Archives For Remotes

After only about two months in the App Store, Roku’s addressed my biggest complaint with their free virtual remote control. In addition to navigating one’s digital media streamer by swiping, Roku has now integrated a “standard” D pad option that responds to individual taps. While it does get the job done, the presentation seems a bit spartan – beyond what I assume are promotional Netflix, Pandora, and Crackle shortcuts that mirror the physical Roku LT remote. And speaking of physical remotes, not all contain the instant replay button – and this oversight should be a primary draw for Roku’s iPhone app. The updated app also includes faster Home screen loading and improved device discovery, having no difficulty locating my latest hardware. However, there’s still no sign of an official Android or iPad app. Should you have just such a need, check out Cassidy Napoli’s “Remoku” creation that enables Roku control via a web browser.

In the last year, a whole lot of iPhone-based universal remote controls have hit the scene. We’ve primarily focused on the higher end offerings, like Peel and RedEye shortly, as potential Harmony replacements or successors. Yet that may be overkill for certain situations or demographics. And I’ve just been turned onto MyTVRemote – whose intentions may not be as grandiose, but may still provide a compelling solution dependent on one’s needs.

While they’ve flown below my radar, RyzMedia has offered My TVRemote for some time…  and they’ve got news to share today. A more colorful and potentially more aesthetically pleasing IR blaster replaces the original. I’m told the range is a modest 14 feet, yet I envision using this as a second universal remote in the bedroom. What I like about this solution, over say an L5, is that the IR blaster sits atop the iPhone – meaning you don’t have to hold your phone upside down. Continue Reading…

ZNF regular Chucky seeks our assistance in choosing the right iOS IR remote solution for his situation…


I’ve always avoided Harmony universal remotes. I’ve never really liked the Harmony UI, in either the touchscreen or physical button incarnations. But now, with the variety of iOS based universal remotes available, I’m suddenly interested in getting myself a universal remote with a better UI.

In figuring out which remote to buy, I have specific needs, which may greatly vary from yours. I place a high degree of value on software that is easy to use on a daily basis, easy to customize, and easy to initially learn. I’m willing to “teach” the new remote my button codes by pointing old remotes at it. In short, I’m willing to spend 1 day setting up the new remote just the way I want in order to enjoy it the next 364 days of the year.

The hardware must be functional, with a minimum of hassles on a regular basis, but I’ll take good software over good hardware for this project.

Also, I rarely watch live TV, and prefer scheduling my DVR recordings from the massive real estate and fine control offered by desktop or laptop computers, so programming “discovery” is not high on my priorities.

Here are the devices I’m looking to control for my single room media center: Continue Reading…


Unlike the incomplete and stagnant Premiere, TiVo’s iPad app has seen regular updates since release. And the latest brings a handful of improvements:

What’s New in Version 1.2
-New channel search feature which allows you to search channels in the guide by channel number or station name (Ex: ESPN, etc)
-New fast channel indexes in the guide allow you to quickly jump to a group of channels by channel number
-New disk space meter in My Shows lets you see the percentage of disk space the DVR is using
-Fixes crashing/connection loss issues when waking the app from standby or resuming after multitasking
-Significant performance improvements

While TiVo’s couch-based DVR companion is amongst the most well rounded and visually rich, the interface can get a bit busy. The new channel search (bottom, center pic) is a prime example. Continue Reading…

Over the last year or so, we’ve come a long way from those initial, unsightly and simplistic iPhone IR remote control dongles. And Peel ($100) represents the next generation of virtual remote. In fact, it’s potentially a contender to replace your Harmony.

The Peel solution consists of an attractive iPhone app, a small orb-like thingy (“fruit”) that you’d place on a coffee- or end-table, and a wireless transmitter (“cable”) that connects directly one’s router. The Peel fruit and cable communicate via the ZigBee spec, as opposed to garden-variety 80211 WiFi, so the fruit may get up to 6 months of power from the included C battery. But the networking is transparent as setup is a breeze – connectivity is automatically configured with next to no intervention. Sync and go.

