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post #1 of 38 Old 12-01-2008, 03:31 AM - Thread Starter
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Hey guys, I had an interesting idea the other day, and I was hoping to get some input on it. I was thinking about creating my own touch screen remote control that connects to my HTPC, and I came up with a few ideas about how I could do it. But first, my intentions for the device...

Ideally...

1) The remote will have a rechargeable battery. This would eliminate the need to have a power cord of any kind coming from it.

2) The remote will connect to the PC through some sort of wireless technology, most likely a wireless USB solution. This may cause a few problems, but more on that later.

3) The remote will feature a touch screen with a high enough resolution to show a text list of songs, videos, etc that is easily readable and would allow one to select the desired track/video directly on the device. Considering resolutions 800x480 and higher, although I'll say the bigger the better.

4) The screen will be somewhere between 7" and 10", as anything smaller will most likely not have a large enough resolution and anything larger would just be plain silly for a remote control.

5) The device will look sharp, hopefully something glossy black if all goes well. Nomatter what solution I used, I'm pretty sure I could make this happen by simply painting the finished product, but would, of course, just prefer for it to be like this without me having to get the paint out.

6) The project will cost something like $300 maximum, or less if possible. This point isn't terribly important, as I would be willing to spend more if I felt the return would be great enough, but it seems like a decent place to draw the line.

WELL! anyway, after all that, I have been thinking of a few solutions that could satisfy most of these points, and some products that might assist me along the way.

1) http://www.nanovision.co.kr/eng/pro/pro02.asp - 7 inch secondary monitor, UM-740 model featuring a touch screen. This has been my favorite solution so far. 800x480 resolution is tolerable. It costs $190 for the touch screen model, leaving plenty of headroom on the price, plus, it looks great in red and black. BUT: The unit is powered over USB. This eliminates the possibility of using wireless USB to send info to it, as the monitor would be trying to draw power from it. The monitor also has some sort of connector for power on it, if I understand correctly, although it does not come with any kind of power adapter. putting my own rechargeable battery on it or keeping it plugged in might be viable options, if i could find the correct adapter to power it in this way.

2) http://www.samsung.com/us/consumer/d...=LP10CBMSBT/ZA - 10 inch digital photo frame that features a rechargeable battery and connects via USB to act as a secondary monitor. It's got everything, right? Wrong. The unit lacks a touch screen. Having to add touch functionality would make this a hellishly complicated project, unfortunately. At least it looks pretty sharp, and runs about $200. The massive 1024x600 Resolution makes it even harder to say I can't use this, unless someone can figure out a decent solution to the lack of touch interface on this otherwise perfect device.

3) Something a little less elegant... Using a netbook. Was thinking about picking up something like an Aspire One (have seen some for around $250) and using Windows Remote Desktop Connection to connect to the HTPC, then just playing music/video like that. Pretty sure there's a lot of holes in my logic here, like trying to log onto the same windows account both locally and remotely, having to deal with whatever crazy lag I would get from going over my network like that, and not to mention ditching the entire touch interface idea. Obviously, not my favorite solution.

4) Using something like a touchscreen car stereo, I could build an enclosure for it. I already have an unused head unit that has a few video inputs. This would be the least portable of the solutions, as it would require power and a direct connection to the HTPC >_> Whoop de doo.

http://www.tigerdirect.com/applicati...1658&CatId=944 - The wireless USB idea. Come to think of it, if you attached the USB to the remote, would it try to draw power from the wireless USB device, or supply it? For the first solution, the unit usually draws power through usb, so i don't think it's a viable option in that situation.

Well, that't that. Tell me what you guys think, if you have a better solution or an interesting suggestion, I would love to hear it!
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post #2 of 38 Old 12-01-2008, 07:48 AM
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i don't think there is anything you can get for that kind of money. all of the touch screen devices are significantly more expensive and not portable. you may be able to find an old air board monitor but that's about all I can think of. I am currently using a 15" touch screen connected directly to the PC. portability is nice to have but rated lower on my list.

Itai

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post #3 of 38 Old 12-01-2008, 09:21 AM
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How about a tablet PC?
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post #4 of 38 Old 12-01-2008, 10:18 AM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for the response, but I'm fairly sure it can be done. But again, if the price goes over, it's not that big of a deal. It just seems like one feature is missing from each of the things i was thinking about using.
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post #5 of 38 Old 12-01-2008, 10:20 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by perpetual98 View Post

How about a tablet PC?

