A look at byRemote for Windows Phone 7

It’s been a while since I’ve written here.  You might know the reason but essentially blogging has become my full time job and my exploits with Media Center have taken a back seat.  Anyway I thought I’d mark my return by writing a little series on some of the apps that have become available for Windows Phone 7 for remote controlling your Media Center in some way…and there are already quite a few which is a testament to how easy it is to get to doing stuff for Windows Phone 7 with the SDK – especially now that VB.net is a compatible language.

Any way the first app is Big Screen byRemote Ian’s written about it in the past but I thought’s you be interested in the installation experience and using it for a couple of days first hand.

Setup

Well it’s pretty simple, the basic architecture is that you run a server on your Media Center and that provides web / phone access.  Whilst that’s the top level view there’s a few key tasks that you’ll need to go through to get it working beautifully.

  1. The best first step isn’t to get the App on your phone…it’s to go to the Big Screen website and register and download the Free Edition (you can also try the Beta for the Pro edition for free too)
  2. When you register you’ll be given a code that you’ll need to enter into the software on your Media Center, but otherwise the setup is the usual next next next type thing.  To sort the lincense key bit, once the install wizard is done take the option to launch in browser and you’ll see something like this:

image

Yes my machine is called MONKEY!  Hit Reverify Registration (might be veryify on yours) and enter your code on the subsequent screen then select Begin Registration. And you’re done with your Media Center install.

It’s kinda cool to be able to use this in your house, but you’ll want to be able to do it elsewhere so it’s time to do some router config.

  1. Depending upon what router you have go to your router config page, quite often it’s 192.168.1.1 like mine is.
  2. Next locate something like a Servers or NAT select and you’ll need to map your internal Media Center IP address to your external IP Address and map the ports used by byRemote to an internet facing port.  byRemote uses port 83 by default so you can probably just set that up for external use.
  3. You might need a router reboot.
  4. Now you should be able to access your byRemote server using the external address of http://bit.ly/geamtd which will be the Silverlight client.  You need to replace myip with your IP which you’ll be able to get here

Ok that’s pretty cool, but you can make it easier to use yet.  You could do with a nice friendly name, if you’ve got a home server that will sort it out for you, hopefully just pop in your home server address with :83/sl at the end.  If you don’t then a service like DynDNS will help.  This basically updates DNS with a name for your home network and they have a client that you can run on your PC to keep the service constantly updated.  My router actually does this for me.

So with that little lot done it’s time to get the phone going.

  1. Grab your Windows Phone 7, open Market Place and download Big Screen byRemote – the easiest way is to start market place, press the search button and type byremote into the search.  When you find it download the app (you can buy it immediately or try it first).
  2. Next you need to plug in a couple of details.  When you start the app scroll through the panorama to more…
  3. Tap manage hosts then the + icon
  4. Finally enter the details of your host.  It’s all very simple.

Now you can enjoy the ability to set your TV to record stuff remotely, browse your guide, delete recorded stuff and see how much storage you have available anywhere, including your phone or any PC with an internet connection.

I have to say I love this application, it’s really tightly integrated and after running it on my MC for a week the server component isn’t causing any impact on the box or on the Media Center experience, which some other software I’ve tried has.  I would have recorded an awesome video, but Niall already did that…

byRemote

Right, on to some more Windows Phone 7 + Media Center goodness … in the next post we’ll take a look at the experience of using the phone as an actual remote.

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