Plain old remotes are boring. While it’s really nice that you can use an infrared remote on almost any piece of equipment, there are some real limitations to the traditional remote. You have to point it right at the device, it’s slow, and interference from fluorescent lights can be a problem.
Of course, the most common step for DIRECTV customers is to move to an RF remote like the DIRECTV Genie Remote. When used to control your TV, it still acts like a plain old universal remote, but when controlling your Genie DVR or Genie client, it sends its commands using radio waves rather than infrared. Radio waves penetrate through walls, they don’t require careful aiming, and that makes them better than plain old infrared.
It’s still not the best thing out there though. More and more devices — in fact pretty much every home theater device made today — can be controlled over your home internet. IP control is faster and more reliable, and you have a wide array of choices when it comes to the remote itself. You can use a physical remote and a hub device, but for most people the remote built into the DIRECTV App works great. It’s free, it works better than anything else, and it even has “widget” support so you don’t even have to unlock your phone to use it.
It finally feels like an IP remote is becoming a really good option. I personally like remotes with real buttons but I’ll admit I felt that way about my phone long ago. I adapted. An IP based remote can give you a lot of customization that a regular remote can’t, at a much lower price. There are iOS and Android apps that will let you literally build your own remote from scratch if you want, with just the buttons you want.
However, before going nuts, try looking at the free choices. As I said, DIRECTV’s app is free and it comes with a full-featured remote built in. All you need to do is make sure your phone is on the same network as the DVR. You’ll also find free apps for Samsung, Sony, and other higher-end TVs, on both Apple and Android. (Obviously Samsung phones are going to work well with Samsung TVs.)
You may find that working with your phone as a remote may just be the solution you’ve been waiting for.