As for the Tablet PC idea, it's not terrible. If you're talking about something like those convertible laptops, that's not bad, but then again, it's awfully expensive, assumes that remote desktop connection allows me to control the HTPC on the same account that the HTPC is also logged on to... well, same problems as a netbook really.
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post #6 of 38 Old 12-01-2008, 10:47 AM
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You're going to have to sacrifice one of the following requirements: cost, wireless or big high resolution screen. Here are some examples I've seen that allow people to have a touchscreen interface:

1) Wired touchscreen monitor. Your wireless requirement goes away.

2) PDA + Girder + NetRemote. Your 7" - 10" screen goes away.

3) Nokia Internet Tablet + CQC. Expensive due to the cost of CQC. You use remote desktop connection, on the tablet, to log into a dedicated "user interface" user on your server or htpc. Note, there is a way to hack windows xp to allow multiple concurrent remote desktop sessions (I've done this to my htpc. it's how I log in to do maintenance and what not).

4) Samsung Q1 + CQC. Very expensive due to cost of CQC and Q1. Like option 3 but you don't have to use remote desktop. The UI runs on the Q1.

I'm sure there is also a solution using the Main Lobby software suite, I'm just not as familiar with that line. Cost of the software will be a factor here as well.
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post #7 of 38 Old 12-01-2008, 11:44 AM
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you mentioned a price of around $250 for a netbook. If cost is not an issue, what about the HP convertible laptop. you can find it for about $800 and it has a 12" screen. The reason all of the devices are missing some functions you want is because most manufacturers don't see this as a real market. the Q1 is nice but again, as others have mentioned its expensive.

if you find a combination that works, let us know... it sounds great.

Itai

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post #8 of 38 Old 12-01-2008, 12:09 PM
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Having the monitor powered by USB isn't a bad thing at all. Your battery back would just have to power the wireless USB hub (which is probably ~5V if I had to guess). If it were strong enough it would provide power to your monitor. If the hub can't provide enough power for the monitor, then you could probably power it directly form the battery by hacking the cable. You really need to find out how much power the 7" monitor dissipates to know if this would be feasible...

Neat idea though!

-Izrun
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post #9 of 38 Old 12-01-2008, 12:47 PM
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I think this is what cubesys was referring to, but I'll post this anyway. You can usually pick up a Viewsonic Airpanel on ebay for pretty cheap (less than $150). These are 10" (15" is also available) remote desktop driven CE devices. I'm currently expirementing with these devices for a couple projects (kitchen PC, and a htpc "remote" of sorts). They satisfy all your requirements with the exception of "looking sharp".

Also, when looking at tablet PCs and similar, make sure they have a touchscreen and not just a digitizer (requires the stylus).

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post #10 of 38 Old 12-01-2008, 01:26 PM
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Adesio: thought you would like to see this (if you haven't already). I like this idea alot!

http://www.slashgear.com/nanovision-...eview-2123771/

http://www.thegadgeteers.com/
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post #11 of 38 Old 12-01-2008, 02:33 PM
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Why not try using an iphone/bb storm as the screen and somehow hack it to install your own ui on it that can connect to whatever you would like

Benefits to this - Already has a rechargeable battery, wifi connectivity, not a 10" inch screen like you would like, but clear enough to be able to see text/pictures

Im pretty sure you can find an iphone/storm that isnt over $200
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post #12 of 38 Old 12-01-2008, 03:14 PM
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The iPhone/Storm idea makes me wonder if there is anything like this for something like the iPaq 210. I think it has a fairly high resolution screen and it is 4" vs the phones 3.5"(every little bit helps, right?), and could probably stream most things with it. Something else to look into I guess?
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post #13 of 38 Old 12-01-2008, 09:19 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mslide View Post

You're going to have to sacrifice one of the following requirements: cost, wireless or big high resolution screen. Here are some examples I've seen that allow people to have a touchscreen interface:

1) Wired touchscreen monitor. Your wireless requirement goes away.

2) PDA + Girder + NetRemote. Your 7" - 10" screen goes away.

3) Nokia Internet Tablet + CQC. Expensive due to the cost of CQC. You use remote desktop connection, on the tablet, to log into a dedicated "user interface" user on your server or htpc. Note, there is a way to hack windows xp to allow multiple concurrent remote desktop sessions (I've done this to my htpc. it's how I log in to do maintenance and what not).

