Home Theater Remote Control

Media Center Remotes

Alright, you got your Media center fully setup and automated with Usenet… but you don’t want to use the pesky keyboard and mouse to control it anymore.  Let’s talk home theater remote control!

Physical Remotes –

  • Logitech Harmony Universal Remote – These are the creme de la creme!  If you have one of these already, you know what I’m talking about.  These remotes can control your whole media center.  I mean everything from your TV, to your Satellite radio.  The great thing about using a Harmony remote with your Media center is that it has built in profiles for Plex, XMBC, and Boxee.  So it natively knows how to control these apps without a ton of setting up for you.  (Pro tip – if you decide to go with a Harmony, and have a PS3, you have to buy an

    • Apple Music Remote Control – Apple remotes are very small, and don’t have many buttons.  But the good news is they are pretty popular with Mac users, chances are if you have a Mac at home, you’ve got one of these remotes.  They don’t offer very many advanced features as far as remotes go, but they will get the job done if you just need basic functionality.

    • URC Remote – Although very plain, these remotes have alot of functionality.  Probably almost as much as the harmony remotes, without the pretty LCD screen and save you $50 or so.  Plex has a config file already made that will give you pretty good functionality here.  If you are on a budget, but want to get a good remote, check these guys out.

      • Logitech diNovo Mini – For those who want to take advantage of a full featured keyboard, but don’t a huge wireless keyboard, this is the solution for them.  These are well built, very sturdy and pretty darn cool.

      • Logitech Wireless Keyboard and Mouse – Sorry for all the Logitech love, they just make great products!  For those who are looking for a SOLID keyboard and mouse, this is a great product.  Very reliable and great on battery life, the Logitech Mk520 is a great setup for you.


      • Apple Wireless Keyboard & Apple Magic Mouse– For all the Apple product lovers (myself included) this is the way to go.  The keyboard is solid aluminum and is GREAT on battery life, everything you love about Apple is here with this setup.  The magic mouse is a very slick looking device, that is very functional.  For those with Mac Mini’s and want the cleanest looking media center, with full fledged keyboard and moues functionality; these should at least be considered.

     

    • Apple Magic Trackpad – I personally haven’t used a trackpad to control my media center, but there are reports of those out there who do, and it works!  This is a sharp looking aluminum product with all the multitouch gestures etc you come to expect from Apple.

    Software remotes –

    • If you are an Apple fanatic and have an iPhone or are looking to purchase a beautiful new iPad, you have some great options.  If you don’t want to invest in a Harmony remote, I would DEFINITELY suggest using an iDevice to control your media center, they just make it so easy to connect to your wireless network and control all functions of your media center.  If you are using Boxee there is an official Boxee remote app.  If you are Plex user, you have the official Plex app.  XBMC also has XBMC Commander (my personal favorite) amongst others.  Also, if you are going to use your media center for things other than just a home theater PC, you should grab Mobile Mouse and iTunes remote.
    • If you are an Android user, Plex has it’s own Android App that includes basic remote functionality, Boxee as of this post doesn’t have any available remote app unfortunately 🙁 . XBMC does have its own official XBMC remote here.
    • If you are looking to remotely control your Windows home theater PC I would suggest some flavor of VNC, such as RealVNC.  This is a simple server application you install on your Media center and then use the client to connect to it from other PC’s in your home via IP address or computer name.  It doesn’t give you any frills, but it’s very simple to use.  This is great for those of you who don’t have any wireless keyboard and mouse connected to your home theater PC so you can perform tasks like restarts, manually managing files, etc.
    • If you are looking for a solution to remotely manage your Mac HTPC from another Mac in your home, I’d suggest taking a look at Apple Remote Desktop.  OSX does have a function for built in screen sharing, which is simple to configure.  But it doesn’t give you much aside from screen sharing.  If you want to install a package from your bedroom while your family is watching a movie in the living room, you are out of luck until later when you can take over the screen.  With Apple remote desktop, you can install packages, wake your home theater Mac from sleep, search for files in the background, restart by just sending the command, etc.  There are tons of benefits to using ARD over screen sharing.  However if all you need is basic screen sharing or you need to control your Mac from a PC via some sort of VNC viewer, this is the way to go:
    1. Go into your System Preferences
    2. Check the Box for Screen sharing
    3. Add the account you want to be able to control the Mac remotely.

    Hopefully you have a better understand of what home theater remote controls are right for you. If you have any questions or comments please feel free to post below.

     

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