Review: Hot Link Pro

Review: Hot Link Pro

There are two areas of thought on displaying audio-visual equipment: those that like to showcase their equipment and those that like to conceal their equipment. I subscribe to the latter. Unlike children, I believe AV equipment should be heard but not seen.

Of course the problem with AV equipment is that the remotes tend to require line of sight unless all of your components can be controlled via radio instead of infrared. Typically, only the higher end components support radio and even then it’s usually only the receivers. To get around this problem, Hot Link Pro allows you to route the IR signals into a cabinet! In addition, the receiver eye is highly sensitive and greatly increases the range of your remotes.

ContentsHot Link Pro comes in a small box with a power supply, repeater box, confirmation LED and six IR emitters. In order to install, you need only five minutes and no tools. You first mount the receiver eye in a visible location. I mounted the receiver eye under the right corner of my TV. Next, you apply the emitters to the equipment you want to control using adhesive tabs on the emitters. Then, you can mount the confirmation LED in a visible location. The confirmation LED glows green when IR commands are sent. I actually hid my confirmation LED in the cabinet because I did not want to be distracted by a green glow whenever I touched the remote. Finally, you plug the repeater box into the AC outlet. You could probably install the Hot Link Pro in less time than it takes to read this review.

After you finish the installation process, you need to make sure the emitters are placed correctly over the IR ports on your AV equipment. Simply go through your remotes or your universal trying each device. If the device responds, move on; otherwise, you may need to reattach the emitters in a slightly different area.

Emitters There are a couple of things to think about before knowing that the Hot Link Pro is for you. First off, you need to think about the heat that the components will give off inside the cabinet. So far, my components have not overheated but the cabinet gets really warm. I plan on installing a vent to dissipate the heat in the cabinet.

Receiver Eye The receiver eye has some limitations. First off, the eye should not face direct sunlight, high powered flood lamps, 12 volt halogen lamps powered by switching type power supplies, or high-efficiency screw-in type fluorescent lamps. Microsmith also recommends installing the eye at least a foot away from the TV. I found this recommendation not to be a big deal as the eye is attached to the TV. The eye needs to be shielded from direct view of Plasma Discharge TVs that emit pulsed IR (there is another model that works with Plasma TVs). Also, some receivers use high frequency remote controls above 60Khz that are not repeatable through Hot Link Pro.

Before After Now that you know the caveats and how to install the Hot Link Pro, I am sure you want to know how well it works. As soon as the emitters are correctly placed the product flawlessly works like it was advertised. Placing the emitters can be tricky though as the IR eye on the AV equipment are usually larger than the emitters and you can not really tell where the actual eye is so you need to move the emitters around. This may take an additional five minutes though and is only a minor annoyance. What I really like about the Hot Link Pro, besides being able to hide my AV equipment, is the extended range of remotes. I have tested the remotes upwards of 40 feet away from the eye and the IR extender worked. Without Hot Link Pro, the remotes did not work at the same length so the range has been extended!

Hot Link Pro was a Gizmo of the Day on July 29, 2004.

What’s Groovy and What’s Sucky

What’s Groovy: The product is very easy to install and extends the range that remotes can work.

What’s Sucky: Sometimes placing the emitters is not easy. Luckily, replacement adhesive tabs are apparently free for the asking from Microsmith.

Features Performance Quality Value
4 Stars 5 Stars 3 Stars 4 Stars
As mentioned in the Groovy section, the extended range of remotes is an excellent bonus. For some people, having the confirmation LED would be a nice feature as well although I did not need or want it. The performance is flawless once correctly setup and exceeds expectations by extending the range of the remotes. The only ding on quality is the adhesive tabs. Once used for a while, if you remove them they become unusable. Other solutions such as IR extenders that use RF to talk from the receiver eye to a base unit exist at a third of the price. However, the IR extenders do not come with emitters. To add four emitters, the price jumps to the same price or even more than Hot Link Pro. Hot Link Pro is a self-contained solution and ends up being a great value.
Overall
4 Stars
If you need to hide your AV components in a cabinet, Hot Link Pro is the way to go.