4) Samsung Q1 + CQC. Very expensive due to cost of CQC and Q1. Like option 3 but you don't have to use remote desktop. The UI runs on the Q1.

I'm sure there is also a solution using the Main Lobby software suite, I'm just not as familiar with that line. Cost of the software will be a factor here as well.

Thanks a ton for the detailed response and other ideas, i really appreciate it!
Here's what I'm thinking, just off the top of my head here.

1) This is the simplest resolution by far. My first option would become the reality by simply running a USB cord across the room with that MIMO monitor, but since the entire idea is simply revolving around extravagance in the first place, I'll keep looking for other ideas that are as close to the ideal as possible.

2) I hadn't thought of using a PDA, and the Netremote software looks pretty good, and for $30, not a bad deal. I will have to do some more research about this idea.

3/4) The recurring cost of CQC makes it a bit unappealing, and I'm not really seeing a lot of information about the program here. I can assume due to the cost that it is fantastic software and will do exactly what I want it to. Also, I've been a fan of the Q1 for a while now, and will consider this option. The Nokia internet tablet intrigued me, I haven't really seen any of them before, but would CQC run directly on the device or inside a web browser?
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post #14 of 38 Old 12-01-2008, 09:21 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cubesys View Post

you mentioned a price of around $250 for a netbook. If cost is not an issue, what about the HP convertible laptop. you can find it for about $800 and it has a 12" screen. The reason all of the devices are missing some functions you want is because most manufacturers don't see this as a real market. the Q1 is nice but again, as others have mentioned its expensive.

if you find a combination that works, let us know... it sounds great.

Thanks a ton cubesys. I have also thought about using a convertible laptop, and like the other poster above, using a Samsung Q1 would be pretty sweet too. I want to try to avoid using remote desktop connection if possible, and using a convertible laptop may turn out to be a bit bulky, but I'll consider it.

I'll be glad to keep you guys updated on what I end up doing, I'm really excited about this project!
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post #15 of 38 Old 12-01-2008, 09:26 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Izrun View Post

Having the monitor powered by USB isn't a bad thing at all. Your battery back would just have to power the wireless USB hub (which is probably ~5V if I had to guess). If it were strong enough it would provide power to your monitor. If the hub can't provide enough power for the monitor, then you could probably power it directly form the battery by hacking the cable. You really need to find out how much power the 7" monitor dissipates to know if this would be feasible...

Neat idea though!

Wow, this really opens up some interesting possibilities here!

I didn't know that the hub was powered on its on, have you seen one with a rechargeable battery, or even replaceable? I was under the impression that the hub itself would still have a power cable coming out of it wherever you placed it in the room, BUT if it has it's own battery, I wouldn't mind that idea at all! I'll do some research myself, but have you found a wireless usb hub that has its own battery?
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post #16 of 38 Old 12-01-2008, 09:32 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by jstabb View Post

I think this is what cubesys was referring to, but I'll post this anyway. You can usually pick up a Viewsonic Airpanel on ebay for pretty cheap (less than $150). These are 10" (15" is also available) remote desktop driven CE devices. I'm currently expirementing with these devices for a couple projects (kitchen PC, and a htpc "remote" of sorts). They satisfy all your requirements with the exception of "looking sharp".

Also, when looking at tablet PCs and similar, make sure they have a touchscreen and not just a digitizer (requires the stylus).

Thanks a ton for the suggestion. Looking at the Airpanel, I was surprised at all the features it had for that small amount of money. I just have to ask... Is it of good construction? From my experience with viewsonic, I was never dazzled with the products, but i never encountered a terrible project either. I would most likely opt for the 10" version. I'll definitely look into this option.

