Today my Boxee set up is officially retired. It served me well, but the item I got in the mail this afternoon made it real simple to move on. A week or two back I was reading on the XMBC forums about a little media center companion that turns your regular remote control into your media center remote.
This device is a usb dongle called Flirc and it enables you to ditch the mouse, the keyboard, or the separate Boxee, MCE, or Windows remote to control your media center and simply use your existing TV/cable remote. How does it work? Well, since you can navigate around any media center application with a keyboard, Flirc will map buttons on your remote to act as keyboard movements. Pretty sweet, huh?
After the recent Plex let down with the Kindle Fire Remote App, I decided to just install XBMC, the platform Boxee and Plex are based on anyways. Once I mapped out my TV and movie folder locations and added some online content extensions, I was back in “media center” business.
The whole set up is dead simple too. You download and install the Flirc app, plug your Flirc USB device into the computer, and then launch the app. From there the program walks you through mapping the basic functions like left, right, up, down, select, and back. That’s called the minimalist controller which is all I have at the moment, but it seems more than enough to get me around right now.
If you want more, there’s a few other pre-configured controllers such as full keyboard, Boxee, XBMC, and Windows Media. Apparently you can store up to 160 keys which allows you to create your own custom configuration too.
Although I haven’t messed around extensively yet, I’m wondering if the full keyboard option will allow you to actually launch your media center in the event you close it after each use. I’ll likely leave XMBC up all the time anyway (unless it acts like Boxee and starts using excessive proc and revving up my fans), but it would be very cool to be able to launch your media center via your regular remote control.
Here’s an image of my regular old remote that came with my Samsung plasma. I paired six keyboard keys to buttons I selected on my remote control during the set up process, and now I’m styling. Ha! Check it out.