CES 2012 Week We’ve reviewed a number of gadgets, such as the Gear4 Unity Remote, that allow you to use an iOS device as a universal remote for your TV and other AV kit. iDevices don’t have IR transmitters built into them so the Unity and its rivals all have to encompass both an app and a separate piece of hardware that acts …
tis crap on Samsung's own phone
I recently bought a Galaxy Note and a Samsung TV - coincidence - and I thought I would give these apps a whirl. So badly written that they cannot cope with screen res changes. There is a separate app for galaxy Tab users and the question that begs to be answered is: why?
The underlying APIs and many other Android apps based on them cope fine with differing screen resolutions and yet a company as large as Samsung appears to have employed some intern on a summer programming project to do this as a proof-of-concept rather then a real app. Shame.
So it gets a 10% from me.
5/10 on Android (dunno about iOS)
Auto-detection is _very_ hit and miss for me (despite the fact that it always has the same ip address) and the remote is for a slightly lower spec TV, so misses a couple of nice features.
The latter issue isn't so bad, but a remote is worse than useless if it may, or may not, be able to use it. You should be able to manually input an IP address, or save the configuration between sessions.
Sony one is similar but...
None of them have yet abstracted at the right level. We will have really got there when the content browsing is all done on the phone/tablet until you have selected what to watch next. Also the settings should be changed on the phone/tablet with instant effect on the picture but without any UI on the TV.
The current apps are just moving the existing buttons to the phone and adding support for easier text entry. What is really needed is to move the whole UI to the companion device. All the connected TVs have so far got this wrong although they are creeping in the right direction very slowly.
There are plenty of DLNA apps on the Apple store that allow you to stream content from a PC to your phone. They also work quite well to 'forward' the content *to* your DLNA TV.
I use it to screw with the missus when she's watching Eastenders. Well... not very often cos she gets quite cross :)
TVs need to be bluetooth enabled
Think of the possibilities if TVs and other devices were bluetooth enabled.
Your phone could pair with the TV (and sat box etc), asking each paired device for a list of its functions, its layout and become a perfectly functional remote. You wouldn't need a Samsung app, or some crappy IR dongle / remote for a smart phone. One app could multiple devices through a standards based mechanism.
More advanced behaviour could also be envisaged, e.g. your TV tells your phone what channel it's on, what's playing, the EPG data for the show, allows you to set reminders, allows you to listen to audio through headphones and so on without disrupting what you're seeing on screen.
It beggars belief there is no industry push for this sort of stuff. Even devices such as the PS3, where one would assume a firmware update could enable this kind of thing doesn't do it. The bluetooth remote for the PS3 demonstrates is so damned useful so I don't get it. Maybe it's cost, but then again if a device packs in wifi then chances are the chip also does bluetooth too, and increasingly mid / high range TVs and other kit are packing in wifi.
An app for multiple devices already exists
There is already an app out there that can control devices from different manufacturers, DemoControl. It allows you to setup whatever commands you like to be sent over TCP\IP and with additional interface hardware can control devices over RS-232 and IR as well (if they don't have TCP\IP control). Currently part way through setting it up, but it controls my Virgin TiVo and Denon amp quite happily over TCP\IP, including commands that aren't available on the standard remote.
The interface is fully configureable using free PC software and supports advanced functionality such as status flags and two-way communication.
I've found this pretty woeful on the iphone. My TV (D8000) is wired to the network, and it's very hit or miss as to whether the app will "find" it, even after a minute or two. Not worth the effort tbh.
(Now, if they brought the screen sharing stuff to iOS, I'd be very happy!)
Android App of the week?
I have not had any problems with the tab version on a Galaxy S wifi 5.0 that came 'free' with my D8000 TV. The only annoying thing is that I have to use the normal remote to turn the TV on as that uses IR.
No PVR Support!
Sadly, this falls way short, as the most obvious use - being able to properly control your Samsung PVR - is not catered for. As they insist on using slightly odd IR codes, an app seems a wonderful solution to being able to set up recordings, browse your library, play back and view the programme guide.
But... no, that's not suppported. You're restricted to 'dumb tv' controls, channel up, channel down and so on.
it promises so much and utterly fails to deliver.
The Android version works really well on my Galaxy Tab (original). Using the Smart Hub feature on the Bluray player is made much easier when you can use the tablet without reference to what's being displayed on the TV.
Being able to search YouTube for music and start playing it while in the other room is great, and text entry is so much easier than using the IR remote.
I just wish it was possible to remotely turn on the TV and Bluray player, but I guess you can't have everything.
Unonoficial WP7 one as well
I found a WP7 "unofficial" remote as well - compared it tothe official one I downloaded on the missuses HTC desire and both work well.......Just wish Samsung had a better text input method for their apps and browser....why they can't support wireless keyboards I'll never know.
Full Size keyboard
Why on earth doesn't this app let you use the android keyboard when using apps? Considering they expect people to use twitter and Facebook on the Smart TV. Having to use the numbers 2-9 to represent the alphabet is just tedious. Especially considering that the app could have integrated the Android keyboard rather than slavishly replicating the standard remote.