I have been reading through the various posts here on the question of how to get a PlayStation 3 to work as a Blu-Ray player with a universal remote. There is lots of information, but I wanted to try to summarize what I picked up, and to ask a few specific questions I have not yet found the answers to.
The setup–I just ordered a PlayStation 3 from Sony for $250 ($400 less $150 for signing up for their free VISA card) plus tax (shipping included). I have not really been a game player since I used to sell the original Ataris (yes, I am really that old), so I got it as a blu-ray disk player to go with my brand-new 52" LCD TV. I also got a Harmony 550 remote (for $50), which is way-cool. I am now faced with the problem of how to control the PS3 with the Harmony. There appear to be two general categories of solutions:
1. Use an infrared-to-bluetooth converter.
2. Use an infrared-to-USB "dongle."
1. Infrared-to-Bluetooth converters.
I can find four of these on the market. The IR2BT, the PS3ToothFairy, the IR4PS3, and the Schmartstuff PS3IR-Pro. Assuming I understand these things, the IR4PS3 and the PS3ToothFairy both require the cannibalization of a Sony bluetooth remote, while the IR2BT and the PS3IR-Pro use their own proprietary circuitry. Presumably, the two proprietary units are vulnerable to problems caused by PS3 firmware updates, while the two Frankenstein units should be upgrade-proof. This was demonstrated by the IR2BT which is in the process of providing a free upgrade to buyers of its earlier units that were adversely affected by a Sony firmware modification. The PS3IR-Pro can have its firmware updated through a USB port, which should resolve avoid such problems were they to arise.
The downside to these solutions? They are costly. As best I can tell, the IR2BT (which is currently out of stock and doesn’t list the price) is the least expensive at $55 (I think). The PS3TF runs $64 plus the cost of the Sony remote (currently $17.17 from Sam’s Club, including shipping) (they also offer a completely assembled version–currently out of stock–for $89). The IR4PS3 is sold by a Canadian guy named “Ben” for $40 plus the cost of the Sony remote, or, he will add in the Sony remote module for an additional $28.20 or so (he is out of stock on the Sony remotes so this price may vary). Rounding out the group, the PS3IR-Pro is $100. All of these come with power supply connections, but the power supplies are extra, as too is shipping. The advantage of these units, and the reason why people are willing to spend so much for these things, is that they all give you the same degree of control as Sony’s own remote control.
2. Infrared-to-USB Dongles
Most of these units come with their own remote controls. The exception–and the most expensive of the lot–is the Schmartstuff PS3IRX1, running at $35 plus shipping. The rest are cheap Chinese models that come with their own remotes, and seem to run in price from under $10 up to about $25. Initially, the major rap against these units was that they couldn’t turn the PS3 on or off. I believe the latter issue was resolved in one of the PS3 firmware updates so that they can now turn off the PS3.
So, here’s where I am. I have now invested one arm and one leg in the TV, plus another $250 for the PS3 and $50 for the remote. I am not thrilled by the prospect of shelling out another $60 to $105 for an IR-BT converter–it just seems like an extravagance. This leads to my questions.
First, has anyone noticed any functional distinctions among the four IR-BT converters? They all seem to get good marks. I might have chided the IR2BT for its problem with the Sony firmware update, except that they really stepped up by fixing at no charge all of the units they had previously sold. Moreover, each of these four entrepreneur/vendors (including the Canadian guy) get very high marks for their customer service and responsiveness. Is there any real basis to choose among them?
Second, what features am I giving up if I go with a dongle? If the only thing I lose is the ability to turn the PS3 on, I could probably use the exercise.
Third, is there any real difference between the dongles? The PS3IRX1 claims (well, actually its vendor makes this claim, the dongle itself probably doesn’t talk) that it works better than the cheap Chinese models. Has anyone tested this?
Moreover, I have seen nothing that compares these dongles or their remotes. Do these different dongles have different functionalities, or is that an issue with the remotes rather than the dongles? If the latter, can I program functions for the dongle that are not actually on the remote, or might someone at Logitech already have done that in the Harmony software? I note that two of the cheap Chinese products have brand names, sort of: Intec and Nyko, and that they are included in the Harmony database. Is there any functional difference between them? I also note that there appears to be a raft of unnamed, even cheaper remotes. How do these compare? How can they be programmed into the Harmony? Can I just lie to my Harmony and tell it I am using the Nyko, Intec or even the Schmartsuff? More fundamentally, do they use common translation codes, or is each unique requiring unique programming of the remote?
While I apologize for raising issues that may have been addressed in other threads, I did not find them. Besides, laying all of this out helps me to clarify my thoughts (albeit at your expense). In any case, I have noticed that a number of posters here clearly have substantial technical expertise, as well as being kind and generous souls. Any insights you can give me would be greatly appreciated.