Archives For Remotes


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:


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.

Kodak in the Living Room

Mari Silbey —  January 9, 2009

I stopped by the Kodak booth to check out their Wi-Fi photo frames (also getting FrameChannel content), but spent most of my time playing with the Kodak Theatre HD Player. It was launched last fall, but only online and in select Best Buy stores. It’s basically just another media extender – YouTube, Internet radio stations, etc. – except since it’s Kodak the company highlights the photo sharing capabilities. In the video above, check out the photo discovery app. The software starts displaying photos at random on your TV, but if you click one it can bring up other photos taken in the same month across multiple years. View only your summer pics or take a stroll through Christmases past.

The other cool thing about the device is its remote. It gestures and has a scroll wheel, and its entirely intuitive. The remote and the Kodak Player’s interface are both licensed from Hillcrest Labs. Despite Dave’s skepticism, I’m a fan.

The New Remotes of CES

Dave Zatz —  January 9, 2009

Over these last few years we’ve innovative new methods to remotely control our television (devices) have started to crop up. Both the hardware and 10′ interface. With the driving force being the exponential increase in the number of channels and types of content we receive.

Some will be more successful than others… this is the third CES I’ve seen Hillcrest Labs exhibit their motion control solution, which predates Nintendo’s Wii controller. However, they seem to have picked up only a little traction in licensing their tech to Logitech and Kodak. Frankly, I’m not so interested in waving my arm around like Harry Potter. But there have been advances I can get behind. Like Vudu’s scrollwheel. Utilizing it probably requires more precision than, say, my mom could handle, but I find it very effective for scrolling through tons of content at high speed and it does an OK job for transport control. But, enough of this scrolling already…

Which is why Vizio’s QWERTY slider remote prototype (pics top and below) has got me fired up. You’re probably as tired as I am of “typing” in Wishlist title, YouTube search term, VOD keyword, WPA key, etc using a directional pad. So, I’m psyched to finally see mainstream manufacturer bringing a remote with full keyboard to market. It’s slated to debut with Vizio’s connected HDTV midyear.

We’ve also begun to see more remotes shipping with touchpads, which I’m not quite sold on for television control. The ZvBox remote features a full complement of keys in addition to a touchpad, as opposed to the new minimalistic DISH 922 DVR remote. To use this DISH solution, you’d drag your finger on the front and select by pulling a trigger on the back. Most of us probably don’t have the fine control to “point” with our thumb, so this compact remote actually requires two hands. Changing channels like this is way more cumbersome than hitting 2-5-2 without looking down, as I do when I flip to ESPN HD. I’m surprised to see them push the envelop so far, as the mainstream is going to have a hard time getting behind this. Should they simply add numeric and directional keys prior to launch, the touchpad becomes an option to use… when appropriate.

Speaking of touch sensitivity and two-handed control, I caught Logitech’s latest Harmony smart remote. The 1100 slab is a minor refresh of the 1000, and not something I’d ever use. I prefer the traditional remote form factor of the 880/890/One line, and there’s no word on when/if they’ll be seeing updates.

Neuros LINK Unboxed & Setup

Dave Zatz —  December 3, 2008

A loaner Neuros LINK ($300) arrived earlier today, and for once I forgive the UPS guy for not hiking up four flights of stairs to make a delivery… The unit is essentially a full-on computer, with the total kit weighing in at about 15lbs.

During the early phase of alpha testing, the Ubuntu Linux system is booting off a 4GB USB stick. The primary function of Neuros LINK is to organize and access web-based video, such as Hulu or Amazon OnDemand. And similar to ZvBox, the main launchpad is essentially a Firefox web browser. While Zv provides a customized build, the Neuros LINK interface is the standard browser running in full screen mode displaying Neuros’ customized site/experience. I haven’t found or tested the browsing functionality yet, but the automatic word complete suggestions via the web search feature is quite nice. I had no problems locating Hulu content and playing it back full screen – both audio and video passed fine from PC to HDTV over HDMI. When not streaming from the web, Linux media center software MythTV is also installed (!) for local and network media playback. I’ll be looking at this unit for a few weeks and providing feedback to the Neuros team, so it’s safe to assume I’ll have more to blog as well. Stay tuned.

11 pictures follow: Continue Reading…

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 »

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.