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