NPR logo

Is the Remote Control Becoming Obsolete?

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/126108660/126114949" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
The End Of Remote Controls?

Gadgets & Apps

The End Of Remote Controls?

Is the Remote Control Becoming Obsolete?

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/126108660/126114949" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

ThinkFlood's Red Eye remote device works with an iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch to control home theater devices. Press image/ThinkFlood, Inc. hide caption

toggle caption Press image/ThinkFlood, Inc.

ThinkFlood's Red Eye remote device works with an iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch to control home theater devices.

Press image/ThinkFlood, Inc.

Part of this week's All Tech Considered is about the future of remote controls; my best guess is that touch-screen smartphones and tablet devices like the iPad are how we'll be managing our home theater and TV viewing very soon.

Here are some of the apps, products and articles related to the piece. Got others? Please post them in the comments.

  • I've been testing out ThinkFlood's Red Eye device and app, which are good, but not perfect.  While Red Eye performs well on IR devices, setup is not easy and getting the right buttons set up for the right activities takes work. It's $188.
  • The New York Times Gadgetwise blog had a similar experience.
  • Due out in May is the Red Eye Mini, which will plug into a smartphone's headphone jack instead of working as a separate unit. It'll cost $49.
  • Other apps I've used and like for controlling a PC/Mac connected to a TV: Keymote, Logitech's TouchMouse and Boxee's app
  • Remote apps aren't just for iPhones and iPods: check out remote apps for Android, BlackBerry and Palm.
  • Home automation company Savant uses off-the-shelf hardware like iPods and iPhones as controllers for the home. They're working on an iPad version, which looks very slick.
  • A few more suggestions on good apps to control your computer from a smartphone.
  • If you're not sold on the idea of smartphone remotes, the remote control I've been recommending for years (and still use) is the Logitech Harmony 880. I've tried others and still like the 880 best.

We no longer support commenting on NPR.org stories, but you can find us every day on Facebook, Twitter, email, and many other platforms. Learn more or contact us.