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HTC One: Your TV remote


The power button on the HTC One has a secret. Beneath it's shiny blackness lurks an infrared receiver / transmitter to control your TV!

Anyone who has used a universal remote will know that although the idea is good, setup can be something of a minefield. Thankfully HTC have this covered in their TV app (which is actually based on the Peel app) with a very extensive step by step setup process. I set my phone up last night and I documented the process for your pleasure. :)

My setup is a pretty typical UK one - I have a Samsung TV, a Sky+ HD box and a Sony Home Theater box for audio.

Upon launching the app, I was first prompted for my region... United Kingdom. A large number of regions are available, representing where the HTC One will be on sale. After selecting UK, I was prompted for my postcode, which then listed the TV providers available in my area. This was actually a little confusing - the only Sky option listed was 'SD', but I subscribe to HD. I selected SD in the absence of another option and continued. Having done this, the application then asked me which channels were at specific numbers - it turns out it was doing this to determine my TV region and whether I was actually using SD or HD. Problem solved! That earlier page should probably have said 'SD / HD' rather than 'SD'. The next screen presented a list of all the available channels with the option to disable ones that aren't part of your package (e.g. movies, sports etc.).




As well as integrating with your physical TV, the application has the ability to include on-demand services! Great! Except... in the UK at least it only includes HTC Watch, whereas support for BBC iPlayer, ITV Player, Channel 4 4OD, Netflix and the like would be excellent. Maybe in a future release... after all, stateside Hulu Plus is supported.

The next step is to select a couple of your favourite programs - this is to help with recommendations. I didn't actually select any at this point, I figured i'd let it learn as I watch stuff. A quick privacy disclaimer later and we're into the main UI!

As you can see, the default page shows 'Recommended' shows that are on now or next today, as well as the ability to view further afield (for example, 'This week'). This can be viewed in it's entirety or broken down by genre. A quick tap of the remote button and it's time to set up the hardware!


The wizard starts with naming the remote setup. I chose 'Sky', when I should probably have chosen 'Living Room' or similar. This is useful because you can have different setups for different places. I'm going to have great fun at the in-laws with this. :P Next you choose which components you use from TV, Cable Box and Home Theater (theatre?) - I selected all 3. Setup begins with the TV - a raft of brands are included with the most popular at the top. I selected Samsung, turned off the TV as instructed and then hit the 'Turn On' button to test the remote code. The first code it tried worked - bingo! Next, the cable box (set top box). Again, the list is sorted in the same way, I selected 'Sky HD'. After selecting live TV as instructed, I was prompted to test codes in the same way for changing channels... a couple of codes later, sorted. Finally came the Home Theater and, you guessed it, same process, same success. All done! Had my hardware not been in the database, the application can learn from your existing remote, so you should be able to use the application even if your equipment is rather obscure.




When the setup is complete you can access the 3 page remote view, which gives you all the common controls - Dpad, OK, volume, mute, channel changing, DVR controls, numbers etc. It works very well. As you press the keys the top of the screen flashes red as the commands are transmitted, a nice touch and it feels pretty slick.


Aside from the previously mentioned 'Recommended' view, you can also view a TV Guide grid view which in turn can also be sorted by genre. Clicking on a show in either view gives you details about that show and if it is a series, you can see upcoming episodes and view a 'Season Guide' which is very neat. Reminders can be set for upcoming episodes of a show (only first showings to avoid a flood of notifications for repeats!). You can also search for specific shows. One thing that is rather odd is that when in the 'Recommended' view you can click the show image and change channel right from the main page. In the guide view it's actually a 3 click process to change to the channel, which seems a design oversight.




When the TV app is open but in the background, basic controls are available in the pull down notification too. A neat feature is that when the TV app is open in the foreground and your device screen has turned off, picking up the phone will turn the screen back on. :)

All in all, the app works well from a software perspective and hardware wise, the IR range is more than sufficient. I would quite like to see the a few usability tweaks in a future release but, yet again, it's a solid start from HTC.

About the author

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Paul O'Brien founded MoDaCo in 2002 as a site focused on Windows Smartphones and has grown it since then by concentrating on providing a friendly community for both experienced and beginner mobile enthusiasts.

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12 Comments

Nice little gimmick, would be nice to see how it is with battery consumption
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I have a couple of questions.

1) I use XBMC with TVHeadend for my freesat, ( no sky or freeview tunner in my TV ), I assume this remote will only be able to function as a universal remote for me ?
2) When you say it works with HTC Watch, how does the movie play on the TV ? I get the phone can play the movie but how does the TV play it ?

I think I better call O2 and see if they have any in stock for me :-)

Si
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You should be able to tell it you have a satellite decoder then relearn the codes perhaps?

I've not used Watch yet, sorry! I assume Media Link HD?

P
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unrandomsam
Mar 16 2013 01:28 AM
What I think about this is :

Why now ? (It was a standard feature and then removed in favour of Bluetooth and was fairly useful. Only the Japanese wouldn't put up with it so their models of world phones usually kept it).

I only know about my Panasonic/Virgin stuff but now everything has either an Android app as a remote or a rock solid DNLA that plays everything.

(I have noticed other makes have the same stuff dunno if it is as reliable)

With XBMC you could emulate something that works if you had a suitable irda dongle. (Those HP Mediacentre ones are well supported but overpriced on Ebay because of this). I doubt it will be better than Yatse though. (Or using UPNP/DNLA)
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Mass market! Most people's TVs etc. don't have an Android app (and aren't Internet connected).

P
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razzmataz1478
Mar 16 2013 11:42 AM
How does it work with Youview/Freeview boxes Paul?
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Not tried with YouView, but it supports Freeview fine!

P
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unrandomsam
Mar 16 2013 11:04 PM

How does it work with Youview/Freeview boxes Paul?


If it is branded "Freeview HD" or Youview it has to have DNLA it is required by the spec for TV's.

(There is some Freeview Branded Stuff that supports watching broadcast channels in HD and doesn't have it but it not branded with the Freeview HD logo)
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One diappointing thing is, that you aren't able to change the order of channels. If you go to Settings --> Channels you'll see all enabled/disabled channels for the EPG according to your TV provider. The problem is, that you can't change the order of the channels. E.g. my provider in Germany has BBC on channel 52 as standard. I reordered my channels. BBC is on 12 for me. The HTC One shows the information of what's running actually on BBC, but when I click on it, the remote changes to channel 52 which is some unimportant selling channel.

I desperately hope, that HTC will update the SenseTV or some genius will enable that.
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One diappointing thing is, that you aren't able to change the order of channels. If you go to Settings --> Channels you'll see all enabled/disabled channels for the EPG according to your TV provider. The problem is, that you can't change the order of the channels. E.g. my provider in Germany has BBC on channel 52 as standard. I reordered my channels. BBC is on 12 for me. The HTC One shows the information of what's running actually on BBC, but when I click on it, the remote changes to channel 52 which is some unimportant selling channel.

I desperately hope, that HTC will update the SenseTV or some genius will enable that.


+1 for me, this the only thing why i don't use the app
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Works flawlessly on UK virgin media TiVo, but without a samsung - esque split screen mode I can't see myself using it-if I'm holding my phone then I'm generally using it so switching apps is much more hassle than just using the remote in my other hand.
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Nice touch HTC - Works fine and The remote wakes up when the phone is moved.
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