How to turn your Android smart phones into a Universal remote control.

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We often lose the remote controls for our many home entertainment components and gadgets, which is why we go out and buy those multi-device, universal remote controls.  Then we lose those, break them, or the kids see what happens when they drop it in a glass of root beer.  But, fortunately, we always have our smart phones handy, no matter where we are.  And, when that smart phone is powered by the Android operating systems, there are applications (apps) that will turn your Droid, HTC Hero or other Android-powered smart phones into universal and WiFi enabled home network component remote controls.

The Android-powered Droid, or other similarly powered smart phones, have apps that act as remote controls for different gizmos, gadgets and some home entertainment PVRs, like TiVo.  However, without an infrared emitter on the smart phone, controlling the television or BluRay player is not possible.  You can control the set top boxes connected to your television, but not the television itself, not the surround sound home theatre system without an infrared signal emitter.

One app that really does deliver is IRemote.  IRemote can do anything that your original television, surround sound system, PVR, DVR, TiVo, BluRay player and anything else that you have connected to your television or stereo can do.  IRemote makes use of the RedEye dongle which connects to your smart phone’s headphone jack and acts as the infrared emitter.

The IRemote has a smaller and less expensive adapter, the RedEye Mini, but that is still in the $100 range, and this would be more expensive than most digital universal remote controllers with LED displays and customizable macros.  Waiting for a few months will see more competition in the universal remote control app market, and with competition, prices plummet.

One of the more popular Android remote control apps is the TiVoRemote app, which can remotely program your shows from anywhere you have a signal on your Android-powered smart phone.  You can check your remaining free disk space on your TiVo, browse the listings and make new recordings.  TiVoRemote costs $1 at the Android App Store.

Other remote control apps can control your computer or laptop.  RemoteDroid is an excellent app that will turn your Droid, or other Android-powered smart phone into a wireless mouse and keyboard.  Using RemoteDroid, you can do anything on your computer or laptop that you can physically do on it.  You will need to download an app to your computer and/or laptop, as well as your Droid or other Android-powered smart phones.  RemoteDroid is free from the Android App Store.

Apps that turn your smart phone into a remote control can do pretty much anything or control anything that is set up to your home network, aside from your television set and stereo or surround sound system.  If you have a printer set up to your WiFi enabled home network, you can print pictures, pages and documents from your Android-powered phone, and have it waiting for you when you get home.  Or, if there is someone waiting anxiously for something from you, you can remotely email it from your computer,  using your Android-powered smart-phone as the remote control.

AndroidTap is one wonderful remote desktop publishing tool, which can control the entire desktop.  Anything that you can do on your desktop, you can remotely perform using your Android smart phone from anywhere.  Great for when you forgot to finish that report and send it in to the professor by midnight.  The drawback is the full computer screen reduced to the size. Color and clarity of your Android smart phone’s display size, and resolution.Full version is $5.99, and a trial version is free, with time and applications restrictions.

The time is not too far off now that infrared emitters will be designed that will plug into the Android smart phone’s connector plug, headphone jack, or computer synch jack.  Until that time, we will have to be satisfied with remotely controlling WiFi enabled network desktop computer components, PVRs and TiVo.  If your home is intelligently wired, then there are a few apps that will give you control over that, as well.

With the power and speed of the Android operating system, faster and faster networks and newer methods of sending large packets of information wirelessly and extremely quickly, remote operation of home network components is getting easier and easier.

And, don’t worry, you will be able to use your Android smart phone as a true universal remote control, for home entertainment, smart home and computer control remotely via Android smart phones soon enough.  Programmers and developers know that this is the ultimate prize in remote app programming, and instant superstardom awaits those who can do so enexpensively, not to mention the money to be made, even making only $0.50 per download.

For the time being, try some home network remote controls, and wait for the universal remote controls to come down in price.  They may be amazing, and their ability to make macros for one-button complete actions, like playing a BluRay disc, turning on your television and home theatre system, and setting the system up to BluRay disc playing settings is unbeatable.  But for the price, a $20 universal remote control will do.  For now.

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