Configuring Peel to control the devices in your AV cabinet is also fairly efficient. It may not offer the same level of complex interactions as found with Harmony, but it also doesn’t require endless tweaking from a computer. Peel’s iPhone app quickly walks you through the process of registering your components. I had a loaner unit controlling my Panasonic plasma and FiOS DVR in just a minute or so from the couch. A minute later, I had my Roku added to the mix with the television inputs correctly mated to their respective set-tops. Continue Reading…

The virtual remote news just keeps on coming… TiVo went ahead and updated their free iPad companion app yesterday. In addition the various bug fixes, better support for multiple DVRs, and background functionality, one user reports a noteworthy upgrade notice:

This app currently requires a TiVo Premier Series 4 DVR. Support for RCN and Suddenlink Premier Boxes, along with limited support for TiVo Series 3/TiVo HD DVRs, is coming soon.

At launch, and as currently designed, the iPad app only supports new TiVo Premiere hardware. Although TiVo has alluded to supporting additional mobile OSes, like Android, we haven’t heard anything in regards to support for previous generation DVR hardware, like the Series 3 and TiVo HD.

Who knows if enabling support for “legacy” DVRs was part of the original plan or is related to customer feedback – TiVo has indeed taken some lumps on Twitter, the forums, and even their blog. Regardless, it’s nice to see this functionality on the roadmap. Now all we need to know is when… and what limitations?

(Thanks to Josh, Rob, and Steve for helping track down the visual evidence!)


iOS remote week continues here at ZNF… As the very fine Roku DVPRemote ($3) was updated early this morning to version 2.1. I’ve been using the app for a few days via my Verizon iPhone (seeya, AT&T), and the two most notable new features are the full fledged gesture area and graphical channel icons.

While DVPRemote has always provided a virtual representation of Roku’s physical remote, the update provides a toggle-able gesture area (above, right) designed “to support heads-up, TV screen-facing operation.” I’m not quite sure if I’ll be putting this feature to use on a regular basis, but there’s a pretty comprehensive list of smooth interactions to choose from:

  • U = UP, D = Down, L = Left, R = Right
  • Single finger swipe U, D, L , R for U, D, L, R
  • Drag finger U, D, L, R for repeated U, D, L, R
  • Single finger tap to select OK
  • Two finger tap to select play/pause
  • Two finger swipe R for fast forward
  • Two finger swipe L for rewind
  • Two finger swipe D for instant replay
  • Two finger swipe U for info

One of my favorite features of DVPRemote is direct channel navigation. Meaning, instead of scrolling through a list of Roku channels on the television one by one, simply tap a visual representation from the iPhone to bring that content up. The first cut was textual. But DVPRemote 2.1 makes it much more visually rich by using channel banner graphics. Which also happens to be more efficient. However, for better use of space, I’d like to see a 2.2 update move to grid view of channels over the current vertical listing. Continue Reading…

Looks like TiVo is skipping a simplistic mobile remote control app, leapfrogging directly from their limited mobile website to a supercharged iPad app… that is much more than a mere remote. The upcoming app appears to replicate nearly all TiVo functionality in your lap and, most impressive, doesn’t duplicate what’s on screen — meaning you can browse the guide or your recordings without interrupting whatever’s already on screen. From the press release:

  • Gesture based control – Take complete control of all recordings, even dragging forward and back through a show with a simple tap or swipe
  • Start watching what you want – Launch a recorded show, live TV or streaming video with the swipe of a finger
  • Program guide – Browse your full-screen TV program guide without interrupting TV viewing
  • Schedule – Schedule one-time recordings and Season Pass recordings from the device at home or on-the-go
  • Get more from your shows and movies – Explore cast and crew and other recommendations of your favorite shows without interrupting the big screen
  • Search – Search for all of your favorite TV shows, movies, actors or directors across both broadcast and broadband from Netflix, Amazon Video On Demand, and more

Additionally, the iPad app will enable users to fire off tweets and Facebook status updates about the shows their watching, spoilers and all. Although it’s a heck of a lot more natural way to communicate online than the early kludgey Twitter-on-TV apps we’ve seen.

In talking to TiVo, Premiere DVR hardware will see a software update to support the new app. And, given what it does, they’ve obviously added a slew of new hooks accessible via WiFi. Although it’s yet to be seen if third party developers will be able to tap into them. Additionally, TiVo has nothing to say at this time regarding other mobile devices or platforms. Although anything destined for a smaller screen iPhone or Android handset would surely require a reworked UI given how much they’ve packed in.

TiVo says this free iPad companion app will be available “in the coming weeks” and I assume they’ve decided to pre-announce with the knowledge that folks are currently stocking up on holiday gifts.

Click to enlarge: