Archives For Remotes

nec-soundpower

We’ve looked at quite a few remote controls in our day, but this is the first hand-powered one — no batteries required! The remote is a concept design by NEC and Soundpower, which obtains its power from the vibrations of your hand pressing the buttons.  Sort of a self-sustainable electronic device if you will. Unfortunately we won’t see anything like this in the near future, but it’s a very interesting concept nonetheless. Now if they could just make my phone battery-free…

Check out more of Brent’s reflections on tech, gadgets, software and media at Brent Evans Geek Tonic.

glidetv6

GlideTV Navigator is the latest entrant into the HTPC, over-the-top video remote control space. And, after several days with a review unit, two things have surprised me… in a very positive way.

First off,  I experienced none of the touchpad lag or jerkiness I’ve previously encountered using similar solutions such as the Zeevee box remote. And, in addition to typical finger tip control that you’d find on a laptop, GlideTV offers an optional ‘absolute’ mode where the touchpad represents your display: Touch the upper left of the sensor and your arrow/prompt/cursor appears in the upper left. Tap the center, see the cursor in the center. Etc. The touchpad itself, like the ones found in current Macbooks, is also clickable. Plus, it’s surrounded by an additional eight physical buttons. Without a doubt, this is the best remote touchpad I’ve used.

glidetv4

Secondly, after seeing the initial GlideTV press imagery, I was a bit skeptical of another two-handed remote. I want to efficiently control my devices without looking down, which is why I’ve never been a fan of tablet style touch screen solutions. But after a few days of use, I’m (partially) operating the GlideTV Navigator with one hand. And strangely, considering I’m right-handed, I’ve been using the remote in my left hand. It does require a certain amount of precision (and hopefully a 10′ UI with large buttons), but I’ve been trained well as a Call of Duty sniper.

glidetv5

The sculpted unit, with backlit buttons, is attractive — as is the matching charging base station. The RF USB receiver isn’t much to look at, but you’d most likely hang it off the back of your device. Speaking of which, Windows, Mac OS X, and the PS3 are supported. Although, your best bet is running Windows to utilize their web launchpad (shown up top) and virtual keyboard functionality (in the gallery below). (At least until the Alpha Mac software is made available in the next few weeks.) In lieu of their Java webtop, I preferred running Firefox on Windows in fullscreen/kiosk mode, having installed their FF plugin which facilitates text entry, to best enjoy web video. Of course, you can also control things like Boxee, Front Row, and SageTV* without using any GlideTV software at all.

What I can’t tell you is if the GlideTV Navigator is worth $150. Despite it’s solid performance and good looks (including beautiful packaging), one fifty seems a bit steep. (50% the cost of a PS3 you could be attaching it to. Or 75% of the cost of an iPod Touch which will run multiple virtual remotes.) Also, as anyone who maintains a HTPC will tell you, you can’t count of software devs to standardize on keyboard commands – which is ultimately how GlideTV interfaces with your computer using the standard HID protocol. From a consumer perspective, ignoring Glide’s need to profit, I’d prefer to see this product sold for $99. And see a higher-end unit, with tucked away QWERTY keyboard or even numeric keypad, occupying the $150 spot.

dvpremote

DVPRemote, which I originally came across back in August, has just received a substantial refresh. In addition to fundamental WiFi remote control of Roku’s media streamer ($99), the app author has worked closely with Roku to incorporate their graphics, enable auto-discovery (versus direct IP address entry), and add support for multiple units. I’ve had a preview copy of version 1.2 about a week and it operates as advertised. Grab it here for only 99 cents:  DVPRemote

i.TV, the premiere iPhone television guide and then some, is cooking up Roku remote support as well. The initial version out of their beta labs doesn’t include auto discovery, but i.TV has beefed up virtual remote functionality to support multiple (TiVo) units as requested. I played matchmaker between Roku and i.TV to get this remote going, which would explain my pre-release screengrabs below. Expect the free i.TV 2.1 to hit next month, but you can download the current release here: i. TV

itv-roku-remote

Sonos Does Twitter

Mari Silbey —  September 4, 2009

Sonos controller Twitter

The Twitter Everywhere meme is popular this week, and Sonos joins in by announcing (via Twitter) that soon owners of the multi-room music streaming experience will be able to tweet from their Sonos controllers. The new feature empowers listeners to share artist tracks with one click, or edit automated tweets before publishing.

