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XBMC is capable of being controlled by a number of devices including:
- Remote control
Often the most convent and user friendly way of controlling XBMC is using a remote control. This further enhances the appliance feel of the XBMC and fits next to (or replaces) the other remotes that are likely to be in your entertainment room.
1 Types of Remotes
There are 3 main types of remote controls that are commonly used with XBMC:
1.1 MCE Remote
MCE remotes are the cheapest and easiest remotes to use with XBMC. They are readily available in most computer hardware stores and there are many available on eBay from far eastern sources.
MCE remotes typically come with a usb IR receiver, making them the very good first remote. Because MCE remotes are so cheap, they are often cheaper than a standalone IR receiver, so people often buy them to use the receiver with a All in One remote.
XBMC (v10.0 and later) is set up so that most buttons on an MCE remote work straight away with no editing or setting up. Just connect the receiver and away you go.
MCE remotes split into two main categories:
- MCE remotes that send keystrokes
- Windows remotes with (also known as RC6 or eHome remotes) using the Microsoft eHome device driver to send commands
For more details on MCE remotes see:
- MCE Remote Control Reviews
- Using an MCE remote control in Windows
- Using a Microsoft remote control in Windows
- Using an MCE remote control in Linux
- Using a remote control with XBMC
- Hama MCE Remote (Ortek VRC-1100)
- MS-Tech MC-1200 Remote
1.2 All in One Remote
All in One remotes cover a multitude of devices, starting at the simple universal remotes that don't cost much more than an MCE remote to the $1,500 Phillips Pronto. Probably the most famous all in one remote is the Logitech Harmony Remotes.
- HOW-TO: Logitech Harmony - delay / lag / slow response on XBMC
- HOW-TO: Ubuntu - LIRC configuration with MCE IR Receiver and Logitech Harmony (harmony-profile: Windows Media Center SE)
- HOW-TO: Ubuntu/Linux – LIRC – control XBMC with Logitech Harmony remote – Lircmap.xml and Keyboard.xml
- HOW-TO: Arch Linux - LIRC Version 0.9.0, Kernel 3.2 and new Lircmap.xml for XBMC
As their name suggests, All in one remotes are designed so that one remote can control all the IR (and some times RF) devices in your entertainment room. To achieve this, the remote must be able to produce the IR signals of many different remote controls, this is typically done one of 3 ways:
- The manufacture loads the remote with a database of IR signals and when you set up the remote you 'tell' the remote which TV, DVD, Set top box you have and it send the correct signal
- This obviously limits you to the list of devices the remote manufacturer puts into the database
- The remote is able to 'learn'. The remote has a built in receiver which allows you so 'record' other remote controls signals
- This means that as long as you have the original remote, you can control (nearly) any IR device ever made
- This feature is more common in more expensive remotes as the receiver is an added cost
- A combination of the above. A lot of remotes (e.g. Harmony remotes) use a database system for a quick set up but also are able to learn in order to add other devices or fix mistakes in the database.
- This is the best mix of features.
- XBMC Universal Remote Control
- HOW-TO program your Philips Pronto Unviersal Remote for use with XBMC
- HOW-TO Configure your Cyberlink Media Centre Remote for XBMC on Linux
- INSERT LINK TO AN ALL IN ONE REMOTE REVIEW PAGE
1.3 QWERTY Remote
QWERTY Remotes are a relatively new phenomenon; the rise in popularity of Home Theatre PCs, software like XBMC and IPTV the need for a full qwerty keyboard is growing.
QWERTY remotes still in their infancy and as such there are many different types with vastly different features sets and buttons. Currently there are two main designs:
- The slding keyboard, for example the TiVo Slide
- The double sided remote, for example the Boxee Remote
Each has the advantages and disadvantages, and with new QWERTY remotes being launched regularly the rate of development is very high. It shouldn't be long before QWERTY remotes start taking ideas from All in One remotes, so in time we could have a remote with the features of a Harmony One with the keyboard of a TiVo Slide.
INSERT LINK TO AN QWERTY REMOTE REVIEW PAGE
1.4 Other Remotes
There are a few other forms of remote and remote-type devices that are also worth noting.
1.4.1 Mini Keyboards
Devices like the Logitech diNovo Mini Keyboard blurs the lines between a conventional remote and a keyboard.
List of Mini Keyboards here
1.4.2 Blue Tooth Remotes
IR is an old technology now, IR remotes for TVs have been around since the 1950's, and it is starting to show its age when compared to other technologies.
Disadvantages of IR:
- Requires line-of-sight
- Limited range
- Unable to send multiple commands at the same time
This is where technologies such as bluetooth have the potential to replace IR in the future. To a point this has already begun with the PS3 and a select few TV manufacturers using bluetooth remotes.
Most bluetooth remotes are of no use as an All in One as there isn't enough devices out there that use bluetooth, but they are potentially an excellent way to control a media centre. Bluetooth receivers are very cheap these day $5-$10 and can be easily added to a HTPC.
There are only a very small number of bluetooth remotes available at the moment, but this list is likely to grow over the next few years:
2 Keymap.xml and Remote.xml
3 IR Blasting
Due to how LIRC has been integrated into XBMC, you are actually able to transmit IR signals from your HTPC.
This obviously requires a IR transmitter or transceiver, such as:
See: http://forum.xbmc.org/showthread.php?t=81190 for details on how to send IR commands from you PC.
By placing a blaster near to each of your devices, it would be possible for one control to be used to control all of your IR devices.