There are many apps for iOS devices that allow it to perform as control pad, but is an iOS device the best option?

5 Reasons Why I Love my iPad but Hate it as a TV Remote Control

Eric Thies | DSI Entertainment Systems

Just about anyone who has touched an iPad loves it, and many of us at DSI and most of our clients have and love them, I certainly use mine everyday. On a separate note, many of you know our reputation for making audio video systems (and control systems) super easy to use. Since the iPad is so multi-talented, why the title of this blog post? Here is why :

  1. Too big - the iPad is just the right size for a tablet but too unwieldy to be a practical remote control. If you are a power user, maybe you need all of this screen real estate to cover every single DVR button. For me, unnecessary.
  2. I need hard buttons - I hate to have to look down at a screen to find a volume button or the down arrow. It is just far too slow. I surf my DVR by braille. I know exactly where all of the common buttons are so I can quickly navigate through my 25 episodes of "Storage Wars". This appeals to my ADD personality.
  3. It's never there! - Too often the iPad gets absconded by my 8 year-old daughter. It seems that whenever I have an urgent need to watch "The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills" my iPad is hiding under a Barbie dream house or is shoved in the bottom of a sleeping bag...with no battery life.
  4. Mute! - Back to my ADD issue...I can never seem to leave well enough alone. If I can multi-task, by God I will do it regardless of the circumstances. You want to see someone who can read a book while brushing their teeth, while listening to music, while urinating? You found your guy. So how can I just let this powerful machine only serve as a clicker? Every time that annoyingly loud commercial comes on and I am unable to turn the volume down or mute (because I am buried in e-mails and don't have my control app open) my wife shoots me a look that screams divorce court. The iPad is wonderfully robust but sometimes you just need an instantly available mute button to save your marriage.
  5. Longevity - I don't know about you, but my family drops a lot of remotes. Remote controls take an enormous amount of abuse in my household. Our iPad has had its fair share of spills which, knock on wood, have not affected it. I can't imagine my luck will continue.

All of the above points assume that you are using a centralized control app/control system such as Crestron, AMX, Control4, Savant, amongst others. If you aren't using such a centalized app, the situation gets worse as you will have to bounce between different apps to control your DVR, your TV, your surround sound system, etc. Without a control system app, the iPad is just too inconvenient to consider to be a viable main remote control.

So if you are planning on going 'iPad only' for your main home theater / media room remote control or home automation system, I would suggest you look at some of the hand-held remote offerings by the guys at Crestron, Control 4, AMX, Savant, or URC. There is something to be said for a purpose-built device that is uniquely designed for a specific task.

We often do set up our client's iPads to control their audio video and home automation systems, but ideally as an auxiliary remote control device, not as the main one.


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