Remote controlled HTPC for my wife - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 38 Old 09-05-2013, 03:35 AM - Thread Starter
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I'm going to buy a PC and connect it to a HDTV set via HDMI cable. I want to play multiple avi files or ripped DVDs from a hard drive. Is there a way to do that by using a remote control?

Reason is that my wife is not a computer person so does not want to use a keyboard and mouse to start playback or to pause playback. She's a TV person so she knows how to play and pause videos from a DVR using a remote control. I want to set things up so she can play, pause, fast forward/reverse videos on the PC's hard drive by using a remote control.

What's the easiest way to do that?

PS: I'm thinking of buying a Dell Inspiron 660s that has an i3 CPU, 4GB of ram, a 1 TB hard drive running Windows 8. The hard drive that contains the video files is on my tower i5 PC so playback will be via ethernet cable through a router.
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post #2 of 38 Old 09-05-2013, 04:42 AM
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If all you're looking for is a video player there are multiple options.
I nice interface to play your movies would be XBMC (free to download from http://xbmc.org/download/) but you'd need to get a remote and IR receiver to connect to the computer so your partner can control the menu.
Anything MCE compatible will most likely do (http://wiki.xbmc.org/index.php?title=Remote_controls) for your needs.

Something like this:
http://www.ebay.com/itm/Microsoft-Remote-MCE-Remote-Microsoft-Branded-/161097106262?pt=US_Remote_Controls_Pointers&hash=item258222c356

XBMC will also download information on the movies so you can read movie synopsis etc
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post #3 of 38 Old 09-05-2013, 05:15 AM
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You don't need a PC for that. Most any streaming box will work fine.
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post #4 of 38 Old 09-05-2013, 11:04 AM
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I started with a streamer a few years ago and got frustrated with setting up SAMBA shares in Linux, etc so I went with an HTPC and could not be happier. You'd be better off getting an off-contract lease Win7 Pro machine, IMHO. Then install Media Browser and MPC-HC for your video playback and add a tuner card for LiveTV in WMC if you are interested in that but it is a different topic than the OP question.

Newegg has a Rosewill WMC remote on sale right now for $14, BTW.

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post #5 of 38 Old 09-05-2013, 02:43 PM
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I use XBMC with XBMC remote on my wifes Ipad and that seems to working. She hates computers as well but does Ok with the Ipad.
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post #6 of 38 Old 09-05-2013, 03:28 PM - Thread Starter
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Why is my original post cut off (shorter) and truncated using periods when I view it now? I've checked other threads and the first post is also truncated with periods. But when I edit my original post, everything I typed is there.

Here's my original post and I hope all of it displays this time:

I'm going to buy a PC and connect it to a HDTV set via HDMI cable. I want to play multiple avi files or ripped DVDs from a hard drive. Is there a way to do that by using a remote control?

Reason is that my wife is not a computer person so does not want to use a keyboard and mouse to start playback or to pause playback. She's a TV person so she knows how to play and pause videos from a DVR using a remote control. I want to set things up so she can play, pause, fast forward/reverse videos on the PC's hard drive by using a remote control.

What's the easiest way to do that?

PS: I'm thinking of buying a Dell Inspiron 660s that has an i3 CPU, 4GB of ram, a 1 TB hard drive running Windows 8. The hard drive that contains the video files is on my tower i5 PC so playback will be via ethernet cable through a router.

PS: Thanks for all the responses so far. I'm researching the responses and will post my results shortly.
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post #7 of 38 Old 09-05-2013, 05:18 PM - Thread Starter
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Hi el_kano, mdavej, Sammy2 and SeveredDime,

Because of el_kano's response, I researched MCE remote controls. I found the Sanoxy MCE remote on amazon ($13.28 + free shipping) and it has 458 (4 & 5 star feedbacks) verses 39 (1 & 2 star feedbacks) which is pretty good positive feedbacks.

http://www.amazon.com/SANOXY%C2%AE-Windows-Infrared-Receiver-Ultimate/dp/B00224ZDFY/ref=cm_cr_pr_product_top

The main thing that prompted me to order this remote (in addition to the good user feedbacks) is that in the question and answer portion of the listing, someone asked how this remote works with the VLC player. The response was that once the playlist is setup in VLC, the user can play, pause, fast forward, rewind and even go to the next item in the playlist by pressing NEXT. That will be perfect for my wife's use. I guess all MCE remotes should do this with VLC but this remote is confirmed to do it so I figured why chance another remote.

I investigated using a streaming box for a long time but ultimately wanted the full functionality of a HTPC that has no restrictions and can run the software of choice.

