Can you use a PDA (Visor) as a remote control?
December 13, 2003 8:54 AM   Subscribe

Using a PDA as a remote control -- I'm a bit of a bum and the one thing I don't like about watching DVDs on my iBook is having to get up and mess with the thing to start/stop/pause the movie. I have heard you can use a PDA [I have an old good-for-nothing Visor] as a remote control, but I'd like some more info before I invest [if necessary] in software. Has anyone done this? What did you use? Did it work okay?
posted by jessamyn to Technology (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I've done this -- there are a number of cheap/free universal remote programs out there that are actually all right. That said, the palm unit I was using -- I think it was one of the old IIIxe's -- really didn't have that strong of a IR unit, so its range was limited. Also, the palm doesn't have any buttons on it, so it's hard to just pick it up and start or stop something. You always have to look.

That said, I believe there are a couple of units out there for the mac/pc which can use any remote to control onscreen events. You might want to investigate the integration of a cheap, universal remote instead...
posted by ph00dz at 9:02 AM on December 13, 2003

Bluetooth adapter for iBook+Salling+Sony Ericsson or Palm=Remote.
Or wait for WiFi enabled cellphones and other handheld devices which are right around the corner.
posted by anathema at 9:05 AM on December 13, 2003

WiFi as new Bluetooth. [via Gizmodo]
posted by anathema at 9:08 AM on December 13, 2003

It's not a PDA solution, but I've had this for a long time now, and it works great:

Keyspan Digital Media Remote
posted by o2b at 9:15 AM on December 13, 2003

I've heard the range on the old palm IR units is only a couple feet.
posted by mathowie at 9:26 AM on December 13, 2003

Your Visor, as noted, doesn't really have the range to be a remote. The good news is that you can buy a SpringBoard module with a more powerful IR emitter, and it comes with universal remote software that lets you design your own "soft buttons" and teach them the signals from your other remotes. It's called OmniRemote and is $30.

The bad news is, for less than the price of the OmniRemote, you can get a good learning remote which is far more ergonomic.
posted by kindall at 9:37 AM on December 13, 2003

I've used Salling Clicker (né Sony Ericsson Clicker) with my Ericsson T39m and recommend it. Made the phone a Bluetooth remote for presentations, but works with many other apps including DVD Player -- anything that's scriptable.

My Keyspan Digital Media Remote has been gathering dust since then; it's much handier not to have to worry about line-of-sight, a battery-sucking remote or a cumbersome USB infrared receiver.

There is a new version of Salling Clicker for Palm handhelds, though it requires Bluetooth (natch) and OS 4, so a Visor wouldn't cut it.
posted by mcwetboy at 9:48 AM on December 13, 2003

I disagree about the throw of the visor. I had both a deluxe and a platinum and they both had IR throws that were more than sufficient to use as remotes, at least in my apartment which isn't huge but isn't small either. I used the Omni Remote software mentioned above.
posted by dobbs at 10:25 AM on December 13, 2003

I tried OmniRemote with a Handspring Visor. I didn't have a problem with the IR range (occasionally I had to lean forward a little) as much as how small the buttons on the screen had to be. Once I added 10 digits for channels, a button for power, two for volume and and up/down for channels, I found that I was having to use the stylus quite a bit just to hit the right buttons (and my fingers aren't all that big).

I've since moved up from a Visor to a Sony Clie and the even smaller screen size made me just give up on using it.
posted by eyeballkid at 10:26 AM on December 13, 2003

I have to say, I just started playing with Salling Clicker and it's a real gem. Runs down the battery on the phone quickly, because the screen is always on, but it's also giving you feedback from the computer--what's playing, etc.
posted by adamrice at 10:57 AM on December 13, 2003

ebk, had you registered your OmniRemote software? If you do, you can spread the controls out among different screens. I used mine for dvd/video (I don't watch tv so never had to change channels). So I put used one screen for pause/play and ffw/rew (my most used functions)--three buttons on one screen, making them easily pressed with my thumb. I put the less used buttons on another screen.
posted by dobbs at 2:36 PM on December 13, 2003

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