updated 02:05 am EDT, Fri July 15, 2011
Slim case teams with free app for remote control
A company called Mashed Pixel is now shipping a case for the iPhone 4 called the SURC that features a built-in infrared unit that can be paired with a free app from the company that turns the iPhone 4 in an easy-to-use universal learning remote control that not only controls most infrared-enabled appliances and devices, but learns how to control the devices from the user's existing remotes, saving valuable "training" time.
The case, despite being quite form-fitting, features a tiny battery built in it and a micro-USB connection for recharging that also lets users charge and sync the iPhone without removing the case. The SURC app is customizable, allowing users to program gestures or use the iPhone's motion-sensing capabilities to be assigned to specific buttons (such as waving the iPhone upwards to indicate raising the volume).
The app features an extensive database of pre-programmed devices, meaning very little time is needed to adapt the SURC case and app to a user's equipment. Because the control is handled by an app, the screen can be changed to reflect each different type or make of device being used, or even "gang" actions together (such as switching from cable TV to turning on the DVD, audio receiver and changing the input of the HDTV for movie watching).
The case it also also provides the usual protection to the iPhone 4 itself (the company says it is working on cases for the iPhone 3G and 3GS, along with the iPod Touch and iPad). Unlike some other infrared remote cases, the SURC places the infrared lights at the top of the iPhone case, meaning users do not have to hold it "upside down" to work. The latest version of the app, v1.2, adds a TV guide to the program (U.S. only).
The case comes in a choice of four colors, and retails for $75.