Recently I wrote an opinion piece wondering if Smartphones would soon replace universal remotes like Harmony. For a while now, I have been using myRemote on my Droid X to control my Windows 7 Media Center-based HTPC. Recently I have also been trying out DirecTV Remote Pro to control my DirecTV HD DVR. Unfortunately, there is no official DirecTV Remote Control app for Android – or iOS, webOS, Windows Phone, or any other devices. Their official app is great for browsing shows and setting your DVR to record something when you are away from home, but it’s not something you can use to control the box from your sofa.
That’s where DirecTV Remote Pro comes in (there’s a free version too, but functionality is severely limited). The app is priced at $4.99, but right now they are offering it for $1.98 for a “limited time”. As for the nitty-gritty statistical information, here it is. The app has an overall four and a half star rating from 327 reviews, the current version is 2.2.3, the latest version was released July 11, 2011, and it requires Android 2.1 or better. Your DVR needs to be connected to your home network – there is an ethernet port on the back. You also must have WiFi enabled on your phone.
Once you have the app installed on your Android device you can start it up and it should find your DVR and prompt you to name it. If you have more than one in your house then you will name each and be able to switch between them. Click the “Menu” button on your phone and the choose “Select Receiver”.
Once clicked, you will get a list of the DirecTV boxes that are currently connected to your home network. Click the one you wish to use and the app will take control of that device.
Now, we get to the remote control itself. It is layed out exactly as the peanut-shaped DirecTV one is. The top half contains the Stop, Pause, Play, FF, Rew, and other buttons. In addition, there are three icons across the very top – the remote control (home), a star (to mark a show as a favorite, and the menu (which takes you to a list of your recorded shows).
It also contain a key feature that DirecTV’s physical remote can’t replicate – the channel, time, show, and episode name that is currently playing. Click the “current show”and you will be presented with more detailed information, such as ratings, genre and overview.
Once you drop below the top, the remote becomes almost an exact replica of it’s physical brethren. You will find the Up, Down, Left, Right, Select, 4 colored buttons, and all of the rest in the middle.
The bottom also contains the expected – Previous, Change, and keypad.
The Bottom Line
While it’s a shame that DirecTV has not done this themselves, I have to say that I doubt they could have done it any better. The only possible thing they could have brought to the table is integration with there official app. I found no functionality lacking and it is every bit as fast and responsive as the physical remote. If you are a DirecTV subscriber, and an Android user, then this is a must-have app. It takes the actual remote and adds an extra dimension.