What do you think about my choice of the Dell Inspiron 660s i3 that I mentioned in my post? Costco is selling the computer with a wired USB keyboard and wired USB mouse (no monitor) for $399.99 + $29.95 shipping. It does come with a HDMI port so it will be easy to connect to the HDTV set in the bedroom. Think it will do the job? Any pre-built PC that's cheaper that can do the job?

http://www.costco.com/Dell-Inspiron-660s-Desktop-Intel%C2%AE-Core%E2%84%A2-i3-3240-3.4GHz.product.100054112.html

I'm planning to install XBMC that el_kano and SeveredDime recommended since it's free. Sammy, what is Media Browser and MPC-HC that you're recommending? Is that the Windows Media Center software?

Thanks all,
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post #8 of 38 Old 09-05-2013, 07:40 PM
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The Sanoxy is a nice remote. I have one myself. Just be aware that it doesn't use the MCE (RC6) protocol (in spite of the description). This isn't a problem, but something to be aware of if you ever try to use a universal remote with the Sanoxy dongle. The Sanoxy and its clones (Ortek and Adesso) use the Ortek protocol. Hence if you use harmony, you shouldn't pick the Media Center SE profile, but the Ortek VRC-1100 instead.

You are correct that all MCE type remotes will control VLC exactly the same way.

My personal opinion is that all MCE remotes stink because none of them can do macros, and most of them can't even control your TV power/volume. The few that can, do it very poorly. So I still recommend you plug in the dongle, put the remote in a drawer and get yourself a universal remote. It will greatly improve WAF when she doesn't have to juggle two remotes.

One more thing that may interest harmony users. Since the Ortek mouse controls are nearly impossible to learn, I posted the pronto hex for them in the logitech forums. You can paste them into an email to logitech support and get them added to your account.
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post #9 of 38 Old 09-06-2013, 01:39 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mdavej View Post

The Sanoxy is a nice remote. I have one myself. Just be aware that it doesn't use the MCE (RC6) protocol (in spite of the description). This isn't a problem, but something to be aware of if you ever try to use a universal remote with the Sanoxy dongle. The Sanoxy and its clones (Ortek and Adesso) use the Ortek protocol. Hence if you use harmony, you shouldn't pick the Media Center SE profile, but the Ortek VRC-1100 instead.

You are correct that all MCE type remotes will control VLC exactly the same way.

My personal opinion is that all MCE remotes stink because none of them can do macros, and most of them can't even control your TV power/volume. The few that can, do it very poorly. So I still recommend you plug in the dongle, put the remote in a drawer and get yourself a universal remote. It will greatly improve WAF when she doesn't have to juggle two remotes.

One more thing that may interest harmony users. Since the Ortek mouse controls are nearly impossible to learn, I posted the pronto hex for them in the logitech forums. You can paste them into an email to logitech support and get them added to your account.

Hi mdave,

Thanks for your informative reply. Regarding none of the MCE remotes being able to do macros, I read in the Sanoxy questions & answers on amazon that Autohotkey in the PC can work with the Sanoxy and do macros. Know if this is correct?

I think my wife will love this remote as all she wants to do is use it like a VCR control to watch movies on the hard drive.

Thanks,
Skylark
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post #10 of 38 Old 09-06-2013, 06:19 AM
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You need more hardware and software to make a computer macro control your home theater like a remote with macros can.

My point is without a universal remote you'll still have to use the TV remote for power, volume and input changes. If you're used to juggling remotes, that's fine. But there is a better way.
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post #11 of 38 Old 09-06-2013, 01:39 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mdavej View Post

You need more hardware and software to make a computer macro control your home theater like a remote with macros can.

My point is without a universal remote you'll still have to use the TV remote for power, volume and input changes. If you're used to juggling remotes, that's fine. But there is a better way.

Understand. My wife though is a remote juggler smile.gif. I've programmed universal remotes for her but she never used them. She always reverts back to using the remotes for each unit. So I think the Sanoxy will work well for her.

Thanks!
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post #12 of 38 Old 09-06-2013, 04:06 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sammy2 View Post

I started with a streamer a few years ago and got frustrated with setting up SAMBA shares in Linux, etc so I went with an HTPC and could not be happier. You'd be better off getting an off-contract lease Win7 Pro machine, IMHO. Then install Media Browser and MPC-HC for your video playback and add a tuner card for LiveTV in WMC if you are interested in that but it is a different topic than the OP question.

Newegg has a Rosewill WMC remote on sale right now for $14, BTW.

Thanks for this info! Just ordered a couple for me and family.

Ray

 

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post #13 of 38 Old 09-06-2013, 04:18 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sammy2 View Post

I started with a streamer a few years ago and got frustrated with setting up SAMBA shares in Linux, etc so I went with an HTPC and could not be happier. You'd be better off getting an off-contract lease Win7 Pro machine, IMHO. Then install Media Browser and MPC-HC for your video playback and add a tuner card for LiveTV in WMC if you are interested in that but it is a different topic than the OP question.

