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The iMON’s IR receiver eye appears to be quite sensitive. In fact, really sensitive! As the iMON is not a learning remote (the drivers can learn but the remote itself can only send one set of signals), I couldn’t make true use of our standard Menacing Thick Fluffy Blanket (MTFB) test, which requires a known code and a benchmark component for score consistency. However, with informal testing the iMON’s single infrared emitter scored 5.75, with the eye detecting infrared (even if it couldn’t be decoded) all the way to level 8.5! In comparison, with the same test the Sony RM-VL900 was functional to level 5.0, while the Philips ProntoPro TSU6000 scored a total of 5.5. The best performer of the pack was the Home Theater Master MX-500, which remained reliable up to an astonishing 9.0, with infrared detected all the way to level 12.0. Wowsers!
This incredible sensitivity does have a small caveat: it was found that some office fluorescent lighting (which has not been the cause of any trouble during testing in the past; a particular desktop lamp usually has that distinction) caused the receiver to constantly detect an infrared signal and attempt to pass it through to the computer. While this was occurring it prevented the stronger IR signals from the iMON remote from being regularly detected or processed. This likely means that the receiver is not “plasma proof”, and I would suggest caution when considering the iMON for an office environment.
For those looking for an even more home-theater oriented remote control option, at the time of this writing SoundGraph is in the process of developing an optional front-end interface package for the iMON called Multi-Median. Its purpose is to simplify the playback of DVD movies, home videos, still pictures and other media files, along with television and FM radio tuners.
The Multi-Media program would integrate with a computer’s hardware devices and provide a consistent interface throughout dissimilar media types, similar to Microsoft Windows XP Media Center Edition. Pricing was not available.
The final outlook...
SoundGraph’s iMON Plus stands out sharply from other PC remote controls by offering more keys, better control, superior integration and far greater customization. While the chosen array of buttons may not have been entirely ideal, the software’s impressive ability to allow users to easily tailor their functions in individual programs more than compensates. Many of the iMON’s truly useful features, like interface integration and assigning functions to learned codes, are new to this market.
If SoundGraph can fix the joystick issue with non-standard profiles and remove several other limitations including how macros are assigned to buttons, the iMON just might be able to set the benchmark from which all other add-on home theater PC remotes are judged.
- Daniel Tonks (Remote Central)