The Unified Remote is not a new application by any stretch of the imagination but for what feels like years I’ve been looking for a remote control for my PC that was at least somewhat competent.
Unfortunately in my many years of searching for a good app that just works I’ve encountered many more which are great but act more like a wireless mouse and keyboard than a remote.
The trouble with this “solution” (it’s not solving anything really) is that as you get further away from your PC the harder it gets to see the mouse pointer and this means these solutions aren’t all that good.
What I really wanted was an application that would allow me to hit pause without fussing over tapping three times while facing the sun just to pause a video.
So a few weeks ago I started testing out an application which comes highly recommended, Unified Remote.
Initially I was using the free version of the app which, while feature rich, limits how many remotes you can have and locks off some of the more premium apps you might use remotes for.
The premium version costs R76.99 and it’s absolutely worth that price.
Let’s start with the basics.
Like so many other applications, Unified Remote can be used as a wireless mouse and keyboard. This makes browsing through websites or apps on your PC much easier.
This is the biggest problem with these remote solutions and if this is where the functionality of Unified Remote ended I wouldn’t be writing this.
Unified Remote features remote controls for the most popular streaming sites, media apps and even browsers.
The application has remotes for different platforms so if you use Netflix, there is a specific Unified Remote for the website and one for apps. However this isn’t always the case so things like Spotify can be controlled from one media remote rather than needing a separate remote for the desktop and web apps.
The same goes for apps that have basic functions like skipping tracks.
One of the features that had me tap “buy” is the general media remote.
With this I can make use of things like volume control, pause, stop and skip across my entire PC so that I can adjust volume or rewatch an episode or movie right from my phone’s pull down menu.
But the app specific remotes are wonderful. The inclusion of a “Skip Intro” button for Netflix is a godsend and made binge-watching series a real joy.
With all of this in mind you’d be forgiven for thinking this app requires hours of setup, but the good news is it doesn’t.
A quick server download from the Unified website will have you connecting to your PC in no time, provided you don’t run into any port issues.
If you do need to allocate ports for Unified, this can be easily done via the server interface.
What really bowled me over however was the focus on security.
You are able to set user names and passwords for everybody who might be using the app for your home. There’s even an option to encrypt all network traffic between the remote and the server.
Response times from pressing a button to an action happening are instant and only once did I have an issue which, upon closer inspection was a pure PEBKAC error.
While there is a warning that encrypting traffic can decrease performance, I’m yet to encounter that. That having been said, I am using a premium smartphone with a beefy desktop so your mileage may vary.
Another rather swish feature (though one I can’t test) is being able to use your phone as a remote for your TV. You will need a phone with an IR blaster though in order to make use of this.
Even better is that you can create your own Unified Remote or setup the app so that your PC can be powered on with your smartphone.
You can even browse your PC, access your PC’s display remotely and setup custom remotes with a bit of technical know how. Beyond that, Unified’s FAQ and tutorial section is very robust and we’re yet to find a problem the forum can’t answer.
So far there is very little Unified Remote can’t do for me and it’s astounding to think this costs less than R80.
What’s more is that Unified has multiple redundancies in place so you can connect to your PC via WiFi, Bluetooth, LAN and WAN.
This is just such a good app I felt I had to shout about it a bit more.
Not only does it do what it says on the box, it does it well.
Of course, this is my personal experience and thankfully Unified has a free version of the app for you to try out before you hand over your money.
One final note is that Unified has no hand in this piece, it’s just a great piece of software PC owners might want to consider if they, like me, use their PC for everything from work to streaming media.
Unified Remote is available for Android and iOS on mobile and Windows, macOS, Linux and more for desktops or notebooks.
[Image – CC 0 Pixabay]