On the podcast I promised to take a look at some of the Windows Media Center remote control apps available for smartphones, I previously looked at Smart Potato and in this post I am looking at Media Buddy. Like Smart Potato, Media Buddy uses Remote Potato as a back end server (which is great as I have that installed already) and is a remote control, EPG and streaming solution.
The main features of Media Buddy are:
- Stream music, videos and recorded TV
- Browse pictures
- Browse your recorded TV
- Browse your scheduled recordings and series
- View the Media Center EPG
- Stream video at various data rates
- Use the phone as a remote control
The first thing you noticed about the app is its makes great use of the Metro UI and looks great, I started out by browsing the EPG (Electronic Program Guide) data where the guide is presented in a neat easily readable format where you can swipe through the data and select TV shows to record (including setting up series recordings)
As well as browsing the EPG you can search through the guide listings, find the show you want and then set it to record. There is a bit of a delay while the server does the search but it works well, you can also view a list of scheduled recordings. The application is not just a scheduling tool, you can also stream recorded TV from your PC to your Windows Phone, you can browse the list of recorded TV shows and then stream the show to your phone. You can also specify the starting position of the show so you could jump any point in the show. This is a pretty neat feature especially if you have been watching a show on your PC and then continue watching it on the phone. When you stream video to the phone you can select quality rate for playback depending on your bandwidth limitations, at the high quality mode the picture is fantastic and looks great on the large screen of the HD7 I was testing it on.
As well as the TV features there are music, pictures and video streaming. You can browse your music collection and stream music to your phone, this is one area I had some problems with, I had problems with this when I was trying Smart Potato. When I browsed the music collection Remote Potato server would crash and need starting to get it back up and running. I don’t think this is a problem with Media Buddy but more like a permission issue on the server. Once I re-started the service I could browse and stream music. I guess this is going to be a less used feature as I have my music on the phone so don’t have the need to stream.
With the app you can also browse the pictures folders and view them on the phone, this is a fairly simple feature but works well. You can also browse the video folders of the server and stream the video files to the phone. As with the TV streaming you can set the playback quality and use the seek option to jump to specific time in the file.
One really nice feature is the remote control, this is a full features remote that emulates the Windows Media Center IR. The remote has most of the common buttons, like the arrow keys, volume etc so makes a good replacement for the physical remote.
You can also have the app connected to multiple Media Center systems and switch between them so if you have multiple systems you can control them with one phone and as it uses wifi you don’t have the line of sight problems you would have with a traditional remote control.
It’s a shame you can pin parts of the application to the start screen, it would be really handy to pin the EPG listing to the start page and the even better the remote control making it simpler to jump to the remote and not have to navigate menus just to pause a video.
There is a free version which has ads and Scheduling/ cancelling of recording is not enabled, Song queuing functionality is not enabled either. The paid version costs £2.99 from the Windows Phone Marketplace and is ad free and has no limitations.
Overall this a very handy app and the if you have Windows Phone and Media Center well worth giving the free version a try, if you find it useful I would recommend the full version.