Some background: As we prepare to move to Florida, we are looking to simplify our home theater a bit. Given how well the Xbox 360 works as a media center extender, we have decided to use it as our main media device in our living room.
Just for fun, we bought some el-cheapo faceplates for the 360, two faceplates in one package for $19. The faceplates went on just fine, and the tropical one looked nifty.
Now begins the interesting part. We also purchased a Harmony remote for the 360. We use several Harmony remotes in our house, have recommended them to others, and installed them for clients.
When messing around with the remote, it worked quite well controlling our HP x5400 Media Center Extender in the home office. However, when I brought it into the living room to see how well it worked on the 360, I found that it didn’t function well at all unless it was roughly 3 feet away from the 360 and directly in front of the infrared pickup window! Not an ideal situation.
After much troubleshooting, I discovered that the cheap 360 faceplate was to blame for the problem. I swapped it out and put the factory faceplate back on, and the remote began working appropriately.
One thing that is quite interesting is the design of the infrared pickup in the 360. Normally, you can see the IR pickup in the red window on a piece of home theater equipment by shining a flashlight on it. With the 360, that won’t work. The vast majority of the IR pickup window isn’t actually see through. If you take the faceplate off of the 360 and look at the back of it, there is a plastic "stick" that projects from the IR window, which is what channels the IR beam down to the pickup about 1/4 an inch behind the faceplate. I wonder why MS didn’t simply make the IR pickup window be just a 1/8" hole in the faceplate. I’m sure it’s a global consipiracy to drive up the sales of red translucent plastic.