I think with a little work, I could turn the device into a glossy black fingerprint magnet in no time!
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post #17 of 38 Old 12-01-2008, 09:33 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by simpleway View Post

Adesio: thought you would like to see this (if you haven't already). I like this idea alot!

http://www.slashgear.com/nanovision-...eview-2123771/

http://www.thegadgeteers.com/

Yep, after getting what little information i could about the Nanovision monitor, I came across those sites =) Thanks for the help!
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post #18 of 38 Old 12-01-2008, 09:37 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by slowrolla View Post

Why not try using an iphone/bb storm as the screen and somehow hack it to install your own ui on it that can connect to whatever you would like

Benefits to this - Already has a rechargeable battery, wifi connectivity, not a 10" inch screen like you would like, but clear enough to be able to see text/pictures

Im pretty sure you can find an iphone/storm that isnt over $200

Not a bad idea, and this has been suggested by a couple of friends. I think it would be great to use an iphone or storm, and i might be willing to sacrifice screen size for what may turn out to be a rather elegant solution =)
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post #19 of 38 Old 12-02-2008, 06:54 AM
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Hi adesio,
Very interesting idea you have here, so I went on a little hunt and found this:

http://melloware.com/products/intelliphone/

This is a native iPhone/iTouch app that allows you to control your HTPC via the network. Would save you a Ton and alot of engineering headaches. Think I might do this my self. Let me know what you think.
Cheers,
Jiff.


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post #20 of 38 Old 12-02-2008, 07:59 AM
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the reason the airpanel is so cheap is because its a dead product (what a shame), you will have no support and no way to really fix any problems.

The original poster wanted a larger screen then a phone (ipod/storm). Personally, I am migrating my system from a large fixed touch screen to an ipod touch.

The work has already begun mainly because I don't see anything on the market that I really like.

I love how this area is evolving...

Itai

Did I mention we are flat to 11?
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post #21 of 38 Old 12-02-2008, 08:11 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by adesio View Post

3/4) The recurring cost of CQC makes it a bit unappealing, and I'm not really seeing a lot of information about the program here. I can assume due to the cost that it is fantastic software and will do exactly what I want it to. Also, I've been a fan of the Q1 for a while now, and will consider this option. The Nokia internet tablet intrigued me, I haven't really seen any of them before, but would CQC run directly on the device or inside a web browser?

Yeah, I know it's an expensive solution but the folks who go this route really go all out with home automation and they can justify the high cost. Just wanted to throw out any suggestions I could think of. Regarding the Nokia tablet and CQC, no the interface does not run natively on the tablet. You must use Remote Desktop Connection to log into another server (can be the htpc itself or a dedicated "UI Server") that runs the UI. I personally don't like this because RDP sessions time out after a while, so almost anytime you want to use the thing, you have to reconnect. Lots of people have requested that the developer port the UI program over to linux, so it can run natively on the tablet, but the developer said that isn't an option. Not many people here use CQC. They have their own forums that are very active if you're interested (google CQC or "Charmed Quark").

I like the iPhone / iPod Touch idea. I might look into that myself. I personally think sacrificing screen size is worth it if going this route, especially if you could make use of some of the native iPhone interfaces (like swiping your finger across the screen to browse through music).
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post #22 of 38 Old 12-02-2008, 08:26 AM
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the remote I am working on will use the full functions of the ipod including the wipe and the accelerometers. I am willing to forgo the spacious 15" screen in my case for the convenience and added functionality such as portability and better interactivity.

I wish more companies would have made just a tablet without the keyboard but I guess I am in the minority.

I don't mean to hijack this thread. the $200 usb based monitor is very cute and reasonably priced.

Itai

Did I mention we are flat to 11?
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post #23 of 38 Old 12-02-2008, 08:31 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by adesio View Post

Wow, this really opens up some interesting possibilities here!

I didn't know that the hub was powered on its on, have you seen one with a rechargeable battery, or even replaceable? I was under the impression that the hub itself would still have a power cable coming out of it wherever you placed it in the room, BUT if it has it's own battery, I wouldn't mind that idea at all! I'll do some research myself, but have you found a wireless usb hub that has its own battery?

The hub requires an AC adapter, but it is a 5V adapter. You could use batteries in it's place. USB is required to supply a certain amount of power, and I'm sure this device is no different.

-Izrun
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post #24 of 38 Old 12-02-2008, 02:17 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Xilpaxim View Post

The iPhone/Storm idea makes me wonder if there is anything like this for something like the iPaq 210. I think it has a fairly high resolution screen and it is 4" vs the phones 3.5"(every little bit helps, right?), and could probably stream most things with it. Something else to look into I guess?

I have an iPaq 210 that I'm experimenting with along with the Airpanel. It can be used as a remote desktop client (the same as the Airpanel) which allows running full desktop apps on it (in my case, a custom WPF interface). But someone could also write a Windows CE application for it. I haven't looked for any existing applications as I'm integrating this with a custom HTPC front-end.

