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Accessory Review: New Potato FLPR, turn your iPhone into a universal remote

You say poh-tah-toe, I say New Potato FLPR. Of course, we’re talking about different things here. Your word should be mashed up and served with gravy, whereas mine should be attached to an iPhone to turn it into a universal IR remote for everything from TV’s to projector mounts. Does that clear things up?

First Impressions
The first thing I noticed about the FLPR (Fast Learning Programmable Remote) is that it comes in a box that ‘s about 20 times the size of the actual product. It just strikes me as extremely wasteful packaging, despite the fact that this is supposed to be a product sold on Best Buy shelves (there must be other, more efficient means of presenting a universal remote dongle).

Packaging issues aside, however, the FLPR makes a pretty good first impression. This was the first integrated iPhone accessory I had used that wasn ‘t a Bluetooth receiver or battery, and I was keen to see how well this New Potato product would work.

Installation was amazingly simple. All I had to do was stick the FLPR into the bottom of the iPhone, at which point the App Store loaded up a special accessory-based screen that presented me with the free FLPR iPhone app. I downloaded and loaded the app, agreed to update the drivers over-the-air, and was all set to go. No extra batteries were needed since the FLPR runs off of the iPhone ‘s power.

Software setup
Setting up the FLPR for your household TV ‘s, PVR ‘s, and various media players couldn ‘t be simpler. All you need to do is add a device, filter by brand, and add the model of your TV. We haven ‘t bought new TV ‘s in *ages*, but the FLPR was able to control our Samsung and Sharp TV ‘s perfectly with sets of universal drivers. If there does happen to be a TV that FLPR doesn ‘t have drivers for, the app can learn how to control the device (or a specific key for a device) as long as you still have the remote for it.

Speaking of keys: you can ‘t hide buttons that you don ‘t use, but you can tell the app to hide keys that aren ‘t relevant to the device you ‘re controlling. Switching devices is a very fast and simple affair, requiring one tap at the top of the screen to bring up the scrollable device list, and then another tap to select your chosen device. Each remote has momentum scrolling on it, although there isn ‘t an easy way to reach the top of a remote when you ‘re viewing the bottom row of keys.

The only downside to the app is its appearance. Considering the $80 price tag (free app, expensive dongle), the folks at New Potato really could have tried a lot harder with regards to the remote skins and buttons. The actual layout of remotes is fine, but the skins look like an afterthought, and are badly in need of a makeover.

Macros
If it were plausible, I ‘d put a ‘Works with your Parents ‘ alongside the ‘Works with iPhone ‘ sticker. With the addition of macros, the FLPR turns any iPhone or iPod Touch into a remote that (even) my mother can use. You can set macros to turn on the TV, PVR, and set the channel to the weather network, all in just one tap of a macro.

New Potato even built in one, two, and five second pauses into the macro setup, so you can take into account the time it takes for your PVR to boot up and receive instructions.

Macros can be created via the ‘add device ‘ dialogue, and you can tap and hold on a macro (below the device list ) to delete it. You can ‘t edit or rename macros, though.

Supports more devices than I could ever own
Although I ‘ve tried to provide a thorough review of the FLPR, the device just supports too many remote devices that I don ‘t own. These include projectors,  projector lifts, automated drapes, lights, iPod docks, and more. If you ‘d like more information on what the FLPR supports, I recommend a visit to the New Potato website.

Hardware Setup
The FLPR features a very small, unassuming design that fits with most light iPhone cases (see the pictures for a better idea of the size). The dongle is lightweight, secures firmly to the iPhone ‘s charging port, and has an IR beam should work fine for most any living room setup. One really cool extra touch is the way that the FLPR app auto-orients itself when you insert the device. This serves as a great reminder not to point the remote at yourself while ‘trying to turn the fandangled TV on ‘.

Conclusion
I could simply have said that the FLPR works as advertised and that really would have been enough. I haven ‘t had any major issues with the device or the app and despite my complaints about the packaging and UI skins, the remote has been a joy to use.

The only sticking point is the $80 price tag, which I still find rather hefty, even after having had two weeks to get used to the device. Then again, if you compare the price of the FLPR to other touchscreen remotes (usually around $200+ if you look at Logitech Harmony remotes) and add the fact that the FLPR leverages a device you already own, New Potato ‘s chosen price might not be so bad after all.

The only time I wouldn ‘t recommend an FLPR for simplifying your remote life is if you ‘re the type who already has trouble finding your current, gigantic remotes. The FLPR is pretty darn small, and it can be an easy $80 to misplace if you don ‘t keep track of it.

You can purchase an FLPR for $80 from the NewPotato website or from your local Best Buy (US only, I believe).
The FLPR was provided by New Potato for review on Just Another iPhone Blog. For further information regarding our site’s review policies, please see the “About” page.

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  • Great review. Thanks! I won't be touching this product, though. Using the 30-pin connector is a big mistake. You can't sync, tether, or charge your phone while using the thing. Can't keep it on a dock. Worst of all, you have to hold your iPhone upside down. Meh. I'm sure it'll work great for some people. I think the RedEye mini has far more potential, though:
    http://thinkflood.com/products/redeye-mini/what-i

  • Yikes! Never heard of that before — that IS pretty kickass. And less expensive, to boot. Good find, sysrage!

  • Kevin

    TO bad the Redeye Mini cant keep stock due to recalls and production flaws. 🙁