Use a smartphone to control your PC or media center

Need a wireless mouse, keyboard, and/or remote for your home-theater PC? Inexpensive smartphone apps can get the job done.

So I'm testing this super-cool Lenovo system that would make a perfect media center for the den. It's an all-in-one, meaning there's no bulky tower--just a screen, a base, and a wireless keyboard and mouse.

What it's missing, however, is a remote, which is shame given that it has a built-in TV tuner. How am I supposed to kick back on the couch without a clicker?

Smartphones to the rescue! Thanks to apps like HippoRemote (shown below), I can use my iPhone (or iPod Touch) to control my PC from across the room.

How does it work? Both my PC and iPhone are connected to the same Wi-Fi network. After installing a small (and free) Windows utility, the app is able to connect to the system and work its magic.

HippoRemote gives me not only a virtual touchpad and keyboard, but also a screen's worth of Windows Media Center controls that fully approximate an actual remote. Well worth the US$1.99 price tag.

Android users can get in on the PC-remote action with apps like Gmote, which is donationware.

Alas, I haven't found anything comparable for BlackBerry. If you know of a good PC-remote app for that platform, tell me about it in the comments.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to kick back for a little Windows Media Center-powered Netflix-on-demand.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags smartphonesmedia centre pcshome entertainmentwindows media centreHTPCs

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Rick Broida

PC World (US online)
Show Comments

Cool Tech

SanDisk MicroSDXC™ for Nintendo® Switch™

Learn more >

Breitling Superocean Heritage Chronographe 44

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Panasonic 4K UHD Blu-Ray Player and Full HD Recorder with Netflix - UBT1GL-K

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Razer DeathAdder Expert Ergonomic Gaming Mouse

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?