Bluetooth 4.0 has been around for a few years now. Chances are if you've bought a new phone in the past couple of years it has been supported (everything from the iPhone 4S has it, for instance). The difference with Bluetooth's earlier incarnations is that 4.0 is specifically geared to support low power consumption. This is exciting as it means that there's all sorts of new devices that could take advantage of this - here's some of the most intriguing!
Name: Sonos SUB
Type: Wireless subwoofer for Sonos music systems
Specifications: Click here for full specs
Price as reviewed: £599
Sonos have expanded their wireless audio range to include the striking new SUB subwoofer. It looks and sounds the business, but is the sonic boost worth the high asking price? Read on to find out.
The Sonos SUB is a monolithic subwoofer. Measuring 402 x 158 x 380mm, it's of average size for a sub, but weighs a stonking 16kg. With a glossy black finish, it has a donut-like gap in the centre of its boxy shape, making it quite unlike any subwoofer you've ever seen before.
That hole doesn't just make it easier to carry the weighty SUB around, but is also a design decision intended to improve the overall audio quality. Inside the gap are two force-cancelling speakers, facing each other. As a result, none of the power of low, rumbling frequencies is lost to rattling or shaking within the cabinet itself. It also means that the SUB can be placed anywhere in a room (providing it is within a few feet of a power outlet), and deliver the same audio quality whether standing vertically of laid horizontally. This flexibility means that you could easily slip the SUB under a bed or raised sofa and still get a great audio response from it, though its stunning looks mean you'd probably want to leave it on show for all to see.
Set-up couldn't be simpler. Joining an existing Sonos wireless speaker set (Sonos recommend a pair of Play:3 wireless speakers, but Play:5 speakers will work just as well, though the SUB doesn't work with non-amplified Sonos components), it's just a matter of plugging the subwoofer into a power outlet, firing up the Sonos controller application on a desktop computer, iPad, iPod touch, iPhone or Android device, hitting the lone wireless sync button on the SUB and completing a short calibration process. If you were looking to use the SUB in a Sonos set up with speakers spread across multiple rooms, you'd also need to pick which speakers you'd like the SUB to pair itself with.
As you can see, Sonos assume you already have other compatible Sonos gear with which to pair the SUB, which you'd better have if you're considering the subwoofer as it won't work with any other audio gear. Aside from a power connection and the usage of an optional Ethernet port on the unit's underside there are no other terminals. Considering the £599 price tag, it stunts the potential lifespan of the SUB, should you be thinking about an overhaul of your audio gear sans Sonos in the coming years.
We paired the SUB with two Play:3 speakers, both in a stereo pairing and with a single Play:3 speaker too. In both cases, there was an easily noted improvement in the audio quality compared to using the Play:3 speakers by themselves. The SUB lets the Play:3 speakers ease off the lower frequencies a little letting the highs and mids shine through, without losing any of the kick and power of deep lows. Syncing perfectly with the smaller units, it can be disarming to see them seemingly pump out bass way beyond your expectations if the sub is tucked away.
No matter what style of music we threw at the SUB, it helped the Sonos system perform marvellously. The bass arpeggio of Bjork's Army of Me rang clear and low, helping to highlight intricate details elsewhere in the song, whereas Daft Punk's Derezzed from the Tron 2.0 soundtrack sounding properly mental, shaking our office to its core when the bass and volume levels were pushed to their max, with no obvious signs of bass distortion. The funky bass line of Rick James' Super Freak bounced with warmth and energy, while even tracks with less obnoxious bass like Bowie's Absolute Beginners sounded smooth and detailed. Classical music benefited less as did acoustic tracks, with Debussy' Claire de Lune seeing a marginally more spacious sound achieved. Something a little more dramatic like Beethoven's 5th Symphony benefited from the extra bombast offered by the SUB though. Impressing pretty much across the board, it made us wonder what Sonos could do with a wireless home cinema set up if they put their minds to it.
Things can get ridiculously loud too, and with bass levels dropping as low 25Hz, you'll be able to rock an outdoor party as easily as one in a small flat with just a single Play:3 and the SUB.
If there's one possible issue we had with the SUB, it's found when pairing with a single Play:3. Unless you've carefully balanced the bass levels in the EQ area of the Sonos software, it is easy to overwhelm a lone Play:3. Best results certainly come from the increased output offered by a stereo pairing.
