back to article Bluetooth comes to set-top boxes

Broadcom, manufacturer of set-top box chip sets and Qualcomm annoyer, has added Bluetooth to its set-top box reference platform; which should see the death of the infrared remote control within a couple of years. Broadcom sees non-line-of-sight remote control as just one capability Bluetooth adds. Connecting to inconveniently …


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  1. Rich Silver badge

    Oh geat!

    Yet another example of replacing something (ie - the traditional zapper) that...

    1/ is simple

    2/ is relible

    3/ is cheap

    4/ has very low battery usage

    5/ is NOT BROKEN!

    ...with something (ie - Blutooth) that...

    1/ has a silly name (nope - I've never got over that one!)

    2/ is relatively power-hungry

    3/ is almost certainly less reliable

    Don't you just love "progress"?

  2. nigel topham

    while they're at it

    they should install one of those key whistler things so you’ll never lose your remote again, what ever happened to them anyway, nostalgia eh!

  3. Ian Ferguson

    At last

    I keep wishing my Wiimote could control the television, as it doesn't require line of sight except for the accurate pointing part. Yes, bluetooth eats batteries, but having to get up to remove a cushion/cable/cat from in front of the DVD player is always an irritation. Now, if all manufacturers could agree on a standard format for remote signals, so we can use truly universal remotes, it would be a proper step forward.

    Rich: TVs old enough to be just pre-infrared had remotes connected by cable, that offered ALL the benefits that you list PLUS never needed batteries changing. Why don't you get one of those?

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Already available for Playstation 3

    But I still find myself pointing the remote at the console - that's going to take a lot of re-learning.

  5. Dunstan Vavasour

    Remote control java applet download

    The logical extension is that you have a "universal remote" which is actually a platform in which you run a java applet or equivalent which is the actual remote control code. So the STB downloads its remote controller into your appliance, be it a traditional remote, a PDA, a phone, or a next generation Wii remote.

  6. Ashley Stevens

    Great - do away with all those remotes

    This is a good development. The article fails to point out the one main benefit - Doing away with all the remotes in the lounge except the one you always carry: Your mobile phone.

    With the right app on your smartphone you'd be able to control all devices in the lounge. Although learning IR in the phone would help with legacy devices without Bluetooth - why don't phone OEMs add this? I suppose because there's no revenue for the operator so they're not allowed to?

  7. Leon


    Oh get with it Rich. Over the last 20 years I've seen such differences in the performance of infrared remote controls that you can't possibly claim it's NOT BROKEN. My latest experience with a IR remote is the one for my 32" Samsung LCD TV, which sucks!

    Compared with the BlueTooth remote for my PS3, it's virtually useless.

  8. DrXym Silver badge

    PS3 already uses Bluetooth for its remote

    The PS3 uses bluetooth for its controllers, remote, headsets, keyboards, mice etc.

    The PS3 bluetooth remote is a big chunky thing which looks pretty much like the old PS2 remote but in black.There is something undeniably, unquantifiably nice about being able to use the remote without having line of site with the box. But otherwise it works pretty much like any other remote.

    I have no idea what battery life is like but I assume the remote control profile of bluetooth is designed to simplify the power consumption and design of such devices. For example there is no synchronisation as far as I'm aware to make it work - just push a button. I expect a good deal of mischief could be done with one of these remotes if you walked up to one of the big PS3 displays in HMV or other stores and used it from inside your jacket.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Great - I can close the door on the TV cabinet

    RF remotes have the great advantage that you don't have to see all your beautiful AV kit in order to operate it.

    Also the PS3 remote batteries are still showing maximum strength and I bought the remote soon after the PS3 launch.

    There is also the possibility of 2-way communications so that display items can be moved from the front panel to the remote

  10. Morely Dotes

    @ Ian Ferguson

    "TVs old enough to be just pre-infrared had remotes connected by cable, that offered ALL the benefits that you list PLUS never needed batteries changing. Why don't you get one of those?"

    Actually, the immediate precursor of the IR remote was the (ultra)sonic system - I recall using one about the size of two cigarette packs stuck end-to-end, which had actual metallic rods inside that were struck by tiny hammers when you pressed a button. No batteries, no wires - but if you dropped it or set it down a bit too hard, results were unpredictable.

    And the channel selector on the TV had a stepper motor - you could go up or down one channel at a time, none of this "switch over to Channel 2" without going through everything in between if you didn't happen to be on 3 to 13 already.

  11. Mr Smin

    audio remote

    Anyone remember those remotes that used high pitched audio?

