If you delve very far into the world of home theater PCs (HTPCs), one of the first things you’ll want to tackle is freeing yourself from the keyboard and mouse. To really transform your HTPC into more of a set-top box and less of a computer, you’ll obviously want to control it with a remote – aka the 10-foot interface.
The most popular and arguably best way to do this is with a simple little device called the USB-UIRT (Universal Infrared Receiver Transmitter). This IR receiver/transmitter may not be the most exciting part of the HTPC, but it certainly is one of the more important components. In plain speak, the simple-looking device lets you control your PC with a remote control and, in turn, has your PC control a cable or satellite set-top box. The USB-UIRT connects to your computer through the USB port and allows your computer to receive IR signals from any IR remote. I’ve used it with my old TV remote, a Hauppauge remote, the SageTV HD Extender remote, a URC MX-500 remote, Haromy 880 remote and many others. You should be able to use about any remote control that emits IR – which would be most of them. Another important feature of the USB-UIRT is that it can send (blast) IR signals to control most of your AV equipment such as a DVD player, receiver, etc. You can also program the USB-UIRT to handle “discreet codes” (power on only, or power off only, for instance) that aren’t found on a standard remote control.
The USB-UIRT works out of the box with many programs including SageTV’s HTPC software. Even if the program you want to remote control doesn’t natively support USB-UIRT, you can use Eventghost, LMGestion, Girder, Intelliremote and a whole host of other software apps to enable control of various IR devices.