often because the installation process was so nerve racking. But no worries, Surc throws in a micro-USB cable that allows you to charge your iPhone as it sits in the case.
The app allows you to index different devices to “rooms.” Click on “Living Room” to display all your home movie theater remotes, etc. Nothing is preset in the Surc app, so you will have to customize it all yourself. Just name your “room” and start adding devices that belong in that room. This is a very simple and straightforward process because the app prompts you for information every step of the way. Just follow the directions. Once you select which device you’d like to sync, the app downloads the required codes for Surc to work. If, for whatever reason, the app does not have a device registered in its database, you can still configure that device by creating a custom device and manually syncing the remote to the iPhone. This was just as straightforward- simply align the IR transmitters of both the remote and Surc. Then systematically assign the control to the corresponding buttons on the iPhone display by pressing them on the actual remote. That will pair up the codes so when you push the Power button on Surc, it will do the same thing as pressing the power button on the remote.
To move from remote to remote, just select the correct room and switch between the remotes assigned to the room. But if you don’t want to have to do this there’s one other option: “Room Remotes.” I particularly liked this feature because it allows you to set one interface that can control multiple devices. You can assign buttons to different tasks on different machines and access them all from one screen.
While I have many remotes in my apartment, the TV is one of the most important. This is probably the same for you and Surc has even integrated a way for you to see a channel guide on its display. Once you’ve registered your cable provider to the Surc app, it will allow you to see the programming on its channels. See something you like and you can immediately change the channel to that show by tapping the “watch it” button.
Want even more customizability? Ask and you shall receive. Surc has designed a way so that you can add iPhone gestures to do different things. I was able to turn my TV on by shaking my iPhone, change channels by tapping the screen, turn my fan on with a right swipe and mute the TV with a quick pinch on the screen.
A lot of thought was put into designing the app as it is very user friendly. And if you become lost or confused at any point, there is a “Help” section that features YouTube videos on everything from installing your iPhone to creating “room remotes.”
While the Surc is certainly an interesting app, I did find it to be a bit unreliable. At times, I’d try to turn on my TV and nothing would happen. The connection to Surc also dropped from time to time and I needed to launch the app all over again. But despite its inconsistency, when it did work, Surc was a really great experience. No longer did I need to worry about losing a remote or replacing its batteries. All I needed was my trusty iPhone 4. And the customizability of the phone really let’s the user decide what devices, and functions are most important.
PROS: Customization- can use it to control any device in the manner of your choosing. Solid iPhone 4 case.
CONS: Functionality is a bit inconsistent at times. Placing the iPhone into the Surc case was a bit nerve racking.