The VooMote Zapper, available for iPod Touch, iPhone and iPad, is a hardware device, with accompanying software, that you plug into your device and it allows you to use it as a remote control. It’s made by zero1.tv, a start-up company based in Berlin, Germany.
In the box you get the Zapper hardware (a small rectangular device that plugs into the bottom of your Apple device) and a small instructions booklet. When you first plug in the Zapper you’ll find your iOS device will recognise it and prompt you to install the free software. Upon starting the Zapper software the device’s screen flips upside down – as the infra-red transmitter 1 has to sit at the bottom the screen has to slip so that you can hold it upside down. It does this superbly though. The screen also remains on whilst your are in the Zapper App so you don’t have to keep switching it back on to change a channel.
You divide all of your devices into the rooms in which you have them (the idea is that you’ll likely to have your iPhone, etc, with you wherever in the house you are). From there you can select from a list your individual devices or you can select a more generic equivalent and it will attempt to work out your device by attempting to transmit a number of times to it – each time you state whether it worked or not. If all else fails you can set the device up a button a time – more on that later.
Ok, let’s assume you’ve set up your rooms and devices. You’ll now find that switched to each device will show a number of screens on which are the various controls. Screens are moved via the standard swipe action. If you swipe to the left of the initial screen you’ll find yourself on a blank gesture control screen – simply use some pretty obvious gestures to control your device without having to look for the buttons. On a TV, left and right changes the volume and up and down the channel for instance.
If you’re missing buttons or the default layout isn’t to your choosing you can select the edit option. From here you can add new buttons using the “Teach-in” function – hold the existing remote control up to the Zapper and hold the required button until the VooMote tells you to stop. And that’s it, it’s learnt and assigned to that button. There are various styles of buttons available and they can all be moved between screens and around them.
One View is an option available from your devices menu that allows you to combine multiple devices all onto one set of screens – for instance you may want to have a TV, PVR and amplifier all as one set as these are controlled together. Again, you can edit the buttons to get them just how you like them.
Finally, you have the One Touch option. When editing one of your devices this is an additional option that allows you to record macros and assign to a button. These macros can be swipes, key pressed, whatever you wish and can span multiple devices. For instance, you could record a macro that switches on all your home media equipment and then switches the TV to the correct channel.
All of this comes with a guided tour, available from the front screen, and assorted help dotted throughout the screens (simply hit the blue question mark button). No further information is available from their website but they provide email support, if required.
Unfortunately, I did require email support as I had 2 issues, both of which are worth mentioning.
- I found that after using the iPod for “normal use” and returning back to the Zapper App, the hardware was no longer detected and I had to remove it and re-insert it again before it would work again. zero1.tv have confirmed that this is a known issue – ” the Zapper is sometimes not detected when the iPhone or iPod goes into sleep-mode… w are working on it and try to reduce it with every update but the reason seems to be the very complex interaction between our App and the firmware within the Zapper.”
- I set my Humax PVR up as a device but some of the buttons were missing. Unfortunately, I was unable to programme them in – the VooMote device seemed to recognise me holding down the keys on the original remote and appeared to learn them but upon pressing the resultant key on the app nothing happened. I was able to programme keys for other devices, however. Unfortunately, this can happen and zero1.tv, in the supplied instructions, do ask that you supply them with make and model details so that they can look into it for future – I’m in the process of doing this.
[review]Other than a couple of minor issues (and the latter one may only have an impact on a few people) it worked superbly. The layout is easy to set and is highly configurable and the idea of dividing the devices into specific rooms is genius. The infra-red transmission itself worked as well as any other handset and devices are well supported too – I’ve heard good reports of Sky+ and Xbox 360 working without a hitch.
If you need a universal remote control and have an Apple device sat next to you already then this is a handy, value for money solution.[/review]
- It only works with infra-red equipment, so it can’t control your PS3 for instance