[by Paul Ludington] A few companies have tried to improve the iPod experience with wireless remote controls and Digital Lifestyle Outfitters (DLO) recently joined the fray with the iDirect infrared remote. The iDirect consists of two separate parts: an infrared receiver unit that plugs into the top of the iPod and a small, five-button remote. Like many other iPod accessory manufacturers, DLO successfully employs the basic look of the iPod with a white and gray design and rounded edges.
The receiving unit fits well on the top of the iPod with a short height and a width slightly smaller than the iPod itself. Since the iDirect receiver covers the top of the iPod almost completely, the hold button is unusable (although you shouldn’t need a hold button if you are planning on using a remote control) while the receiver is attached. DLO has included a headphone jack in the top of the iDirect to replace the one that is covered.
Find out more about the DLO iDirect Remote Control
The functionality of the iDirect remote is basic, duplicating the buttons of the Apple wired remote. Included functions are power on/off, play, pause, volume up, volume down, next song, and previous song. This limited functionality is perhaps the biggest drawback of the iDirect (and other iPod remotes as well) since there is no function to switch between albums or playlists. The usefulness of the iDirect remote is further reduced when integrating your iPod into a home audio system through the dock line out since the volume controls on the remote don’t work with line out.
One of the more useful features of infrared receiving devices like the iDirect is the ability to replace the included remote control with a universal learning remote. Universal learning remotes are programmable devices that can be “taught” the infrared signals of the original remote, thus allowing you to replace several remotes with the learning remote. I tested the iDirect with an inexpensive Philips six-device learning remote and was easily able to program it to control my iPod through the iDirect receiver. It is certainly less of a headache to be able to control my iPod with the same remote I use for my TV, DVD player and digital cable box.
In my home audio setup, the range of the iDirect was good. With the included remote, I was able to fully control my iPod from 30 feet away, certainly adequate for most people to operate their audio devices. With the universal learning remote, the range improved to at least 40 feet (I would’ve had to walk outside to see just how far I could go).
At $49.99 retail the iDirect is priced similarly to other wireless iPod remote control options. If your listening habits are like mine and don’t fit in with the simple functionality of iPod remotes (riding in the car and switching between albums and playlists regularly), you may not want to purchase one. For those looking for a wireless iPod remote control solution, however, the iDirect seems to be a solid choice.