The big selling point of the iPaq for me was the full VGA res screen, it has twice as many pixels as an iPhone/iPod Touch.

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post #25 of 38 Old 12-02-2008, 02:19 PM
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Originally Posted by adesio View Post

Thanks a ton for the suggestion. Looking at the Airpanel, I was surprised at all the features it had for that small amount of money. I just have to ask... Is it of good construction? From my experience with viewsonic, I was never dazzled with the products, but i never encountered a terrible project either. I would most likely opt for the 10" version. I'll definitely look into this option.

I think with a little work, I could turn the device into a glossy black fingerprint magnet in no time!

Construction is pretty middle of the road. Not great, not horrible either. Essentially... typical Viewsonic.

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post #26 of 38 Old 12-02-2008, 02:23 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JiffOrange View Post

Hi adesio,
Very interesting idea you have here, so I went on a little hunt and found this:

http://melloware.com/products/intelliphone/

This is a native iPhone/iTouch app that allows you to control your HTPC via the network. Would save you a Ton and alot of engineering headaches. Think I might do this my self. Let me know what you think.
Cheers,
Jiff.

I have this setup and love it. I can control up to 4 HTPCs. I had to update the profile for GBPVR but once I did, it was pretty awesome. Even got the wife's approval.
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post #27 of 38 Old 12-02-2008, 02:35 PM
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To bad there's not a better program for the Iphone/Touch than remote. I use it to control iTunes. I bet with a little work, an app could be written to do just this...
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post #28 of 38 Old 12-02-2008, 03:51 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by JiffOrange View Post

Hi adesio,
Very interesting idea you have here, so I went on a little hunt and found this:

http://melloware.com/products/intelliphone/

This is a native iPhone/iTouch app that allows you to control your HTPC via the network. Would save you a Ton and alot of engineering headaches. Think I might do this my self. Let me know what you think.
Cheers,
Jiff.

Thanks Jiff. I'm gonna borrow my friend's iphone and give this a go i think, and I'll report back on how well it works. I only got a chance to glance at it today, but it seems like a very intuitive program that anyone would be able to pick up and use, which would be great for applications i'm interested in. It's a busy week for me, but I'll get back to you asap about how the program works.
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post #29 of 38 Old 12-02-2008, 03:54 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by cubesys View Post

the reason the airpanel is so cheap is because its a dead product (what a shame), you will have no support and no way to really fix any problems.

The original poster wanted a larger screen then a phone (ipod/storm). Personally, I am migrating my system from a large fixed touch screen to an ipod touch.

The work has already begun mainly because I don't see anything on the market that I really like.

I love how this area is evolving...

I'm not too worried about lack of support for the airpanel, I think I am tech savvy enough to figure out most of what could go wrong there. For the price, I don't think anything else could come close in value that I have seen, and maybe with a little mod, it can look pretty nice too. I don't know if you noticed jiff's post above, but since you are migrating to an ipod touch, were you going to use that same software? just curious.
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post #30 of 38 Old 12-02-2008, 03:59 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by mslide View Post

Yeah, I know it's an expensive solution but the folks who go this route really go all out with home automation and they can justify the high cost. Just wanted to throw out any suggestions I could think of. Regarding the Nokia tablet and CQC, no the interface does not run natively on the tablet. You must use Remote Desktop Connection to log into another server (can be the htpc itself or a dedicated "UI Server") that runs the UI. I personally don't like this because RDP sessions time out after a while, so almost anytime you want to use the thing, you have to reconnect. Lots of people have requested that the developer port the UI program over to linux, so it can run natively on the tablet, but the developer said that isn't an option. Not many people here use CQC. They have their own forums that are very active if you're interested (google CQC or "Charmed Quark").

I like the iPhone / iPod Touch idea. I might look into that myself. I personally think sacrificing screen size is worth it if going this route, especially if you could make use of some of the native iPhone interfaces (like swiping your finger across the screen to browse through music).

I'm glad you mentioned the fact that the connection will time out after a while. Not a huge deal, but it does detract a little bit from the ability to just pick it up when i get home and start working with it. But again, I would probably have to fire up the HTPC anyway, so this isn't a huge deal. I did get a chance to take a look at the CQC forums, and it really is amazing what some people have done with it, but it might be something I would look into in a few years.
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