Universal Remote Unveils PSX-2 Personal Server — and Finds a Way to Overcomplicate the iPod

Universal Remote Control, Inc. (URC), last month announced the PSX-2 Personal Server, which enables custom installers to deliver what they call “unmatched iPod docking functionality” to consumers who seek truly integrated home entertainment experiences. With the PSX-2 Personal Server, users can control iPods from the comfort and convenience of the same remote controls they use to control their TVs and home audio systems (sounds good so far) — and with a much higher and more customized level of control than is available on the iPod itself (hmm, that sounds questionable).

Current iPod docks provide on-screen TV interfaces that functionally mimic the iPod interface (you know the one, the one Apple spent millions on perfecting so that even your 83-year old grandmother can figure it out), but because the iPod is based on a limited number of buttons and a small screen, Universal Remote Control says that users must “tediously navigate up and down through a series of nested menus,” and must internalize a “mental map” of where special features are accessed. With the help of their custom installers and the PSX-2, users can more easily exploit all of the iPod’s features, including some obscure and rarely used ones, with the touch of a single button. It’s easy to create playlists on the fly, shuffle music, create favorites, and sort music using a variety of parameters — all with far fewer button presses than would be required with the standard iPod interface – OK, I buy that one.

But, in good ole’ “let’s overcomplicate the user-interface experience fashion,” the PSX-2 actually provides hundreds (yes, hundreds) of discrete IR codes that cover virtually every iPod function, and even functions that aren’t available on the iPod itself (therefore, ones never actually used by consumers), such as commands for each of the iPod’s EQ settings and the ability to perform alpha searches. Through the remote and a connected TV, custom installers can now completely overcomplicate the use of the industry’s easiest to use consumer component ever with the PSX-2.