    With hindsight I guess they were on those frequencies now being used to disperse youths from shops, and which are inaudible to most adults.

    I would guess they are (were) good for non line of sight.

  12. Ryan


    My two-year-old A2DP headphones have it in!

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    "Why's the remote not working"?

    "oh the battery went flat"

    "Er where's the charger for the remote control"

    "Oh it's over there by the charger for the phone, oh the headset, er, the torch, the ipod, I dunno it's one of them.."

    "Hey, it's charged now, why's it not working?"

    "Oh you gotta bond it with the set top box again"

    "I've got to what?"

    Hmmm must seem like a great idea if you're selling bluetooth chipsets or a úber geek who wants to runa java applet on their watchphone to control the Sky box.

    Anyway, my MSoft IR receiver sits in a side wall and happily picks up signals as I point the remote at the wall 90 degrees away from it.. it's down to how wide angle the receiver lens is. As for standard protocols, have a look for RC5 and RC6 - standards been round for ages.

  14. Graham Lockley

    Oh f*cking great !

    Another to add to the list. Now you can add to your security fears the possibilty that some war-driving geek will hack your remote and change channels for you !

    Wonder how long after these things are on sale that the first exploits are publicised and 'service packs' are released ;)

  15. Dillon Pyron

    Change the channel

    So, every time I tap my headset to make a call, I'll change to channel 3? Or will it skip to the next disk? And when I turn up the volume, my Bluetooth printer will eject a page. Convergence at its very best.

  16. Robert Forsyth

    Have you seen the Linux MCE video?

  17. Michael Lomas


    SallingClicker already does this (sort of). Uses BlueTooth to let me control iTunes (amongst other things) from my mobile. I get the album art etc all on my phone. Nice.

  18. Stuart Van Onselen

    Recharging and Interference


    You touch on one of my pet peeves (and I'm sure a lot of other people's, as well) - the ridiculous proliferation of incompatible power supplies/chargers!

    We're finally seeing some convergence with things like USB and Bluetooth relieving us of the irritation of proprietary, expensive and non-interchangeable data cables, but we're still stuck with with much the same problem with chargers!

    There is a solution waiting in the wings, though. Several devices are now using USB to recharge, and hopefully the other greedy manufacturers will eventually stop trying to rip us off with their "closed" systems and go this route. Plus, it means one less cable when the device in question is plugged into a PC - Big plus in my book!

    (Yes, there are universal chargers available, but they're large and clumsy in comparison, and there's always the risk of the butter-fingered, like myself, frying their gadgets by selecting the wrong voltage or polarity.)


    I presume you're joking, because of course Bluetooth has at least some basic authentication/identification in it. Which even IR sometimes lacks! Once in a blue moon you will find a VCR remote control that will accidentally do strange things to your hi-fi. It is very rare, but it does happen, possibly due to frequency tolerances that are too wide.

    @Graham Lockley: I wish I could say that your fears are exaggerated, but alas, I agree - We techno-utopians keep getting our dreams dashed by the ugliness of Reality (and the vandals and criminals that inhabit it.)

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    will be a greater problem in the future. At home I use wide beam ir (ceiling mounted) for connecting my mobile devices with my main computer acting as a base station. It's much safer than radio because I can easily block access. The problem with radio is that from its view every house is made of glass. You can expect controller collisions in highrises or even a single faulty device blocking off access for everyone else within its reach (like within a few corners). And I didn't even mention hackers or viruses on bluetooth enabled computers. This will give people the nice feeling of their tv, pvr or computer being hacked through the remote controller by someone across the globe. Nice way to go, we really wanted to install firewalls and encrypted vpn tunnels for the tv remote to work...

  20. Scott Mckenzie


    My brand new Harmony 885 rendered useless overnight.... except for the fact that as it stands the only current device i know of that uses Bluetooth is the P(iece of) S(hit) 3

    I can see the idea catching on, but it'll take a while to take over the market as a lot of people still have older devices that use good old IR.

  21. Jason Togneri

    Remote control for mobile phones

    It's been available for a long time! At least on my S60 Nokia, there's a program (Psiloc TotalIR, I thinK) - with it, I can control my stereo, VCR and TV, as well as random TVs in pubs, and other manner of infra red remotely-controlled devices. Sadly it's with infra red, which my new phone doesn't have, but I'm sure that as soon as there are bluetooth-compatible TVs, stereos and STBs, a version will be out...

    Michael Lomas: controlling your computer from mobile phone is also very old - there are quite a few bluetooth apps to control WinAmp, WMP, etc, and there's also (for example) RemoteS60/MRouter which allows you to control your phone from the computer.

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