I downloaded the official Android XBMC remote a little while after using another android remote control for quite a while.
When I first saw it I thought whats so special about this remote which makes it the official xbmc remote?
Well that was before one day I was watching Breaking Bad catching up with the seasons and my phone rang but not only that the show paused and a little xbmc popup came up saying exactly who was ringing with a little icon. I was so shocked I actually missed the call. This was followed with a text message from my voicemail service saying I had a new message. It was so seamless and I had no idea the android remote had this built in, so I looked through the settings and found these interesting options.
- Statusbar notification
- Show incoming SMS
- Show incoming calls
If that wasn’t impressive enough, the check list for features is something out of a dream. Here’s a couple of the most interesting ones.
- Control XBMC’s volume directly with your device’s volume buttons
- Manage multiple XBMC instances
- On incoming call, display who’s calling on TV screen and pause video until call is over
- On incoming message, display on TV screen
- Setting that prevents your phone locking the screen. You can apply it either for remote control only or all screens (or disable it completely)
- Cover art is shown where available
- Play and queue albums, songs, genre selections and much more directly without having to turn on your TV. For instance it’s possible to queue/play all songs from an artist but of a certain genre.
- Displays movie poster and actor thumbs where available.
- Play trailer from details page where available.
- Coming soon theres also some more really interesting features…
- Boxee compatibility
- Download media locally to device’s SD card
- Stream media to device
- Rating support in Now playing
- Last.FM integration
All this functionality has really made me give up the wii-mote as the preferred method of controlling XBMC. I’d suggest a couple more things like trans-coding (so you can take away a copy which isn’t multiple gigabytes), send to xbmc (bit like send to xbmc or xbmcfox), a locale plug-in (might be handy), a proximity sensor option (if you walk out the room for example it will pause or even stop after a while xbmc) and the ability to see additional media or even fansubs on the device its self.
I know a lot of people have hated the Windows Phone 7 adverts but I don’t know I kind of like it.
There are times when we (me and my friends) and we do all pull out our phones and twitter, facebook, 4square, etc. It does look a little stupid but hey what can you do? Ideally our phones should be more transparent but right now there still a status symbol. Its part of the reason why I like apps like Locale. A little bit of automation is certainly what I think the mobile is good for, and its consistent with the idea of the mobile as the life remote.
I had the chance to play with the all new Boxee Remote and I was very impressed. It feels so light (it may or may not have had batteries in it) but solid enough to take some abuse like people sitting on it and being dropped off sofa edges on to stone floors. The top edge with the navigation is very mac like with the basic amount of controls to do most things. But then if you roll over the remote your greeted by a full qwerty keyboard. The keyboard is lower that the edges so even when lying flat the buttons don’t touch. Being all RF is good because the keyboard is very usable when not facing the screen. Although the remote is a good size I do wish it was a little thicker. I’ll be buying one for my xbmc setup as soon as there available.
To be honest when ever I see my friends Popcorn Hour box, I can’t help but laugh a little. The interface to the Popcorn Hour Box is just hellish and although it does technically provide a experience close to XBMC and others, it was never a real runner. It always felt like it had been beaten with a truly ugly stick then left out to die. Even the name Popcorn Hour Media Tank, conjured ideas of something ugly as sin.
Well finally the design message has gotten through and Popcorn Hour has now spawned off the PopBox, which actually to me looks like a direct rip from Boxee Alpha to tell the truth, but looks far better than its previous outings.
The Popbox also now supports Apps (is there anyone who doesn’t) But instead of adopting someone elses approach, they have decided to build there own platform called DAVID. Hummm, sounds like a bad idea personally. Anyway the Popbox is going to be closer to 100 dollars that Boxee Box which is 200 dollars.
How ever thats not where it ends. I heard today that not only is the Boxee box coming out in maybe March but also you can buy the RF remote by its self. Which means someone like myself who has a custom box running boxee or xbmc can also benefit from the slick Boxee remote.
Nice you say, but there more. Up till now theres been this category of media players who just do streaming and nothing else. Roku is one and a popular other is Vudu. You connect them up and pay a subscription for like a VOD experience over your internet. Well Boxee just announced support for paid content. If content producers can make this revenue model work, it would be great. I do wonder however if that means we’ll see DRM content in Boxee soon? Really hope not…