Aug 8th 2013
Know How... 55
Make Your Phone Into a Universal Remote
Get rid of your physical remotes and control everything with your phone or tablet. See all your options in this episode!
Records live every Thursday at 2:00pm Eastern / 11:00am Pacific / 18:00 UTC.
Guests: Iyaz AkhtarToday, we’re going to use our smart phone or tablet to control our home theater. This is a project Iyaz was doing in his own home and he did plenty of research to find all the options.
Hardware-based optionThe Logitech Harmony Smart Control is a hardware-based solution that makes your smartphone or tablet into your home theater remote control. It costs about $130 retail and is a two part solution. One part is the hub, which sits at your home theater components. It connects to your home network and will send an IR signal to your home theater components when it is activated by its companion app. The second part is the free Harmony app that is available for iOS and Android. You install the application on your device and it finds your hub on the same network during the pairing process. The Logitech Harmony Smart Control also comes with a backup remote in case you want to go use physical buttons.
TroubleshootingIn our setup, we ran into some issues. To import our old Harmony remote settings, we had to set up a new “My Harmony” account for free and then import our older settings into the new account. The hub was also sending simultaneous signals to the television and our set top box (in this case, an Apple TV). To fix this, we had to recreate the “Watch Apple TV” activity we had set up. Don’t be afraid to reset your activities if you run into issues!
Apps for your componentsYour home theater components may have apps available to make your phone or tablet a remote. In Iyaz’s case, we found that his AVR, TV, and set top boxes (an Apple TV and a Roku) all had applications available for his devices. If your theater component has an Internet connection, there’s a good chance it has an app. Do a quick search in either the Play Store or Apple’s App Store to see if there is a companion app for you. In our experience, the apps weren’t the most polished, but work in a pinch. The downside is that you’ll have to switch apps as you would physical remotes when you want to control different parts of your home theater. Here are the apps Iyaz showed off or mentioned:
- Denon Remote: iOS | Android
- Samsung SmartView: iOS | Android
- Apple TV: iOS
- Roku Remote: iOS| Android