Archives For Remotes

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.

Read the rest of this entry at Brent Evans Geek Tonic to win a USB-UIRT ยป

Woot’s offering the TiVo HD (refurb) for a low $165, shipped. Like all Woot deals, you’ll need to act fast. As in today. And before they sell out. I believe this is the lowest we’ve seen THD and it’s a great price to get in on. With the money you save, I suggest picking up the very nice TiVo Glo remote to replace the traditional TiVo controller – unless you’re using a Harmony or similar.

(via Gizmo Lovers)

Gizmodo has gone back in time to document the evolution of the TiVo peanut remote, including a few unique images – such as molds and prototypes.

What caught my eye were images of a remote stand (where can I get a couple?) and discussions of a more text-entry friendly remote. For some time, I thought an Xbox-style Chatpad would be the way to go. However the Vudu (scrollwheel), Wii (motion sensor), and FiOS TV DVR (triple tap) have proven there are more efficient ways to “type” without squeezing a full-on keyboard into the remote.

And while we’re talking TiVo remotes, over the years my two favorites have been the Toshiba SD-H400 (other than ‘zero’ key placement) and the Series3/Glo (below). Additional info on Series3/Glo remote improvements over the Series2/THD can be found here.

PC Mag has spoken: the ESPN Ultimate Remote ain’t all that. Mari was feeling good after a brief device intro at The Cable Show, but my pal (and fellow IU alumn) PJ tested the WiFi remote in an AV environment and has graced it with only 2 out of 5 stars:

The problem is, despite its $300 price tag, it is not particularly simple to set up or use, and it doesn’t execute any of its fancy Web tricks gracefully.

Though PJ prefers the Harmony One, he’s hopeful that the Windows CE-based Ultimate Remote will see some software improvements that justify the steep price of entry.

Looking for an alternative to the Harmony? It now exists. As I was leaving the floor at the Cable Show, I got the lowdown on the new Ultimate Remote from tvCompass. In a quick demo I was particularly impressed with the TV Guide EPG rendering – not an easy thing to get right on such a small screen. Even more important, however: the remote is WiFi-enabled, meaning plenty of extras like messaging and content applications. It’s launching with ESPN and associated sports content, but the partnership opportunities are really limitless. Operators are apparently looking at the tvCompass product, too. You can pre-order the ESPN version on Amazon. Hefty price tag at $299.99, but I bet there’ll be quite a few willing to shell it out.

In less than two weeks, we’ve gone from a manual keyboard kludge to a more polished method of TiVo network remote control (Ubuntu above, iPhone below). By using the Crestron hooks TiVo incorporated into the Fall 2007 Update, folks are beginning to design graphical apps. However, I still believe there’s more powerful and practical uses for this “hack”… TiVo could and should assist by documenting and expanding interface options – both via this port (31339) and the existing HTTPS/XML entrance.

Brent and I are giving away a Firefly PC Remote ($50), courtesy of Snapstream. For remote details, check out my brief hands on or Brent’s extensive review. The rules are simple: Leave a comment on this post saying you want in. However, your comment must be accompanied by a Gravatar image/icon – sign up here. (It’s painless, really.) Please be located in the lower 48 (US) and we’ll randomly choose a winner later this week.

The latest TiVo hack doesn’t actually require any hacking. Last fall, TiVo partnered up with Creston to integrate the Series3 into their home automation framework. While I haven’t heard anything since, it turns out the hooks are wide open (via Omikron) to any application or hardware on one’s home network – and possibly well beyond by implementing router port fowarding. Until something more polished is developed, the telnet protocol allows you to manually feed a variety of remote commands to a networked TiVo. For example, in the video above, I’m using a terminal application on my jailbroken iPhone as a rudimentary WiFi remote control. There’s some real interesting potential here…

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