Friday, September 7, 2007

#34 Couch Potato Heaven

by Jeff Smith

Having gotten hip to all this new-fangled internet media, you're probably pining away for the relative simplicity of your couch and your oldest and bestest friend, the remote. Why is it that if the remote goes missing, we'll spend 20 minutes searching frantically for it instead of just getting up and changing the channel manually? Its because we wish to reserve the right to be lazy at a later time. And I can definately understand that. I would do the dishes from the couch if it were at all possible. (I'm crossing my fingers that some day it will be!)

Now in order to enjoy this cornicopia of PC-based TV in true American style, we've just got to get a remote. You don't want to have to grab for a mouse every time you want to turn down your streaming
internet radio, do ya? Fortunately, there are lots of ways to do this. One popular way is with the Streamzap PC Infrared Remote (approx $50). This very functional remote has 35 buttons and controls most PC media players using the included software, right out of the box, and hooks in to your PC using a simple USB plug.

For those of you who are more daring, or wish to have a more customized remote control, you do-it-yourselfers would probably like the Creative PC-DVD Infrared Remote. You can also find it by its model number CIMR100. When looking to buy this remote, be careful as some places like to try and overcharge the
unsuspecting buyer. I've seen them priced over $150, but those are people just trying to make a quick buck from people who don't know better. If they're charging over $20 for it, keep looking elsewhere. This bare-bones remote features an infrared receiver that connects via serial cable, and a credit-card sized remote control. It doesn't come with any software, but I highly recommend a program called uICE (Universal Infrared Control Engine) which costs $20.

Using this nifty little program, you can program the functions for each individual button on the CIMR100. If the included remote doesn't have enough buttons for your liking, you can use almost any old universal remote you have laying around. In the end, the CIMR100 and uICE together cost nearly as much as the Streamzap, but if you happen to lose the CIMR100 remote, you can just head to the store and buy a new cheap universal remote and get back to being the kind of couch potato that other couch potatoes look up to.

Keep in mind this isn't an exhaustive list. There are tons of other PC-remote solutions out there. I recommend you do a little comparison shopping before settling on one. I recommend places like or when it comes to ferreting out the best prices online.

Next week, I'll begin covering Video Editing, so hope you come back for that,
I'm sure you will find it interesting.

Questions or comments, write me at

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