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Blumoo review: Control all your home entertainment gear from one app

Susie Ochs | May 28, 2014
With a few app updates and a syncing feature, Blumoo will be indispensible.

Customization is key
When you're using the app, you can swipe between the virtual remotes for each of your devices, or tap the Home button to see a grid of every device you've added. But the real power comes from customizing those remotes.

Tap the blue "hamburger" button in the top-left of any of the remotes to tweak the default setup to your heart's content: You can move buttons, delete buttons, rename buttons, or even remap them to different features. If you never use the number pad on your remote, get rid of it. If you ever want it back, just add it back.

Better yet, you can add new buttons that do whatever you want, even macros that use multiple pieces of gear. For example, to switch inputs with my TV's regular remote, I have to press Input, then use the arrow buttons to select HDMI 1 from a list, then press OK. With the Blumoo remote, I made a button that does all that with one tap, and labeled it HDMI 1.

I also made a button for watching movies that does kind of a ridiculous amount of things: It turns on the Blu-ray player, and switches the TV's input to that, while muting the TV's sound. Then it turns on the stereo, pauses while the stereo fires up, then selects the proper input on the stereo and adjusts the volume to just where I like. All that from one button. That used to be a three-remote juggling act every time.

Setting these up can take a while, and one thing the app desperately needs is a way to sync profiles to other phones. Once I got all my stuff set up my phone, I had to do the whole thing again on my husband's phone and then again on our family iPad. First-world, multi-device-household problems? Definitely. But having the app set up on more devices increases the chances that one of them is in arm's reach--and charged--whenever I'm on the couch. It's all about not having to get up!

Instead of bothering to swipe between the default remotes for each of your devices, you can roll your own with your most-used functions for each thing. Mine has my TV's volume, power, and a couple key inputs, as well as the directional pad and two buttons for my Apple TV, and some key controls for my stereo. You could even name virtual remotes after people: the babysitter's could have macros for the things she's most likely to do, so you don't have to leave her two pages of typed instructions next to a pile of five real remotes.

Bonus TV guide and streaming music
Once you've got the universal remote features up and running and tweaked to your heart's content, the Blumoo app's other two tabs feel like inconsequential add-ons, but they do add some value. The Guide tab shows you what's on TV, based on who your service provider is: cable, satellite, or good old over-the-air broadcast channels in your area. It's nice but I wouldn't miss it if it were gone.

 

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