The Short Version: I don’t think the ARi3G remote is worth buying, not even as a backup remote. You’re better off paying more for an original Apple TV remote, which you’ll be more satisfied with.
We’ve been having issues with the range of the Apple TV remote when used with the X10 IR repeater in the bedroom. It seems to work fine in the living room but in the bedroom the remote range is probably about half of what it should be. I think the main cause of this problem is actually the IR repeater. However, the other remotes that we use do work better than the Apple TV remote.
I decided to purchase an Acoustic Research ARi3G remote, which is made to work with an Apple TV. My assumption was that it would have better range since it uses two AAA batteries, instead of the watch battery the factory remote uses. It only cost about $10.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem to be any better. The range is exactly the same. In addition, the main “play” button doesn’t seem to function consistently, which makes it a pain to use when fast-forwarding. The motion-activated back-light is too sensitive. Any movement on my bed would trigger it on even though it was sitting on a separate nightstand. Granted, it only cost $10 but it wasn’t worth purchasing.
The most likely cause was a low battery. Unfortunately, I didn’t have a spare 2025 “watch battery” at the house. I did have a fresh 2032 battery. Hell, I thought, why not? Even the circuit board in the remote has 2032 printed on it. It might have nothing to do with the preferred battery type, but I went ahead and replaced it with the 2032, which did fit.
The range is back to working the same as that of the other remotes. It’s possible this might eventually fry the remote, so if you choose to go this route then you’ve been warned that it could be damaged.
Note: Most of this information is probably only applicable to households with a Philips TV and DVD player.
Tonight I ran into an unexpected problem. While trying to watch a DVD in our bedroom the TV input was changed from HDMI2 (where the living room sources are connected) to HDMI1 (where nothing is connected). It happened any time I tried to pause or play the movie. In fact, it seemed to happen every time I pressed any button on the remote.
I quickly eliminated the possibility of the DVD remote sending signals to the TV by preventing the IR from reaching the TV. The problem still occurred.
After a moment I remembered another problem we previously encountered in which the DVD player was turning the TV back on a moment after the TV was turned off. I neglect to post about the issue but long story short the EasyLink capability built into both Philips devices caused the TV to turn back on if the DVD player was still on (or was in the process of shutting down). The solution was to turn the DVD player off before powering off the TV (since then I’ve also shut off the available EasyLink options in the DVD player).
Tonight’s problem seems to be related. I disabled the DVD players EasyLink functions. However, even though the TV appears to have EasyLink support the setup menu does not include any options to disable it.
I noticed that when the TV source is changed by the DVD player it always reverts to HDMI1. Before I purchased the matrix switch we only used the DVD player in the bedroom, where it was connected on HDMI1. At that point I realized the DVD player’s behavior hadn’t actually changed. We hadn’t noticed it before because it was already on HDMI1 and tonight was the first time we had tried to play a DVD since adding the switch.
It’s not a true fix, but the workaround was simply to move the incoming living room HDMI connection from HDMI2 over to HDMI1 on the bedroom TV. Now the DVD player appears to operate as expected without changing the TV source.
Once the ASUS EeeBox seemed to be configured and working well I decided to search for a wireless keyboard and mouse that I could use to control the system. Granted, there’s nothing wrong with the keyboard and mouse that came with the system but I wanted to find something much smaller, which I could leave on a table with the other remotes.
Running a quick search for HTPC and keyboard on Amazon.com immediately hit upon the Rii mini. It’s a small, wireless keyboard and touchpad that operates in the 2.4 GHz range. It had good reviews, all of the features I was looking for, and was only about $35. I went ahead and ordered one.