Using a tablet to control my media centre PC and programs, but which one?

I've a media centre pc that evolves around a PC build. I use this for the likes of XBMC, PowerDVD, and then booting up an internet browsing from say iPlayer, 4OD, Channel 5 catch up etc. It's rarely used to browse the internet and it never gets used to play games.

I've currently a Logitech Mini Dinovo which when working is ace, but seems to be plagued with becoming unresponsive when resuming from sleep. I'm in the midst of trying to fix this with various ideas flaunted about the net, but that aside.

I'm tempted by the idea of a tablet. This will replace the above keyboard/ mouse and hopefully add XBMC support so that I can control the media centre/ what is playing through the tablet. I would also like to be able to control the PC, so move the mouse about I guess so I can minimise XBMC and load up other programs such as PowerDVD etc and also use it to input the odd thing of data when organising my media or directing a browser to a webpage.

It's main use would be for controlling the media centre. Due to this requirement, I quite like the look of the Google Nexus 7 due to it's smaller size than the iPad for example.
I mention the Google pad as I caught a review of it which spurred my research, but I've never used one, only a brief fling with an iPad.

It's second use would be using the rest of it's abilities. Maybe it'll take over browsing the net a bit off my iphone when the PC's aren't turned on.

So is using a tablet the new media centre remote? Is it seemless and easy to do, or will swapping from the XBMC app to an app to move a mouse about etc become a pain?

What do you use to and what do you control with is the question of my day chaps?


FN: I put this into the Home entertainment section as opposed to the tablet section as I am interested in their use for media centre capabilities, not general specs of the units. I hope that it can stay in here.


I use multiple tablets (archos 70IT, HP Touchpad, Android phone, i-pod touch) to control my squeezeplayer apps and these work really well. I have also tried Splashtop to remotely control the HTPC on the HP Touchpad (i-pad size, 9.5 inches) and whilst it works - it gives you a remote screen into the HTPC - it is a bit clunky and not all of the windows functions work, like scrolling on some web pages.

I also have a mini DiNovo and had the same issues as you, not working when resuming from sleep. I solved this by changing the usb port and now it resumes properly.

In summary I have found that dedicated remote control apps are fine on a tablet but more general remote windows apps (i.e. controlling windows itself) are not that good and trying to control windows on a small touchscreen (including the touchpad) is not that good/satisfying or easy. I will stick to my DiNovo for that. If there is a good app for the a specific application then these seem to work well, but there are also not such good ones. For example I have not found a good remote app for Spotify, they all seem a bit clunky, however I can control spotify with my remote squeezeplayer app (squeezecontrol) and this works really well. PowerDVD has a remote control android app and this would be much easier than trying to do it by a remote windows app though I have not tested this one to see how well it works. When I am surfing web pages etc. I use the Touchpad and like the facility of a device I can use on the sofa.

I think tablets are the way to go for controlling an HTPC as you can effectively run the HTPC headless but it is down to the quality of the apps. The Nexus is not hugely expensive and it has other uses (sofa surfing) beyond remote control of your HTPC so I would give it a go.

Hope that helps


Standard Member
XBMC has a dedicated remote app for android which allows one to browse one's media library on an Android device.

For general pc control I quite like Unified Remote, again for anroid (not sure about iOS)

So is using a tablet the new media centre remote?
God, I hope not. The big problem I have with touch screens is one can't use them without having to look at them, so for basic menu navigation and play/stop/ffwd/rwnd/pause (i.e. stuff where one really wants to be looking at what's going on on the main screen) they're pretty wretched.

These things are a great addition to a decent remote with real buttons because they are so versatile and it is kind of neat to be able to browse through one's media collection on a phone or tablet with all the cover art without having to interrupt whats on the main screen but, in my opinion, they aren't a good replacement. For one thing they need to be charged up at least once a day.
I currently use a Logitech Harmony One alongside my Logitech Mini Dinovo.

The Logitech turns the TV, amp and media centre to all the right settings. I can even load up XBMC from the windows desktop if needed and shut it again through the program with the Harmony One.

I had noticed that there was a PowerDVD app for the iPhone, so hoped that there would be a suitable Android version. When I've loaded PowerDVD up (via the Mini Dinovo), I can play, pause etc...via the Harmony One.

But it's the Mini Dinovo which is letting it all down for me. I have changed USB ports and I'm currently running off a different Bluetooth receiver, but it plays up quite often. I can get it working when it decides not too by taking the battery in and out. Not a hard task, but a pain in the arse in my seek for a neat solution. It annoys me that Logitech seemed to have turned there back on really fixing this issue, but that's another discussion for another day.

Being able to sit outside on the patio and remotely cue up a new song on the media centre appeals to me. I do have the app for my iPhone, but rarely can I be bothered to use it, and it's normally in my pocket as opposed to being on the table for people/ the girlfriend to use.

I quite often use the iPhone to browse in the internet or check emails instead of loading up the main PC, so the other features of a tablet would be a bonus, but my phone does these fine. I'm more hoping that I can tailor it to and perfect my media centre solution as opposed to the slight clunkyness it has at the moment.

Maybe I should just look into adding more to the Harmony One? I can load XBMC from it. So I must be able to set it to load up PowerDVD for me. Can I set it to load up webpages for me too, like a 4OD button and an iPlayer button?

But I do like the look of a tablet!

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