Adding to the premium experience is the Sonos software. As it's been widely available for a few years and is well documented, we won't dwell on it too long, but it's a really wonderful system. Whether you're using a computer or mobile device, a clean, simple interface full of colourful artwork pulls in music from hundreds of sources, be they online radio stations, streaming services like Spotify or your own locally stored MP3s or iTunes library. Both the apps and desktop controller let you control individual streams to each speaker, meaning you could in theory have a different song playing in every room in your house that has a Sonos speaker, controlling playback, EQ and volume controls from one central position. It's incredibly intuitive and a joy to use.Verdict:
There's no denying that the Sonos SUB is a great bit of kit. It looks amazing, is a piece of cake to set up and gives a marked improvement to the audio quality of an existing Sonos system. However, £599 is also undeniably expensive for a subwoofer that can only ever be paired with other Sonos gear. Add to that the fact that to get the most out of the SUB you're going to need two complimentary Play:3 speakers and the overall price shoots up to £1,117 for the complete set up. It's a premium price for a premium package however, and if you've got the disposable income or already have compatible Sonos gear, it's a worthy, luxurious upgrade.
HTC have just knocked another feature off the list of things that Apple's iPhone range has over the Taiwanese manufacturer's Android line: wireless streaming. HTC have lifted the lid on HTC Connect, a new certification program that will let audio and video hardware manufacturers display the fact that their gear works wirelessly with HTC products.
"The vision for HTC Connect is to allow our customers to easily stream their favorite high-quality video and audio from their smartphone into their home or car," said Kouji Kodera, chief product officer, HTC Corporation.
"We're also excited to announce Pioneer Electronics, a leader in the audio and video industry, as our first partner to demonstrate the initial HTC Connect certified audio experience for consumers."
The first handsets to get the HTC Connect update will be HTC One series, including the HTC One X, One S and One V, with a software update landing a little later.
Though at present only using DLNA technologies, HTC Connect will soon also cover NFC and Bluetooth connectivity too.
As stated by Kodera, Pioneer will be the first company to offer HTC Connect-certified products, with a range of DLNA enabled audio/video receivers and wireless speakers.
No word yet on what this means for the HTC Media Link HD service. Odds on it gets folded into HTC Connect eventually.
Bose may be best known for going bigger and better when it comes to their audio products, but they're going for a slightly different tact with their new SoundLink Wireless Mobile Speaker. A portable, durable unit, it's designed to bring high quality sound into an "on-the-go" form factor. We went hands-on at a preview event last night. Read on for our initial thoughts.
The SoundLink looks a treat. Available in two builds (one with a range of leather finishes and chrome edging, and a cheaper version with a nylon cover in a range of colours with matte edging), it's a neat speaker that has a slight retro feel to it. It's a little bit bigger than your average portable sound box, and a little bit on the heavy side too, but with quoted playback times of 8 hours from a single charge at average volume levels, it seems most of the weight may be down to a sizeable rechargeable battery on the inside.
It's also incredibly durable according to the Bose reps we spoke to. Though we didn't put it through the same rigorous tests Bose claim to have, the SoundLink can apparently survive hundreds upon hundreds of drops, and can take a soaking if left out in the rain for a short while. In a smart move, the front coloured covering also contains a sheet of aluminium to help protect the speaker grille when it magnetically snaps shut. The cover also folds back to act as a stand for the SoundLink, and even automatically swtiches the speaker off when it is closed.
A Bluetooth speaker, pairing your smartphone or Bluetooth-enabled device with the speaker is a piece of cake. It's simply a matter of hitting the Bluetooth button on the speaker and scanning for local Bluetooth devices on your mobile, and will work just as well with an Android, BlackBerry or Nokia phone as it would an iPhone. Surprisingy, there's no AirPlay support, though the Bluetooth pairing itself is more-or-less just as simple. There's no docking station here, and thus no charging of your music player, but even older, non-Bluetooth devices can be hooked up through a 3.5mm aux port on the back.
Most important of course however is the sound quality. For the most part this seemed very good indeed. Despite its size, the SoundLink can be cranked up to high volume levels using digital signal processing to avoid distortion. The trade off here is that compression becomes evident at higher volumes, capping the dynamic range of tracks somewhat. However, it was good to hear the super lows of Daft Punk's "Da Funk" blare out without clipping, and likewise the sharp highs of Del Shannon's "Runaway" surviving without too much scratching.
High performance then, but also at a high price; £259 for the nylon-covered model, and £299 for the premium LX version.