I love this experimentation phase for Twitter. I don’t know that I have any interest in regularly tweeting my musical tastes, or in accessing Twitter from devices that don’t give me the full conversational experience. However, the idea of using Twitter in broadcast-only or receive-only mode is certainly gaining traction. Like PiMPY, the tweeting washing machine, it suggests new possibilities for both lifecasting and automated data collection.

With regard to Sonos specifically, my guess is that the company’s customer base is music-obsessed and sophisticated enough to make the new Twitter function appealing. The application will work from both the new Sonos Controller hardware and and their iPhone app later this year.

Click to enlarge:

wifi-roku-remote

I didn’t realize that my little Roku ($99) video streaming box has an open network interface. Like TiVo, one simply needs to telnet into port 8080 of the Roku from a LAN to issue commands. The first practical implementation, which I discovered over on Hacking Netflix, is the 99 cent iPhone/Touch DVPRemote app which allows you to wirelessly control a Roku. I can’t say I have a great need for this functionality, but it’s a cool hack that appeals to the geek in me.

Related, i.TV recently updated their (free) multipurpose iPhone entertainment app. In addition to featuring the best horizontal grid guide, Netflix queue management, and TiVo scheduling they’ve begun building out a virtual remote framework. And TiVo is up first. I prefer their look and layout over DVR Remote. However, i.TV doesn’t yet support multiple TiVo units or offer virtual QWERTY keyboard macros – which is probably the top reason to augment the peanut.

uverse-rf-remote

Normally, I wouldn’t bother drawing attention a new cable/telco remote control. However, what makes AT&T’s offering unique is that this $50 RF U-Verse remote is an optional accessory/upgrade, available via their website. I’ve received confirmation that the remote control is a Motorola creation, while the USB RF dongle was sourced elsewhere. At fifty bucks, AT&T won’t be making much money on this device but it’s a nice-to-have offering for the small number of subscribers who will understand and utilize RF to beam commands through solid objects. A nice touch is the dual inclusion of IR control, allowing folks to also power their televisions and other devices.

Digital Media Bytes

Dave Zatz —  June 4, 2009

A periodic roundup of relevant news… from our other blogs:

psp-go

Sony E3 2009 Press Conference Summary
The press conference and list of PS3 exclusives shown were better than expected. I’d put it on par with the Microsoft press conference. I was impressed with Sony’s marrying of a motion controller with high-end graphics. Though, as with Microsoft’s Natal, they are still only in the prototype stage.

Nintendo E3 2009 Press Conference Summary
Nintendo’s focus was, once again, on audience diversity – bringing gaming to everyone. Little of interest to hard core gamers. The third party exclusives and their one new ‘hardcore’ game were the only games that were somewhat interesting. Enough to purchase a Wii? Not even close.

The Future of the Remote Control
Motorola announced a new rechargeable IPTV remote control complete with “find” feature, USB port, and digital clock.  Now there’s word that Motorola is tinkering further with the gadget to add Voice over IP (VoIP) telephony.

Resources for the Broadcast DTV Transition
Most people are aware that the broadcast digital TV transition is scheduled to take place in nine days. However, being aware and doing something to make sure all your TVs still work after June 12th are two different things. Here’s a list of what you (and your neighbors, friends, and relatives) should know, as well as links to further resources.

Google Makes Move into eBooks
Google showed their intentions to begin a program enabling book publishers to sell eBook versions of their books directly to eBook readers through google at the annual BookExpo convention this past weekend. More eBooks available in more places should help eBooks hit the mainstream and lower eBook reader prices.