Hands-on: Doctor Who Sonic Screwdriver Universal Remote Control review
One of the stars of Comic Con in San Diego this year was quintessentially British, built with love, care and attention to detail, and a fully functional gadget to boot. The Doctor Who Sonic Screwdriver Universal Remote Control was a true show-stopper and Pocket-lint has now got its mortal hands on one to give it a whirl.
It's created and built by The Wand Company, the firm behind the Kymera Magic Wand universal remote, and we were told in a one-to-one chat that the Sonic Screwdriver is different because it's a collectible and, if you like, big boy's toy first and foremost, universal remote control second.
In fact Chris Barnardo, co-director of the company, believes that not many will use it to replace their existing remote controls. They may link it to an iPhone dock or suchlike, he told us, but even though it can store up to 39 different IR commands, it's more a fantastic gift for Doctor Who fans.
That's because while you can program it by pointing your existing remote at the IR sensor in the tip and matching movements with button presses, there's much, much more to the Sonic Screwdriver than, perhaps, even The Wand before it.
For starters, one of its modes allows you to access a well-stocked audio bank of sound effects from Doctor Who series past and present. Flick the remote one way and you'll get a beep or clip, the other a different one, twist another, and so on. There are 13 sound effects in total, which is definitely lucky for some.
Another mode we've made good use of is practice. Although it uses similar technology inside, the Sonic Screwdriver differs from its forebear, The Wand, in that a computerised female voice has been added to guide you through usage (it's not too dissimilar to the voice of Suranne Jones - vessel for the matrix of the Tardis in episode The Doctor's Wife).
When you perform a motion with the Screwdriver, she explains what movement you've performed. It allows you to figure out all the different permutations if you do decide to use it to control your television, for example.
The motions we think are perhaps the easiest to get to grips with (literally) are pushing forward, pulling back, and rotation the device. Therefore, you could program forwards to switch on a speaker dock, back to switch it off, and twist clockwise or counter-clockwise to raise or lower the volume.
Add flick right and left to swipe through tracks and bingo - a fully-fledged iPhone dock remote. Easy as pie.
There are several other modes too, each accessible through a sequence of quick or long presses of the Sonic Screwdriver's only button (on the bottom). There's a quiet control mode that offers an alternative to the normal ones that accompany movements with authorised audio clips. And you can lock your remote with a pin - again, entered through numbers of button presses.
If somebody then tries to use the Screwdriver without unlocking, it will sound a Doctor Who-style alarm.
The Wand Company has also added a few Easter Eggs for fans who wish to fiddle. We won't give away any major spoilers, save for one: leave your Sonic Screwdriver stationary but switched on for a minute and it will transmit a morse code message. We'll leave you to find out what it says, and to look for others.
The final, but possibly most important thing to talk about is the build quality of the device. To be completely honest, when we first saw a picture of the remote, coupled with the RRP of £59.99, we expected a plastic replica with a spot of metallic paint in the right places.
It's no word of a lie that when we first picked one up for real, we were more than pleasantly surprised. There is nothing tacky or cheap about The Wand Company's latest product. It is made of several materials, with die-cast metal being liberally adopted. This makes the controller satisfyingly heavy in the hand, and it feels solid enough to bash through a Sontaran's helmet.
The contrasting materials also mean that the Sonic Screwdriver Universal Remote Control looks authentic when viewed up close, and the manufacturer has even supplied a presentation case for those who want to keep it on the mantelpiece rather than in use. Even that exhibits a care for attention, with the face plate written in Gallifreyan.
Considering the number of Doctor Who fans worldwide, The Wand Company has crafted a winner here. As Barnardo and business partner Richard Blakesley say, "We've built the first working Sonic Screwdriver", and while it can't open locked doors (without a sophisticated IR sensor system installation and a few minutes of programming with the original remote) it'll no doubt have as many dads pretending to be Time Lords as it will kids.
The Doctor Who Sonic Screwdriver Universal Remote Control will be available from Firebox.com at the end of August for £59.99. Pre-orders are open now.
Are you interested in the Sonic Screwdriver remote? Will you use it or keep it as a collectible? Let us know in the comments below...