Controlling Audio Video Room to Room

One of the issues people have is controlling their audio and video devices from a single remote in one room into another room. Unlike 802.11 and Bluetooth, which can penetrate walls, the remotes based on IR technology and CIR in particular have a range no better than about 50 feet, and most top off at around 25 feet.

If you want to control your systems from a single remote and that remote isn’t connected to a computer that can send signals to remote controllers, then you need to use a system that amplifies your infrared signal.

Several are available that you can choose from. Terk has a line of infrared extenders that range from a simple $38 solution such as the LF-UNIV that adds a physical signal booster to any remote and transmits that signal to a base station up to 150 feet away, to the model LF-IRX that has two range extenders with a100-foot radius.

Other models in the line include the LF-DISH extender for a Dish Network remote control extender, the LF-RCA RCA Satellite remote control extender, and others. Another infrared extender system is the Niles Remote Control Anywhere Kit. This system lets you put up to six infrared wall-mounted sensors around your house that respond to your remote control.

Signals are transmitted to a connection hub and then sent to a set of sensors that transmits the signal to your A/V equipment. Many systems of this type are on the market. We've discussed using 802.11 technology to stream audio and video around a house, as well as connect to devices such as surveillance cameras wirelessly.

The advantage of 802.11 technology is that you can control it from a computer, and that it has a relatively long distance range compared to IR remote controls.

We wanted to remind you of that discussion before we proceed to look at some of the systems that are available to send audio and video signals from a main TV to a remote TV in another room directly.

The best known products for direct wireless transmission of video and audio signals come from Terk: the Leapfrog WaveMaster 20 and the multi-room distribution system. The Leapfrog WaveMaster 20 comes with a transmitter and receiver, and up to three more receivers can be added.

The stated range is about 100 feet. So with this system you can “beam” signals from TVs, VCRs, DVDs, CDs, cable boxes, satellite dishes, and of course your audio receiver.

A newer model called the Leapfrog LF-30S is almost identical, but offers four different channels and claims a 150-foot range. Terk’s Leapfrog HomeNetwork system is a higher-end (and newer) wireless transmission system.

It does the same thing that the WaveMaster does, but does it over phone lines. Both of these systems can be connected to a computer by a converter card. These two systems from Terk are really networking for the masses.

The WaveMaster 20 is a 2.4 GHz 802.11g device with a directional antenna. The second system called the HomeNetwork is a phone network system. The “connector cards” to computers in both instances is an NIC.

Terk’s products are easy to use and set up, and they have all of the same characteristics as your computer wireless or phone networks without any configuration—and that’s the rub. If you are running other 2.4 GHz devices (such as your computer network and even some phones) or a phone network, you will experience interference.

But if not, you can get good results with these devices as long as you don’t expect to get an HDTV signal on the receiving end. A nice feature of some of the models like the LS-30S is that you can use a remote to control a TV from the remote station.

Other products in this market include the RCA Lyra Wireless Transmitter, which at $99 sells for the same amount as the LS-30, and the Recoton JV2400 2.4 GHz Video Signal Sender. Of the bunch, the RCA Lyra seems to have the best reviews, but that system is meant for Internet radio and music only and so has an easier road to hoe.

With a frequency of 900 MHz, this transmitter is probably using 802.11b technology. If you have a need to beam multimedia content around a house and don’t want to mess with computers, then these products will work for you.