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. 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.
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