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Advice on Remote Controlling Home Media Setup

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  • Digital TV
  • Home Theatre
Last response: in Home Theatre
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July 28, 2011 5:20:49 AM

Hi guys, Need some advice on remote controlling my home media setup. I will basically be using my connected Windows PC (maybe Linux) most of the time, and viewing my basic cable channels only sometimes (don't mind using TV remote for this part). What I'm shooting for is flexibility - might be using NetFlix, XBMC, VLC, or even browsing etc at any given time, hence the below requirements:

MUST-HAVE
Wiimote-like remote that lets me move the mouse cursor as I point at the screen, and click mouse buttons as I press remote buttons. MUST be fairly accurate (similar to native Wii accuracy), and MUST be convenient and pleasant to use - NO BS such as re-callibrating, or having to push 10 buttons everytime I want to use the remote as a mouse.

BIG Nice-to-haves
Being able to control the TV's (not the PC's) volume through said remote
Being able to power off the TV through said remote
Required software works on _both_ Windows and Linux

Other Nice-to-haves
Ability to program any TV function to said remote's buttons

Background
I don't have a Wii.
I'm a software engineer, so shy of having to solder stuff, I'm not afraid of hacking something together at all. That said, my main goal here is not to "hack together something cool", but rather to have the best and most reliable final solution, and I don't mind spending some money to achieve that.

So based on my quick research it seems that:
1) I could get the Air Fly Mouse (Has built in keyboard too!) ($50)
2) I could get the Logitech Cordless Air Mouse (~ $140)
3) I could hack something together with a Wiimote and a USB sensor bar (< $50)

Further research shows that I can control my LG TV through its serial port - that'll take care of my nice-to-haves - sweet!

Right now I'm leaning towards the "Air Fly Mouse", as its not terribly expensive, its a prebuilt solution and has a keyboard! What would you recommend? Any products that I've missed?

More about : advice remote controlling home media setup

July 28, 2011 8:31:06 PM

Do you have an android device? I had a similar setup that I was able to use an android app on my cell phone (VCL remote, GMote, or Remote Desktop) to control the PC. It was very accurate for a WiFi solution and b/c android is based on the Linux kernel it works well for both. They are working on some options (see RedEye) for an IR blaster option for android but for now I think it only exists as an iOS option.

As a side note, does the Windows PC run XP or 7? Are you dual-booting with XMBC?
July 28, 2011 8:47:23 PM

I actually do, and have tried RemoteDroid. Its an OK solution I guess, but here are the reasons I don't wanna use it long term:

- I think wii-like pointing is a superior user experience
- Girlfriend doesn't like using it
- Can't talk on the phone while using the remote
- Phone screen turns off and (worse) have to enter pincode sometimes. Don't wanna change these settings just so I can use the phone as a remote.
- Buying a separate dedicated Android device would solve some of the above points, but last I checked there are no used and functional Android phones out there for super cheap (< $50).

Also, I've tried Gmote before but it doesn't really let you control your mouse, and thats not flexible enough for me. Same probably goes for VLC remote, and I don't see how remote desktop will be different from RemoteDroid in this situation?
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July 29, 2011 1:03:49 AM

The Logitech MX Air is really nice and might do what you are looking for.
July 29, 2011 4:19:15 AM

Just bit the bullet and ordered one of those Fly-Air-Mouse-with-keyboard things. The integrated keyboard is just too tempting to skip, if it works well. Will try to keep this thread updated on how it works out
!