We'll have a full review shortly, so keep your peepers peeled.
Logitech are having a bit of a wireless frenzy at the moment. Just yesterday they brought their Wireless TouchPad to PC owner's attentions, and now they're also launching the Wireless BoomBox speaker system and Wireless Headset too.
The Wireless BoomBox is a portable player with its sights set on your smartphone or tablet. It's got Bluetooth connectivity for streaming your tunes from a distance of up to 10 metres, 8 custom designed sound drivers and a built-in battery good for 6 hours per charge.
Moving onto the Wireless Headset and again Logitech appear to be aiming for your mobile devices thanks to its Bluetooth connectivity, though any computer or games console that can use Bluetooth headsets will probably play nicely with it too. Laser tuned drivers, a noise cancelling microphone and another 6 hour battery round off the headset's feature list.
Both set for an October street date, the headset will cost you £54.99 and the BoomBox £129.
Following on from our quick-specs rundown of Epson's wireless 3D EH-TW9000W projector (which you can read here) we've now got a preview video of the model to go with it.
It's quite the looker we think, with it's curved white chassis bringing 2001: A Space Odyssey design chic to the projector space. In terms of industrial design it's intelligent too, thanks to front-facing venitlation systems that make mounting the projector in a shelving unit far less likely to cause overheating.
We've now got official confirmation of pricing for the Epson EH-TW9000W model too, makred up at £2962 when they hit UK stores in November.
Here's an interesting wirelss audio on a budget solution that has just been anounced by Audio Pro. It has unveiled the WF100 WiFi dongles, which it claims will take music from your PC to any audio system anywhere in your home. The audio signal is apparently high quality (lossless) and it works with CDs as well a digital audio software like Spotify and iTunes. Unlike some rival system the WF100 is completely device agnostic.
Basically you plug the transmitter into your laptop or PC and then the receiver and its accompanying power adaptor into the line output of any audio system. The company claims as it uses easy P-N-P solution it sets up in seconds. It also says it has a range of 50 metres too.
It will go on sale this month for around £150. More info here
Sony have launched two new sets of headphones today in the shape of the MDR-RF865RK wireless over-ears and noise-cancelling MDR-NC13 in-ears.
Wireless up to a range of 100 metres, the MDR-RF865RK headphones work over a 3-channel FM stereo signal. 3.5 hours of charging will give you 25 hours of playtime, while the headphones switch themselves off when docked with the charging cradle.
The MDR-NC13 in-ears claim to cut out 85% of ambient noise, using active noise-cancellation. A single AAA battery will offer 100 hours worth of noise-pollution-free playback.
Both headsets are due out next month, with pricing yet to be announced.
Name: Veebeam HD
Type: Wireless PC/Mac-to-TV high definition media streamer
Specs: Click here for full specs
Price: £139 from Amazon
Image Gallery: Click here
More and more we're using our PCs and Macs to watch TV and movies. Whether we're downloading HD films from iTunes or streaming last night's episode of EastEnders over the BBC iPlayer, we're relying increasingly on our computers and web connections to entertain ourselves. Being restricted to a titchy laptop screen or office-tied desktop PC however isn't always the most comfortable of viewing experiences, while hooking a computer up to a big-screen TV with an array of cables isn't always the tidiest way to get around the problem either. The Veebeam HD wireless media streamer is a relatively inexpensive solution that'll push your computer's media content to a big screen without cluttering up your living room with a tangle of leads in the process.
The Veebeam HD kit is comprised of two main components; the Veebeam HD box itself and a wireless USB dongle that is used to sync the Veebeam HD with your laptop. Both black and rather discrete in size, the Veebeam HD itself features a strange two-pronged design that makes it look a little like a Highwayman's cap. In a neat touch, the dongle can be stored in a small hole on the front of the Veebeam HD which automatically switches on the box when the dongle is removed from the dock, and turns it off when returned. It's a design that puts the Veebeam HD in stark contrast to the unit's nearest rival, the white Apple TV box.
After downloading the Veebeam HD software to your PC or Mac and connecting the Veebeam HD box up to your TV with a HDMI cable (composite, digital audio and two USB connections also sit on the rear), you're then ready to "beam" any content you're currently viewing on your desktop or stored media to your TV. Quality as high as 1080p is supported if you have such files or streams available once you've matched the Veebeam HD software settings with that of your outputting screen.
