I have two young boys. The youngest (not quite 2) loves the DVD player. He is a master of swapping disks in and out… a little too frequently. He also loves fiddling with the amplifier controls – like the power button. Makes any TV watching experiences, err, interesting.
So I wanted to close off the DVD, amplifier, Foxtel etc. The WD TV Live looks like a nice solution to load up DVDs onto to play (no more requirement to insert DVDs to play them). (Two guys at work have the WD TV device and love it.) But if you completely close off the front, the remotes won’t work – no way to get IR to devices!
Then I started noticing a few posts on using an iPhone via WiFi to control home theatre devices. WiFi does not require line of site, so I would be able to completely block off the front of the equipment. Here are some interesting pages I have come across.
- Apple have a remote application, but its designed to control other Mac devices. E.g. control iTunes on a desktop, or an Apple TV device. Interesting, but I want something that can control non-Apple devices (like the Foxtel IQ).
- Mr Obsession talks about Remote Buddy, but again seems to be talking about remote control of a Mac.
- RedEye (review) is more what I am after. WiFi communication to an IR transmitter.
- iRed2 is another product. It talks about a Mac controlling your AV equipment (via IR), but also has devices you can plug into a LAN to generate IR signals. So this does look like another option.
- Global Cache Home Network Adapter looks like a device more for custom solutions. It can generate IR signals from a LAN, but does not seem to come bundled with iPhone control software like the RedEye and iRed2. Also a bit more expensive.
- WiFi Remote is another iPhone application for controlling a Windows box or a Mac. I think its geared to controlling Windows Media Player or iTunes remotely, via WiFi. Does not solve my problem of controlling a DVD player, amplifier, foxtel etc.
- Mr Obsession again, talking about using a Mac mini as a media centre for watching videos etc, then with iPhone to remotely control the Mac.
- This article however talks about how the mac mini has an IR port, but its not ideal – so here is how to open up your Mac and put a new device in its place (!).
- This Mr Obsession article was almost interesting, until I realized he was basically watching TV on Macs everywhere (not dealing with integrating multiple devices like DVD players etc)
- Crestron looks like a higher end solution. Feels like a product range for home theatre installers rather than end users (like me!). I assume more expensive as well.
What I think my utopia would be is actually to have all the signal generating equipment (DVD, Foxtel, etc) centralized, with amplifiers, TV etc at viewing points. Then have the signal digitized and so redirectable to each location over a computer network. The network can then be used for both AV distribution and computer intercommunication. HDTV needs a fairly high bandwidth network (not current WiFi speeds!) – gigabit networking should be enough I think (100mbs is probably not enough?).