iPhone: The Ultimate Home Theater Interface

April 14, 2009

Savant iPhone AppI was careful not to use the word remote, or controller in the title because I think those words pigeonhole the iPhone into an unfair category. Love it or hate it, Apple’s little color, touch-screen remote, er iPhone has shaken up consumer electronics world and I for one continue to be impressed. Pandora’s iPhone app for example is a study in simplicity and perfection, pop in some headphones (or headphone out to speakers) and enjoy the same Pandora functionality as you would on your PC. By the way, if you haven’t discovered Pandora yet don’t blame me for the hours of your life about to be lost thumbing new music up or down.

Ok Pandora isn’t a “home theater” app per say but there are plenty of those as well. One of the biggest to hit the market, at least in custom installation circles is Crestron’s Control App for the iPhone. This application expands system control to literally every room in the house and beyond. Not to be outdone, Control4 launched their iPhone/Touch app last fall and in typical Control4 fashion allows for full system control including lighting, A/V, heating and air, internet radio and access control from any room in the house.

If a full-blown home automation system isn’t your bag, there are plenty of other ways to integrate the iPhone into your home entertainment system. Starting with Apple’s own “Remote” app, you have a perfect example of how the iPhone has changed the home entertainment landscape. Don’t have the budget for a Sonos or Sooloos system? No worries, just download “Remote”, install iTunes on your HTPC (or move your Mac mini into the living room as I did), and voila you’ve got an instant mp3 music server with full cover-art and customizable playlists.

Other applications such as Intelliremote give you full-fledged Windows Media Center functionality including keyboard and mouse control. For those of you using the popular media center alternative XBMC there are actually two apps. First is the cleverly titled XBMC Remote followed by the XMote, described as a “Native iPhone WiFi Remote for XBMC. Use your iPhone/iPod Touch as a replacement remote control for Xbox Media Center running on Windows, Mac, Linux or the original Xbox.”

As you can see they’re plenty of platform and or application specific home theater apps available for the iPhone/Touch, but what if you just wanted to know what’s on later this evening without interrupting the current program? Fire up i.TV for the latest television listings; heck you can even manage your Netflix account while you’re at it. Sure battery life and screen time-outs conspire against the iPhone as the perfect home theater controller but short of a $10k Crestron system or similar, its pros outnumber its cons by a wide margin. Who knows, perhaps future revisions will address the few last little hiccups we’re dealing with now, in my case happily dealing with.



Posted by Bryan Greenway | | Filed Under Home Theater Equipment, Universal Remotes


Comments

  • smith

    The iPod touch has always been an amazing iPod. And with its groundbreaking technologies–including a Multi-Touch screen, the accelerometer, and 3D graphics–and access to hundreds of games

  • smith

    The iPod touch has always been an amazing iPod. And with its groundbreaking technologies–including a Multi-Touch screen, the accelerometer, and 3D graphics–and access to hundreds of games

  • B.Greenway

    Thanks Rio, I’m just as quick to knock Apple as I am to praise them but they obviously got it right with the iPhone.

  • B.Greenway

    Thanks Rio, I’m just as quick to knock Apple as I am to praise them but they obviously got it right with the iPhone.

  • RIO Sound & Vision

    Nice post. This definitely something we would like to promote to our customers as there is an increasing number who have iPhones.

  • RIO Sound & Vision

    Nice post. This definitely something we would like to promote to our customers as there is an increasing number who have iPhones.

  • B.Greenway

    Of course but I cant:

    1, play Team fortress 2
    2, play Left for dead
    3, run miro
    4, record HD from my cable box
    5, play Blu-ray w/o ripping
    6, play HD DVD w/o ripping
    7, play DVD’s.. w/o ripping
    8, I could go on for days

    On a Popcorn Hour.

    But sure things like popcorn hour, appletv, etc. etc. have their place but none of them (thus far) offer all the functionality of a PC and I doubt they ever will.

  • B.Greenway

    Of course but I cant:

    1, play Team fortress 2
    2, play Left for dead
    3, run miro
    4, record HD from my cable box
    5, play Blu-ray w/o ripping
    6, play HD DVD w/o ripping
    7, play DVD’s.. w/o ripping
    8, I could go on for days

    On a Popcorn Hour.

    But sure things like popcorn hour, appletv, etc. etc. have their place but none of them (thus far) offer all the functionality of a PC and I doubt they ever will.

  • Gary

    HTPC is so last century, everyone’s moving to things like Popcorn Hour.

  • Gary

    HTPC is so last century, everyone’s moving to things like Popcorn Hour.

  • B.Greenway

    B Smith, yeah I mean we all have our phones with us pretty much all the time, why not leverage that?

    Mellowware, my pleasure, it’s a great app.

  • B.Greenway

    B Smith, yeah I mean we all have our phones with us pretty much all the time, why not leverage that?

    Mellowware, my pleasure, it’s a great app.

  • Thanks for mentioning Intelliremote. If you have a GlobalCache or USB-UIRT you can control your home theatre TV, Receiver etc from it too. Even script control of multiple devices at once from a single click on your iPhone. Maybe even set your X10 mood lighting before watching a movie!

    http://www.intelliremote.com

  • Thanks for mentioning Intelliremote. If you have a GlobalCache or USB-UIRT you can control your home theatre TV, Receiver etc from it too. Even script control of multiple devices at once from a single click on your iPhone. Maybe even set your X10 mood lighting before watching a movie!

    http://www.intelliremote.com

  • B Smith

    I have a Control4 system and us their app on an iTouch. It’s great to use in and around the house since it’s very portable and allows full control of my systems (lights, HVAC, video, music, etc). Far better than having the small touchscreens floating around.

  • B Smith

    I have a Control4 system and us their app on an iTouch. It’s great to use in and around the house since it’s very portable and allows full control of my systems (lights, HVAC, video, music, etc). Far better than having the small touchscreens floating around.

  • B.Greenway

    Dealers may charge a fee for the Crestron app but it would still cost quite a bit less than any other comparable Crestron controller.

  • B.Greenway

    Dealers may charge a fee for the Crestron app but it would still cost quite a bit less than any other comparable Crestron controller.

  • Good post. The Crestron app is cool, but they are going to charge (probably a lot, Lutron charges $100 for theirs, a figure that’s virtually unheard of in the app store) for the version that allows complete control of a/v components, etc.

  • Good post. The Crestron app is cool, but they are going to charge (probably a lot, Lutron charges $100 for theirs, a figure that’s virtually unheard of in the app store) for the version that allows complete control of a/v components, etc.