The default streaming mode for the Veebeam HD is Desktop Mode, which completely takes over your laptop. It isn't suitable for playing stored media files, nor multitasking, but is a quick and easy way of projecting your desktop or browser-based video content onto the big screen. Alternatively you can use the Play-To mode to stream locally-stored media files to the Veebeam HD box, whilst still allowing you to multi-task on the computer. In either format, the Veebeam HD projected high-quality images to the big screen that, while softer than a dedicated direct HDMI connection, didn't soften 1080p videos in any horribly jarring way. How easy it is to set-up and use the Veebeam HD will make it very popular among those who find the likes of DLNA networking a little overwhelming, while the lack of content restrictions make it a very attractive Apple TV alternative.
However, there were some problems with the Veebeam HD kit. Firstly, the wireless signal between the main unit and the dongle is quite weak, requiring a near-constant line-of-sight connection to maintain a consistent stream. While a busy room of people walking through the line only rarely affected the connection, those planning on streaming from a computer in another room will have to look for another solution.
Also, we noticed some issues with the screencasting Desktop Mode that will prevent those planning to use the kit for wireless gaming streams or presentations from getting much joy from the Veebeam HD. A noticeable lag between the action on the computer screen and what happens when sent to the Veebeam HD means it's not suitable for even offline gaming, while the mysterious lack of an on-screen cursor makes controlling your desktop from the secondary display a bit of a pain.
While very attractive both in function and form, the Veebeam HD isn't without a few quibbles that, while minor to the majority of its intended users, could well be deal-breakers to gamers and professional users. Still, if you're in the market for a reasonably priced HD media streamer that has few of the content restrictions that the likes of Apple TV imposes, the Veebeam HD is an easy-to-use, elegant solution.
Name: myGrid (Duracell)
Type: Wireless charging station
Specs: (Click here for full specs)
Price: £62.55 for the starter kit from Amazon, Power Sleeves and Clips from £29.99
According to the Institute of Engineering and Technology, each average UK household now has around 25 individual electronic devices, many of which are rechargeable via power adapters. That inevitably leads to a tangled mess of wiring and a lack of power sockets, as your phones and gadgets burn through juice faster than a fat kid gobbles through a tub of ice cream. Following in the footsteps of the Powermat, Duracell offer a new charging solution in the shape of their myGrid kit.
A magnetic silver slab, the myGrid sits on your desktop and can charge up to four devices at once without the need for each gadget's individual, wired charger. Instead, you attach your device to one of Duracell's Power Sleeves or Power Clips, place it on the myGrid mat, and charge each item simultaneously using conductive charging technology. Of course, it's not completely wireless as the myGrid mat itself requires power from a wall socket, but it does save having to plug multiple devices into numerous power outlets.
With a maximum power output of 15VDC/1A, it's a very efficient device, charging all four gadgets in more or less the same amount of time as by using their bespoke power adapters, all the while saving around 15% on energy consumption. The myGrid also switches off once each device is fully charged, saving on unnecessary power use or overcharging your batteries. If you're concerned about having an exposed current on the magnetic slab you need not worry either; Duracell have implemented touch sensitive safety procedures that power off the device when it comes into contact with your fingers or inappropriate metallic objects.
Once you have the right attachment for each device it's all very simple, with the magnetised sleeves meaning that placing the gadgets at any angle on the mat will charge them without a hitch.
However, getting the appropriate sold-seperately sleeve for each gadget you want to charge wont come cheap, especially if you're looking to refill the maximum of four devices at once. There are Power Sleeves compatible with BlackBerry Curve 8350i and Pearl 8100 handsets, as well as Apple iPod Touch, iPhone 3G and iPhone 3GS devices, with sleeves for more handsets in the pipeline. Duracell Power Clips on the other hand will fit any device with Micro or Mini USB connections, as well as Nokia handsets. When you consider that each sleeve and clip costs around £30, with the myGrid mat starter kit itself retailing at roughly £70, you're looking at nearly £200 to get the most out of the gear.
Though it's expensive, there are few complaints to be levelled at the charging mat itself.The myGrid wireless charger works like a charm, is designed simply enough for even a complete technophobe to get to grips with, and looks fairly stylish to boot. Pricing will stand in the way for most people, and you're going to have to think long and hard over whether or not it's worth roughly £100 of your money for the starter kit and just the one appropriate sleeve, considering you're almost certainly already going to have a wired charger for each of your devices.
The Air Keyboard, a tiny wireless keyboard ideal for the living room, is now for sale from Firebox.
