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Control Windows Media Center with Mediamote (review)

Your iPhone can already control iTunes from afar, but what about Windows Media Center? Mediamote turns your handset into a slick little clicker, and it doesn't cost a penny.

Rick Broida Senior Editor
Rick Broida is the author of numerous books and thousands of reviews, features and blog posts. He writes CNET's popular Cheapskate blog and co-hosts Protocol 1: A Travelers Podcast (about the TV show Travelers). He lives in Michigan, where he previously owned two escape rooms (chronicled in the ebook "I Was a Middle-Aged Zombie").
Rick Broida
2 min read
The free Mediamote app turns your iPhone or Touch into a Windows Media Center remote!

Mediamote is a free app that turns your iPhone or iPod Touch into a remote control for Windows Media Center.

That's awesome news for anyone who runs WMC on, say, a laptop or den PC, and wants a way to control it from the couch. Mediamote sets up a simple ad-hoc Wi-Fi network between Windows and the iPhone.

I'm not sure I've ever seen an App Store listing with less information than the one for Mediamote, which is something of a problem: there's no indication that you need to visit the developer's Web site and install the Mediamote server on your PC.

With that step done, run the server and then fire up the Mediamote app on your iPhone. It should immediately find the server and get you connected. Now just start Windows Media Center and you should be all set.

Mediamote isn't much to look at--if ever a program needed skins, it's this one--but it gets the job done. It sports all the controls you need to operate WMC, with dedicated buttons for Recorded TV, Guide, Live TV, and DVD Menu. (Here's a complete button guide if you need help.)

Ironically, the one thing missing is WMC's signature big, green Start button. But at least there's a pop-up numeric keypad for punching in channel numbers.

In my initial tests, Mediamote worked like a charm, with zero lag between button-taps and the corresponding action on the PC. And guess what? There's a nifty hidden feature: shake your iPhone and you can choose two other apps to control: iTunes and Windows Media Player 11. (Needless to say, Apple's own Remote app handles the former much better.)

Although Mediamote definitely comes across as a 1.0 release (actually, more like 0.9), it works as advertised. It's a very handy little freebie for those seeking some distance from Windows Media Center.