IR Extender

Over the last decade, home audio and video equipment has been reduced from a bulky form factor to a selection of sleek, stylish devices. Blu-ray players and home theater systems have become tiny, often quite aesthetically pleasing objects, while cable television boxes and other digital units have changed from being bulky, unsightly objects into stylish electronic home accessories.

But for many home theater, home audio, and electronics gurus, that’s not enough. There’s a point where style becomes what matters, rather than cluttered, easily accessible entertainment racks. In this fashion, units such as IR extenders – which allow home users to ‘bounce’ or increase the scale of their remote control unit’s range – have become significantly more popular and widely used.

An IR extender works using a fairly simple system. A signal, generally from a remote control or another digital controller – is captured by the extender itself, and subsequently spread to another electronic device in the area. In the same way that a mirror can deflect a laser, changing its angle and pushing it towards a different location, an IR extender can change the direction of IR signals.

It’s a system that should sound familiar to home technology gurus, particularly as it’s been used in a variety of wireless internet devices over the last decade. Faced with larger homes and signal issues, many home internet users have extended their routers range with a wi-fi extender. IR extenders use the same principle – and often the same technology – to improve the range of electronic devices.

As with other signal extenders, IR extenders are generally small and fairly slim. They’re typically placed on top of a home entertainment unit or alongside a television screen, in which case they’re able to transfer a signal to equipment that could be hidden below. This is carried out by capturing the original signal, and using a ‘flasher’ to transmit it to the home electrical equipment in question.

For example, a DVD player may have its IR receiver located on the front side of the unit. This is a fairly simple device to configure for an IR extender. When the user presses a button on the player’s remote, in turn sending a signal to its IR receiver, the IR extender will intercept the signal and send it onwards towards the DVD player, preserving the signal and pushing it beyond its standard range.

This is done using two components. The first is the ‘IR flasher’ which alerts the user to the extender with a simple flashing red light. The flasher then transfers the signal to the DVD player in the form of its own IR unit, which sends the signal directly to the player’s IR receiver. Some devices have an input for remote IR devices, although this feature is generally only found on new electrical devices.

IR extenders are available for almost all electrical appliances that use infrared signals, and due to their ubiquitous design and standardized signal can be used with a variety of devices. This means that there’s no real need to ‘brand match’ your IR extender with the equipment it will be used for – all IR extenders use a generic signal relay, which will work with almost all infrared devices.

Are you a home electronics buff that would love to minimize the physical ‘footprint’ of your devices and pricey gadgets? Consider these two reasons to purchase an IR extender, and think about how it could improve the styling, cleanliness, and simplicity of your home’s living room, computing office, or workplace electronics area.

An IR extender can improve your signal strength, minimizing remote mishaps. Is your remote just not working as expected? Drops in signal strength are fairly common throughout a remote controller’s lifetime, and can be attributed to anything from aging batteries to an infrared port that’s just not in great health. A simple way to improve your signal strength is by installing an IR extender to reduce its travel distance, consolidate its targets, and simplify operations.

With an IR extender installed in a central, close by location, you can significantly cut down your remote’s travel distances. This allows you to increase your IR signal strength without investing in new remote controllers and other expensive equipment.

Using an IR extender allows you to ‘hide’ your electrical equipment. Some people like the look of a glossy DVD player, a large home audio amplifier, and other devices built to sit underneath a television. Others can’t stand it, claiming that their presence makes their TV and audio area look cluttered, unsightly, and far too busy.

It’s purely a matter of taste, although it can be resolved fairly quickly with an IR extender. Install an extender atop your television cabinet, and relocate all of your devices to the underside of the cabinet or behind a closed door. The extender can then relay the signal, reducing clutter and visible devices.

This IR Extender Review is Written/Updated on Mar 19th, 2011 and filed under Consumer Electronics. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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