The Air Keyboard connects to your device of choice via a wireless USB dongle. Fully compatible with PCs, media centres and even your PS3 games console, it allows for tidy email and web browsing without the need for any unsightly wires.
Roughly the same size as a PSP handheld, the HTPC keyboard also features a motion sensitive mouse and accelerometer which uses motion to replicate desktop mouse control. With a transmission range of 100ft, it'll also be handy for those who regular have to make Powerpoint presentations.
Compatible with both Mac and Windows,you can pick up the Air Keyboard here, priced £69.99.
The Eye-Fi X2 range of wireless memory cards, first seen at this year's CES, will now be available to purchase in the UK from April. Each memory card can remotely upload your files over a wireless connection and remove uploaded files once safely stored, meaning that you should never run out of space for a few more snaps.
Three different models make up the X2 range. The Eye-Fi Connect X2 is the cheapest of the bunch at £50. For that, you're getting a 4GB SDHC with a 802.11n Wi-Fi connection built-in to automatically upload snaps and videos to Flickr, Facebook, Youtube, Picasa or one of 25 other options.
Next up is the Eye-Fi Explore X2 card, which has all the same Wi-Fi and upload features as the Connect. It also adds GPS geotagging to keep a track of where each photo was taken and doubles the storage space to 8GB for £100.
The Eye-Fi Pro X2 completes the range. It has all the same Wi-Fi, uploading and GPS tricks seen in the Connect and Explore models, but can also handle RAW files and create ad-hoc PC connections if you're too far from a wireless router. The Pro X2 card costs £120.
Toshiba have just announced a brand spanking new LED backlit TV. Available in 40, 46 and 55 inch models, the UX600 sets itself apart from the crowd thanks to its built in Wi-Fi adaptor.
As this is a so-called "connected TV", a whole host of internet streams and feeds can be delivered straight to the set. There are widgets for YouTube, music streaming service Pandora and also image hosting sites such as Flickr.
There is also a customisable news Ticker within the TV's UI, which can be set to display a multitude of news feeds, weather updates, stock movements and Twitter updates.
The 1080p set will also feature movie streaming courtesy of VUDU. The on-demand film service has a catalogue of 1080p HD films that can sent straight to the UX600, each featuring 5.1 surround sound audio encoding.
In terms of picture quality, Toshiba boast that their "Pixel Pure 5G" engine optimises HD sources for maximum clarity, as well as enhancing standard definition sources. "ClearFrame" 120Hz technology will reduce the effects of motion-blur in fast action scenes, whilst a Gaming Mode ensures that there's little delay between controller inputs and the action on screen.
The Toshiba UX600 sets will launch in the US this month, with a starting price of $1,400. A UK release is expected to follow soon afterwards, with pricing yet to be announced.
Sony have today announced the release of two new sets of wireless headphones, the MDR-RF4000K and the MDR-RF810RK.
The MDR-RF4000K sets have been designed to complement the look of Sony's new "Monolithic" range of Bravia TVs. They feature a small charging dock which the headphones can be folded and tucked away into for storing, as well as a wireless range of 30 metres. 40mm long-stoke drivers provide a frequency response range of 12Hz to 22000kHz.
The black headphones will deliver 7 hours of music between charges, while popping in a single AAA battery will provide you with 10 hours of audio if you cant get to a wall socket. Closed-cap headphones allow for top-notch sound isolation, while there's also an adjustable headband for maximum comfort.
The MDR-RF810RK sets are a little lighter at 220 grams. They have a generous wireless range of 100 metres away from the base station, though that's likely only to benefit those with MTV Cribs-sized houses. Like the MDR-RF4000K, it features a 40mm driver, but a smaller frequency response of 20Hz to 20kHz. The rechargeable battery will last for 13 hours per charge, whilst an AAA battery will this time provide as much as 28 hours of audio playback.
Though no pricing details have yet been revealed, you'll be able to pick up the new Sony wireless headphone range in April.
Nanopoint have today unveiled their new mini qwerty keyboard, the KSK-3200RF. Billed as the "perfect conference" companion, the wireless keyboard also features a built in trackball for navigating PCs and browsers without a mouse.
Measuring just 29cm x 20cm and weighing just 245g, it's small and light enough to carry in one hand. The inbuilt wireless gear can work from ranges up to ten metres, while the keyboard's batteries can be recharged via USB with the included cable.