Newegg has a Rosewill WMC remote on sale right now for $14, BTW.
Quote:
Originally Posted by cavchameleon View Post

Thanks for this info! Just ordered a couple for me and family.

I know your response is to Sammy2.

Just wanted to mention that the reason I didn't order the Rosewill remote is that the picture of it didn't look like it has a mouse navigation disc like the Sanoxy has. I think that might be handy for mousing around the screen using only a remote. I'm probably totally off base on this as I've never used a remote with a PC before. Any pros and cons are welcome so I can learn.

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post #14 of 38 Old 09-06-2013, 04:40 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Skylark View Post


I know your response is to Sammy2.

Just wanted to mention that the reason I didn't order the Rosewill remote is that the picture of it didn't look like it has a mouse navigation disc like the Sanoxy has. I think that might be handy for mousing around the screen using only a remote. I'm probably totally off base on this as I've never used a remote with a PC before. Any pros and cons are welcome so I can learn.

Skylark

It's fairly new to me also. The reason I chose this was the PC's are running Win8 and not sure if the Sanoxy was compatible (was not listed) for that OS version. In our main media room, I actually have a wireless Logitech keyboard and pad, so don't really need a remote but just wanted to see how well it worked. More of a curiosity.

This is the pad I use:
http://www.amazon.com/Logitech-Rechargeable-Touchpad-Multi-Touch-Navigation/dp/B0093H4WT6/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1378510588&sr=8-1&keywords=logitech+pad

This is the keyboard:
http://www.amazon.com/Logitech-Wireless-Illuminated-Keyboard-K800/dp/B003VAGXWK/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1378510651&sr=8-4&keywords=logitech+wireless+keyboard

They both work great for the HTPC, but a mouse would be fine (especially if I can copy the codes to the Harmony One remote).

Ray

 

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post #15 of 38 Old 09-06-2013, 04:43 PM
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Sanoxy works fine on Win 8, and on Raspberry Pi!
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post #16 of 38 Old 09-06-2013, 04:48 PM
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Originally Posted by mdavej View Post

Sanoxy works fine on Win 8, and on Raspberry Pi!

Good to know.

Curious about the Raspberry Pi, how do you like it? I've seen it in some catalogs.

Ray

 

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post #17 of 38 Old 09-12-2013, 09:58 AM
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Had to jump in on this thread with a quick Q. I have an HTPC running win 7 MC, attached to a Panny 58" Plasma and a Pioneer AVR. My gyration remote, which I've used happily for almost a decade, is dying (buttons becoming unresponsive). Looking for a relatively inexpensive substitute that will mostly navigate in WMC, basically only use WMC and Pandora (is there an add-in for Pandora in WMC now?) Will the Sanoxy option work my Pio AVR, ie volume and power?

thanx for any responses, I've been out of the loop since everything "just worked", and don't know the current best-options.

cheers,
Joel
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post #18 of 38 Old 09-12-2013, 11:55 AM
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No, the Sanoxy is WMC only. If you have a smart phone or just an iPod Touch, a great gyration replacement is Mobile Mouse. You point your phone to move the mouse just like a gyration. There is a free version and a really cheap paid version too. It also has profiles for WMC and Pandora, among other things.

As far as remotes go, there are a few that can learn power and volume for some other device. Rosewill makes one I think, but I don't recall if it has a mouse pad. Check Newegg.

What would really be cool is something like these (if you can find them):

http://www.dhgate.com/product/pc-2-4ghz-wireless-keyboard-trackball-mouse/133769726.html
http://www.globalsources.com/gsol/I/Media-center/p/sm/1044388284.htm

There was a remote universal remote with a touchpad that has since been discontinued. I can't recall the name.

I personally use a standard universal remote 99% of the time and a K400 or smart phone when I need a mouse.
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post #19 of 38 Old 09-13-2013, 08:37 AM
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@Skylark, did you pull the trigger on the Costco Dell? I bought Costco's HPA8 box, but it has Win 8 and no MC, so its probably going back. I laughed when I noticed Costco has the same Dell with Win 7 for $30 MORE than the same build with Win 8. The only drawback I see on that build is no digital audio out (SP/DIF). Thinking I'm going in that direction anyway, or still waffling on my own build. . . .
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post #20 of 38 Old 09-15-2013, 01:26 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jbailey895 View Post

@Skylark, did you pull the trigger on the Costco Dell? I bought Costco's HPA8 box, but it has Win 8 and no MC, so its probably going back. I laughed when I noticed Costco has the same Dell with Win 7 for $30 MORE than the same build with Win 8. The only drawback I see on that build is no digital audio out (SP/DIF). Thinking I'm going in that direction anyway, or still waffling on my own build. . . .

