Do you use your smartphone or tablet to control A/V gear?

Until we’re able to use our minds to reliably control our A/V gear, most of us will continue to use a conventional remote handset to operate our equipment. But apps that that can turn a smartphone or tablet into a home theater remote control are becoming popular. Take a moment to respond to this week’s HT Poll and tell us how you control your gear stack. And if you use a remote control app, tell us what you like and don’t like about it in Comments.
Do you use your smartphone or tablet to control A/V gear?
Yes, for my TV only
1% (11 votes)
Yes, for a few A/V components
25% (207 votes)
Yes, for all of my A/V gear
10% (83 votes)
No, but I’m thinking about finding an app and checking it out
12% (102 votes)
No, I don’t see the point
13% (106 votes)
No, I love my pile of manufacturer-supplied remotes
11% (92 votes)
No, I love my programmable universal remote that controls all of my gear
28% (237 votes)
Total votes: 838

instybob's picture

Smartphones already do too much. What a pain to open an app just to flip the channel and have a call or text come in right when you're doing it.

I have the Directv app on our tablet and use that about 10% of the time for browsing and switching channels.

jnemesh's picture

I use the RTI control system to control my gear via my Android tablet and phone. I have an XP6 processor controlling everything. NO stupid IR attachment required(like in the picture above), it all works through the network. I have control of my Samsung plasma, PS3 (using an IR2BT adapter), Xbox 360, Marantz AVR (IP control), cable box, Lutron RadioRA2 lighting control, Calrad RGB LED lights (installed around the back of my TV for bias and accent lighting), and eventually, I will be replacing the crappy cable provided box with a Windows Media Center.

There really is not much I CANT control with my RTI processor and the right programming! Very happy with their product and the fact that they support both iOS AND Android!

HTM_cushman_23's picture

How about:
"No, tried it and found it was uselss"

mikerr's picture

I need to physically push a real button. Touching a glass screen makes it seem so impersonable. ....Like I'm distant from my System. ...hand me my remote

applebyter's picture

I agree with the "tried it and went back to a universal remote". I've tried a few smartphone/tablet remote apps. All have been awkward to set up and the screen is too bright when you want to use the remote in a dark theatre. I occassionally use my boxee remote on my phone or tablet, but only because the IR receiver is behind my screen and when I forget to grab the boxee remote. I also occassionally use my phone or tablet to control my Squeezeboxes, the phone and tablet remote is better when you want to browse for a while or if you want to hand it to someone else to select something to play. Otherwise my Harmony One still works more seamlessly and more comforably than any general smartphone/tablet remote system.

A decent smartphone's battery doesn't cope well with using it as a remote. After a day of usage there isn't enough charge left to then use it as a remote for a few hours in the evening.

dnoonie's picture

A simple remote on a smart phone is not very smart. Kind of obvious really.

I might use it if:

Context sensitive content would appear...for instance if I was listening to a piece of music I'd want the groups web site to come up on the smart phone screen with info about their latest albums, live concerts or customize music web site lists with info from the music group that i could click on as a link. Same with a DVD or video except I'd want to have links appear for IMDB, or whatever else web site I could customize to appear searchable by director, writer, actors, etc.

The smart phone screen would appear on my TV either as a PIP or full screen if i wanted it to. And the screen would "rotate" automatically when I rotate the phone.

The DVD menu could appear on the smart phone screen without having to leave a movie.

Special features about a movie scene could appear on the smart phone screen as you watch a movie keeping the movie screen uncluttered.

I could go on but I'm done for the evening. I think you get the idea...make it smart, not just a remote.

kevon27's picture

It's 2013 and IR is still the primary communication interface between a TV and a remote. Why? All consumer electronics should have gone IP control about 10 years ago.
Can you imaging a harmony remote with IP control (WIFI) having two way communication with your devices to check if the selected activity was completed correctly. No need to press a help button and answer questions: "is the TV on?"

I don't understand the consumer electronic industry. They make simple things complicated and make bad decisions on which technology to bring to market (HDMI, 3D, 4K).

Thxtheater2's picture

I've been a Harmony user for probably 7 years or so. I went from IR to RF units. The ability to have Crestron-like control is something I've really wanted but I didn't want to be held captive by a dealer if I needed to change things. Until this past year, the Harmony was really the only way to go until Roomie and iRule. These two products are head and shoulders above anything else out there for the prosumer/enthusiast market. I went with Roomie because I found the iRule interface to be overly tedious and cumbersome. In under 5 minutes I could do with Roomie what it would take hours to do in iRule.

Roomie natively supports IP-enabled devices, converts IP to IR, and it also supports serial connectivity for 2-way communication between devices. I've now retired all my Harmony remotes and use Roomie on multiple devices--a few iPhones and an iPad. Whatever activity I'm in synchronizes to all the other devices too. To people's complaints, you can separately auto-dim the Roomie app screen--from 10 seconds to over an hour. I can choose to have an incoming call on my phone auto-pause whatever activity I'm in or leave it alone, and I can even set the manual volume buttons on the iPhone/iPad to raise or lower the system volume if I'm in the app. Plus, I get integrated iTunes right on the remote to choose playlists, artists, songs, etc in addition to also getting an integrated TV Guide for programming.

There's no question that remotes on smart phones and tablets is the present--not the future. The reviews in HT Magazine thus far haven't done any justice to Roomie and iRule. The rest of the apps out there are for the birds as they only control one device at a time or require an external adapter. All of that is a pain. I'm totally sold on Roomie. I use it for my whole house and now I'm looking to add Roomie to control my home lighting and also my drapery.

It's super-fast, efficient, flexible, and future-proof and I'll never go back to a physical remote again!

bc70's picture

I use a tablet dedicated to controlling my home theater. Everything from the Byrston DAC/Muisc Player, Rotel etc to the lighting and thermostat. The tablet is dedicated to that room. I only use a smartphone in cases where I don't have that tablet and I need to turn on or off something or prepare for company (cooling the room down, setting lighting)

I wish they would stop using IR and use zigbee or RF so you don't have to keep everything within a unobstructed range for the IR. My equipment is in a closet and I like it that way. However I hate the propitiatory control/automation system that I can't work on myself. At least I can create apps of my own to control the Bryston equipment. I mostly listen to music anyway.

Brown Sound's picture

Use PlugPlayer only to control/listen to foobar2000 via UPnP controller. That's it.