PS3 and Universal Remotes

So now that Toshiba threw in the HD-DVD towel maybe you're thinking, "OK I should get myself a sweet, sweet PS3 and some Blu-Ray discs." But there's a problem and that problem is universal remotes. If you aren't using a universal remote than you're A ) foolish and B ) very likely a bachelor. I talked about my Harmony 880 remote before and there are newer Harmony remotes out there so I might not recommend buying an 880 today, but I really highly recommend the Harmony line.

The fly in the ointment is that the PS3 doesn't have an IR receiver. It uses Bluetooth for the Sony remote. The Sony remote works well enough, but once you achieve one remote nirvana having that second around is really irking. I recently found out that Nyko sells a IR dongle and small little remote for the PS3, called the Nyko BluWave ($14 at Amazon). You plug the dongle into an USB port on the PS3 and then teach the remote codes to the Harmony. (I did that last night, but I've since learned today that apparently you can PICK Nyko->BluWave as a device on the Harmony and it will download the codes.)

This isn't perfect. There are two minor problems and one fairly big one. The first is that a USB device can't turn on the PS3, so there's no power button on the Nyko remote. (The Sony Bluetooth remote does have a power button.) This isn't huge, it's only an issue if you already had a Blu-Ray disc in the drive and wanted to power it on from the couch, and don't have a controller within arm's reach.

The second minor problem is that the Nyko remote doesn't have all the buttons of the Sony remote - it lacks both the 10 key keypad and the colored buttons. I'm not sure this is a problem at all, I've never used those on my PS3. I'm a little worried about the Blue/Red/Yellow/Green buttons because I assume those are for Blu-Ray features and I might want them at some point in the future.

The much bigger problem is really annoying. If you have the USB dongle connected to the PS3 and you turn on the PS3 via a wireless controller the dongle apparently becomes controller 1. (The Sony Bluetooth remote somehow manages to always be controller 7.) The controller you just used to turn on the console ends up being controller 2. Most games won't play ball with this. Oddly enough if you turn the controller off and then back on it ends up being controller, but that's an awfully clunky workaround.

After some thought my current plan is to leave the dongle sitting by the PS3 and only plug it in when playing a Blu-Ray. Figure I'm up there turning the console on anyway, so it's not a big deal to connect the dongle at that time.

Given all that, personally I think it's worth $14 to let my Harmony control disc playback. I can't quite unconditionally recommend the BluWave, but I guess you can weigh the issues listed above versus the issue of having to use two remotes (the horror) to watch movies.

Update 2/22/08: I realized today that if you're in a game on the PS3 that you can reassign a controller ID. There's a menu that comes up when you press the PS button. This is where you can turn off the controller or the system, or quit the game and return to the Cross Media Bar (XMB). There's also an option called "Controller Options" and from there you can reassign the controller ID. So now I leave the USB dongle plugged in, but I can grab a controller, start a game and then correct the whole controller 2 thing. Still a pain, but better than having to turn the controller off and on again.