As our media centers grow in size and scale, so do our remotes. If you’re like us, remote controls and batteries clutter your media center, while turning the TV on with the speakers, cable box, and anything else means switching between any number of remotes.
While we can’t fix the clutter of thousands of useless channels, we can fix the clutter in your living room by buying a universal remote. Almost every year we test the latest and greatest Logitech Harmony universal remotes, any of which can fix the mess in today’s living rooms and entertainment centers. While Logitech does a phenomenal job, its universal remotes are also quite expensive and perhaps we can do a little better.
The iPhone, with its capacitive touch screen, makes for a perfect universal remote. It doesn’t need replacement batteries, it’s powerful enough to control any number of devices, and everyone knows how to use it. It thus comes as no surprise that a large number of companies have made hardware accessories for the iPhone to serve as a proper universal remote, ranging from $40-$70. All revolve around the same basic principle: pay a certain amount for the infrared iPhone’s 30-pin attachment, download the free app, and your phone is now ready to take over your media center. Several options include the Power A Universal Remote Case (opens in new tab) (iPhone 3GS and 3G only), the RE iPhone Universal Remote, and the L5 Universal Remote. Many options available work for both the iPhone and iPod Touch.
We also know that some of our more advanced users have a separate computer or media server connected to their TV, but controlling it with a wireless keyboard and mouse isn’t convenient. That’s why Logitech recently rolled out the TouchMouse app, which allows users to control any computer (with the proper software installed) through an iPhone or iPod Touch over a WiFi connection. TouchMouse even has a keyboard popup, so you can type away just like you would when writing a text message.