I use VLC Media Player for all of my video playback, as it will play anything you throw at it with great support for many formats. When I heard that VLC had released an application on the iTunes AppStore to remotely control the VLC Media Player, I was very excited to see how it worked and despite some minor gripes I have with it, I wasn’t disappointed.
You’ll find two versions of the application available: a VLC Remote free version and a VLC Remote paid version for £1.79, or $2.99 in the US store. I’d recommend purchasing the full version, as it allows you to browse through your files on the selected computer, including any external drives (this is essential for me, as all my media is stored on my external hard drive) so you don’t have to leave your chair!
When you download VLC Remote, you’ll be prompted to download an application for your Mac or PC that enables the remote to work with your computer. You’ll be asked for your e-mail address, which will be used to send you a link to the setup assistant. Your iPhone or iPod Touch will need to be connected to the same local network as a computer you want to control. If you’re connected to the same Wi-Fi network as the computer you want to control, the computer will appear in the list of available devices. With VLC running on the selected computer, you can begin to remotely control VLC.
Once connected to a computer, the interface is very simple and intuitive. You’ll find five icons across the bottom of the screen, which allow you to browse through all your files and select one to play; manage your playlists and even access IMDB for information on the currently playing movie or TV show.
When browsing through the files on your computer, all your folders are managed alphabetically. To go up a level, there’s a folder link at the top of the list, which I often get confused with the back button that takes you back to the remote. You can also do this by selecting one of the buttons at the bottom of the screen.
Admittedly, the interface could be organised a little better to make it more intuitive and easy to use, but it does its job well allowing you to navigate through files efficiently. If you keep many of your files in the same directory, a feature you’d find very useful is the ability to set the default browsing directory for each computer. To do this, you have to set your computer as a ‘saved remote’. To save a computer, you can add it to the list of saved computers on the home page, which is again, simple and easy to do.
When controlling VLC itself, the controls are a breeze and offer sufficient functionality. You can make your video display full screen, as well as do other things you’d expect from any remote, such as pause, stop and change volume. As well as this, you can easily access the time controls, allowing you to skip to any part of your video file.
As a TV enthusiast who uses VLC Media Player for playing back all sorts of video files on my computer, the VLC Remote app is priceless to me, and well worth £1.79. I definitely recommend anyone with an iPhone or iPod Touch (or a Pre) purchase this, as it’s a great application for any couch potato with a HTPC!