31
Jul
snap20100730_173953
Last Updated: July 24th, 2011

I watch a lot of movies on my TV through my PC (rather than my 360, since Netflix says I have to have a Live Gold membership – stupid). This setup works just fine, since my PC sits right under my TV anyway, so my couch is just a few feet away. However, this means that any time I want to control the movie, I have to get up and go to the computer to do so – a definite pain. I made a few attempts at using VNC apps to do so, but they’re not well suited for such a simple task. Enter Gmote – an app designed to make your phone function as a remote control for watching movies on your PC.

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Gmote supports Windows, OS X, and Linux, and is awesomely easy to install and set up.

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That truly is all that is involved with setting it up on the PC – and setup on the phone is even easier. All you do is enter the password, and you’re off. The app sets up all the port forwarding it needs, and if you’re using WiFi, it finds the computer on its own. If you’ve ever set up a VNC server on your PC and corresponding app on your phone, you know how tricky and technical something like this can get – it’s nice to see that it can be incredibly simple.

The app interface is also very light and direct – no fancy UI’s here. Using the app is as easy as the rest of the process: browse to your file, then touch it to play. The buttons are all relatively self explanatory.

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Awesomely, you can use Gmote to play music on your PC, or stream it to your phone. Not so awesomely, it does so through the Gmote server – meaning you can’t access any playlists you’ve set up in your music player of choice.

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Playing movies provides the same yes-no experience. While you can use Gmote to play and control movies with the remote interface, movies play in Gmote's proprietary player (the Gmote FAQ says it uses VLC, but it must be a hugely stripped down version). Your control options are limited from the PC, and getting borderless full-screen isn’t as easy as it should be. Further, beyond the basic interface in the SS above, there are no additional controls on either the PC or in the app.

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The redeeming value that makes up for these shortcomings – and in turn, causes me to ultimately disregard them – is that the app features trackpad functionality. What this means is that if you want to use a full VLC media player, go for it – you now have a full keyboard and a full mouse on your phone to control it. Want to play your latest playlist in your favorite media player? Sure – start it from the PC, and then use the trackpad/keyboard to control the music.

Cell Phones Smoke Signals
Remote controls are useful… … in limited circumstances
Free Limited control via PC with Gmote player
Trackpad/keyboard  
Ultra-easy install and setup  

While the basic remote control functionality of the app is good (but limited to casual use), the trackpad and keyboard aspects of it allow for infinitely more possibilities – making Gmote an app with nearly infinite potential (short of full VNC software).

Aaron Gingrich
Aaron is a geek who has always had a passion for technology. When not working or writing, he can be found spending time with his family, playing a game, or watching a movie.

  • Aaron M

    My suggestion if you want to watch your media files on your computer on your TV and have your android phone control it, download xbmc and install the official xbmc android client for remote control access. Xbmc is hands down the best media center on the planet.

    • The Looker

      Yes, that sounds like a good idea. I agree with you that xbmc is the best media player on the planet, and the android control for it works good too. I have it installed on my PC and my Raspberry Pi (raspBMC). I was wondering if anyone knows whether the android control feature works on raspBMC, and if so does it work if bridging the Pi from a wireless router?

  • aynonimiz

    I personally just use PRemoteDroid to control my computers keyboard/mouse from my bed. A lil laggy at times but does the job well.

  • Pax

    This just shows how lazy you are!!!!

  • Deon

    Boxee all the way. I have boxee installed on my media-pc. It found all my movies in avi format and automatically downloaded dvd-box covers and descriptions, etc. so it nicely displays all my movies and television series on my media-pc. And they make an official android remote control app that connects to the boxee program across the network (so turn wifi on the phone). The controls work great and awesomely simple. Boxee also supports hulu, syfy.com, usa, etc. all the online video websites brought into one application and all can be controlled via boxee remote on your phone.

  • http://twitter.com/Stefing Stefing

    I use a Logitech Pro 2800 wireless mouse and keyboard - excellent range, no messing about with extra software.

  • confuteplus

    One thing to note with this app in Snow Leopard is that it forces auto restart of itunes if you have accessed it with gmote. I think this is genredetection at work, although that does not show up in terminal.

    My experience was that itunes could not be quit, force quit or killed from terminal until gmote was shut down on the computer. This can be frustrating for various reasons.

    Nice app overall - hope it gets even better.

  • John.Langridge

    how do i my Gmote on my andriod phone shutdown my PC i click the shut down button and nothink :( can you help me if you could just msg me on Facebook my names John Edward Langridge and my image is a kid with red tshirt with glases :D thanks

  • https://twitter.com/#!/psycho_maniac_ Jerry Lange

    My smart tv does this with its own remote :)