The best thing about living in 2010 and owning an Android phone is the incredible number of apps.
My mission over the past few months has been to find the best apps that I can use to control my PC with my phone. I have tested a number of free and paid apps and put together a great list of apps that makes the life of a couch potato that much easier.
Over the next few articles I will highlight some of the apps that have really made my life much easier.
Like most people my age, I love watching videos on my PC and my player of choice is of course the Swiss Army Knife of media players: VLC”.
VLC is a versatile application and there are a number of ways of controlling it from your phone. However, my preferred method has been the free app VLC Remote. It does the basic tasks of volume change, play/pause, forward and rewind easily and without any great difficulty setting up.
1. Set-up your Computer
First, you will have to download the VLC player from their website.
Note: I have tested the Android app with VLC version 1.1.0 and above.
Before installing the Android app VLC Remote, you must first make some changes to the default VLC application on your computer to enable your phone to properly detect VLC.
Open VLC and click on Tools > Preferences. Next, select All under Show settings.
This launches VLC’s advanced settings. Now select, Interface > Main interfaces. In the Main interfaces window select “HTTP remote control interface.”
2. Set-Up VLC Remote
Once you have configured VLC on your computer you can download VLC Remote onto your Android phone.
First, launch VLC on your computer. Unless VLC is running on your computer, the VLC Remote app will not work.
Next, launch VLC Remote on your phone. If it is able to detect your computer, the app will automatically pick up the name of the video file that is being played. However, in my experience it has never automatically detected my computer and I must add my IP address manually.
To connect to your computer, first, click on Menu and Settings.
In the Settings menu first ensure you are connected to your home wireless network. Once connected, click on “Add VLC server”.
In the “Add VLC server” type in your local IP address (for example 192.168.1.101) and leave the Port as the default 8080.
You should now be connected to your computer’s VLC application.
I like VLC Remote because it is a simple that does not overflow with features but it has just enough to make media consumption easy.
All the basic settings can be accessed from the main interface.
Clicking on the Browse Media button launches a file browser that shows you all the files/folders on your computer. However, VLC must be running on your computer to actually be able to browse your media.
If you have all your media files in a specific folder you can set that particular folder as Home. To do this hold down the home button until you see “Home set to [folder]”.
You can select any media file (that is compatible with VLC) and have it play on your computer.
The best thing about this particular app and using the HTTP interface is that you do not need to worry about messing around with your router or firewall settings. So, long as you enable the HTTP interface the app will “just work”. In fact this app has become indispensable. I can now sit on my bed or couch, watch videos on my computer and I don’t have to get up to change the volume, play a new video or play/pause the video. Essentially, this is like a remote control for your computer.
There are a number of VLC remote apps in the Android marketplace, let us know which one you use to control VLC.
Image credit: purpcheese
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