It may be a little on the titchy side for any lenghty word processing, but the KSK-3200RF is perfect for a spot of big screen web browsing on your TV with either a PS3 or a netbook hooked up.
The new KeySonic range is available now from Amazon, ebuyer, Scan, CCL and ARIA PC. The KSK-3200RF costs £34.99, and you can grab some more details by heading over to the keyboard's web page at www.nanopoint.co.uk.
If you're looking to throw some digital content around the house sans ugly wiring, then take a look at the Sitecom WL-355. A wireless media streaming hub, it's the latest addition to the company's Smart Living line and will set you back around £149.99.
A wireless dual-band USB adapter is plugged in to stream content from your home network straight to the device, while another USB port is available to plug a drive straight in and play your content if your internet speed isn't up to scratch. Using a 5GHz band should help to stream even 1080p video smoothly.
Sitecom are also introducing the WL-329 SL Wireless Media Adapter 300N. It adds wireless capabilities to the MD-270 TV Media Player, with a maximum streaming speed of 300Mbps.
Both items are available now. For more info, visit www.sitecom.com .
Kamikaze gear are launching the Wireless Charging Dock Duo for the Nintendo Wii console, allowing two controllers to be charged simultaneously via induction.
It's good news for clumsy Wii owners who cover their controllers in those rubbery casings to protect them; they're a nightmare to get on and off to change batteries, a bit like trying to dress an Action Man when you were a kid. No need here, thanks to the induction method, with the controllers just slipping into the dock to charge.
There are also battery packs for the unit available that are compatible with the Wii Balance board. Now you can use all those old charge cables as skipping ropes for your Wii Fit regime!
The Duo charger is in stores now and costs £29.99. If you game by yourself, don't let that extra dock mock your lonely heart; there's a cheaper, single remote charging option for £19.99. Take that happy couples!
The trend with notebooks and laptops right now is to make them smaller and smaller, so much so that they're nearly in danger of being dwarfed by DVD cases these days. But what if you need both the benefits of a portable machine and a larger screen? Intel may well have the solution.
Intel's Wireless HD Display technology (or WiDi) is one of the simplest wireless laptop streaming devices we've ever seen. It's virtually plug and play; after plugging the HD receiver into your TV via HDMI and performing a simple set-up wizard on your PC, a single button press can have up- or downscaled 720p video streamed straight to your flatscreen TV.
All compression is done on your PC, while the box does the decoding. Remarkably, the whole process rarely eats more than 5Mbps of your network speed when in use.
Artefacts once the video has hit your screen are kept to a minimum, and system resources only take about a 15% hit when on an average Core i5 set up.
Sony, Dell and Lenovo are already said to be looking into integrating the new technology into their machines. If you can't wait for that, you'll be able to pick the kit up yourself from the 17th of January from Best Buy if you're a US reader. No word on a UK launch date yet, but we'd expect to see this hit UK shores not long afterwards.
Rather than just sorting out your broadband connection, the as-yet-unnamed router also has a touchscreen and built in speaker, allowing users to access widgets like YouTube and to tune into internet radio stations. If you happen to have your router in your bedroom, the Qisda box will also double up as a clock radio.
Users can store files on the router's built in memory, although there is no access to your local network, which seems a bit of an oversight for a device like this.
While it's good to see its regular router functions will handle 802.11n just fine, it's more than a little stingy on Ethernet connections, with just one spare port on the back.
It's certainly an intriguing proposition, though it's difficult to ascertain yet how well equipped the router is to deliver on its promised content. More news on this one when we have it.
Are you sick of having a different remote for every bit of kit in your house? Thanks to ThinkFlood's new RedEye device, you now only need your iPhone or iPod Touch to control nigh on every remote-controlled gadget in your house.
Using an app, your iPhone sends a Wi-Fi signal to the RedEye dock which then in turn turns your commands into an IR signal that your AV gear can understand.
You can customise the app to tailor controls to each room, or control multiple devices at once with the help of macro functions. There is even basic multi-touch functionality, like two-finger volume sliding.
A drop in price could make this a very popular add-on indeed.
If you're interested in getting a RedEye dock, visit https://thinkflood.com/buy/products/redeye/. The unit costs US$188 (circa £112) and ThinkFlood will happily ship the RedEye to UK homes.
UPDATE - I checked with the company about Sky+ boxes - they said
Yes, RedEye can control Sky+ boxes. However, we do not yet have the infrared codes for Sky in our database, so you would need to "learn" the commands from your existing remote.