No, did not order. Two Dell techs that I chatted with said that the Dell Inspiron 660s does not send audio over the HDMI. I think they are both wrong but didn't want to chance it after two techs came up with the same answer. (they both had to check with someone before answering me)

I decided to build a HTPC via this thread:
http://www.avsforum.com/t/1489606/design-me-a-htpc-below-300-to-do-what-i-need

I'm about to place my order but will be posting another question in that thread which might change what I order.

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post #21 of 38 Old 09-15-2013, 10:39 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mdavej View Post

The Sanoxy is a nice remote. I have one myself. Just be aware that it doesn't use the MCE (RC6) protocol (in spite of the description). This isn't a problem, but something to be aware of if you ever try to use a universal remote with the Sanoxy dongle. The Sanoxy and its clones (Ortek and Adesso) use the Ortek protocol. Hence if you use harmony, you shouldn't pick the Media Center SE profile, but the Ortek VRC-1100 instead.

mdavej, would you be able to recommend a remote to buy to use the IR dongle with WMC (both Win 7 and 8)? I have a Monster universal remote that runs a specialized version of the Harmony software. I have been using an rf remote to control WMC, called Firefly made by Snapstream. It works fine for WMC, but it does not control many other media playing programs, and I can't input text. Btw, any suggestions for inputting text, say for when I want to search for a show?

I want to use my universal remote, but lack any ir dongle to pick up the commands.

Sent from my Nexus 7 using Tapatalk 4
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post #22 of 38 Old 09-15-2013, 11:08 AM
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Most people get an HP dongle from ebay and use the Media Center SE profile from harmony. For text I use a real wireless keyboard or smart phone app like Hippo Remote. No good options on a universal remote besides using an onscreen keyboard and mouse movement from remote (very tedious) or triple tap.
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post #23 of 38 Old 09-15-2013, 02:28 PM
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Thanks!

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post #24 of 38 Old 09-15-2013, 02:37 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mdavej View Post

Most people get an HP dongle from ebay and use the Media Center SE profile from harmony. For text I use a real wireless keyboard or smart phone app like Hippo Remote. No good options on a universal remote besides using an onscreen keyboard and mouse movement from remote (very tedious) or triple tap.

Thanks. Can you suggest search terms? I searched for "HP Dongle", and it showed various USB dongles.
Searching for "HP remote control dongle" returned nothing.

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post #25 of 38 Old 09-15-2013, 03:00 PM
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post #26 of 38 Old 09-16-2013, 11:04 AM
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Much thanks!

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post #27 of 38 Old 09-16-2013, 11:37 AM
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I know people are discussing what their favorite remote is.

I think what's missing from this discussion is an overview.

When running a HTPC, you have (3) different paths you can go:

1) Traditional MCE remote with a IR dongle: This will look the most familiar to everybody. Remote in your hand, using play/pause/select/whatever. You'll need to be sure your HTPC front end works with MCE remotes (most do)

2) Non traditional remote (keyboard/trackpad/touchpad) with IR dongle: Now you can control your entire HTPC outside your front-end. Use your trackpad to launch browser windows.

3) IP based remote on your Table/Phone: Take control of your HTPC front-end while your iPhone/iPad/Fablet is connected to the same wifi network as your HTPC. Get cover art, full front-end functionality on your touch device. This is the most cool. Make sure there's an app for the front end you use. All the popular front-ends have multiple apps available.
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post #28 of 38 Old 09-16-2013, 12:28 PM
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3b) IP based remote on your Tablet/Phone with keyboard/touchpad and application control only (i.e., MobileMouse, Hippo Remote)
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post #29 of 38 Old 09-17-2013, 09:36 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NorCalJason View Post

3) IP based remote on your Table/Phone: Take control of your HTPC front-end while your iPhone/iPad/Fablet is connected to the same wifi network as your HTPC. Get cover art, full front-end functionality on your touch device. This is the most cool. Make sure there's an app for the front end you use. All the popular front-ends have multiple apps available.

Well, any suggestions for some of those?

Although I want both A and C, because with a passcode on both my phone and tablet, when it's time to skip commercials, it's faster to pick up a remote.

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post #30 of 38 Old 09-17-2013, 09:53 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by leebo View Post

...when it's time to skip commercials, it's faster to pick up a remote.

Since you're working with an HTPC, look into this:

http://mcebuddy2x.codeplex.com/


Downloadable FREE demo discs:
http://www.avsforum.com/t/1475769/de...ently-authored 

Did you really need to quote that entire post in your reply?
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