Review: XBMC Remote for iPhone


[rating: 3.5/5]

I love my modded Xbox with XBMC. I still believe it is the best and cheapest digital media system that you can get to this date. Until AppleTV can natively run movies in multi format of course.

When hear that XBMC Remote is available on Apple App Store I was so excited and tried to accept the $5 price tag that makes it a middle-priced for an iPhone/iPhone app. I bougth it anyway in the end and hoping it can really work like Apple’s Remote app to control iTunes/AppleTV.

Review Note
A little breakdown on my current system: I use the latest XBMC build by T3CH. I previously used a very old version of XBMC which could not work with this app. More on this below. My Xbox has just a little over 1,000 songs on its library. A IR-receiver is plugged on one of the controller jack and I regularly use my Logitech Harmony remote to control it.
Another thing, I understand this is a very early release so I am sure with a few more updates this app will be a lot better.

Like all iPhone app from App Store, installation was a breeze. Just click buy and the app will be downloaded and installed on your iPhone. You also need to turn on Web Server function on your XBMC, details provided here.

First Try
On my case after I set everything up, I was having a frustrating time because I could not make the remote work even though it could connect to my XBMC. The app FAQ page just did not give enough information of what to do to solve this. At the end I decided to upgrade my XBMC and it worked.

It is definitely inspired by Apple’s Remote app for iTunes. All the buttons are nicely done, album cover thumbnails are slow to load but this is something that will be updated on the next release.

I am going to be super honest here, the performance is not exactly the way that I had hoped for. Everything feels lagging, like when I choose a song it may take a few seconds before it starts playing. Worse, when I click on Songs tab and click Shuffle it will make the app and Xbox freeze and if I am lucky it will start playing a few minutes later. I understand this can be the limitations on my Xbox’s power as XBMC is not only limited for Xbox only but also available on Mac and Linux which may have better processor and memory. But then again this should be something that is mentioned on their product page, considering this is not a free nor a beta version.

Apart from the lack of information on their website, support is something that the developer’s put attention to. They provided forums for people to ask questions and give suggestion. They are also quite responsive when I emailed them regarding my problems.

For $5 I feel this app is a bit overpriced, considering similar app was already developed a year ago for jailbroken iPhone. Maybe I am being too subjective here, but $5 also feels hefty because everything else about XBMC are community-maintained and free.

If you have an Xbox with XBMC and use it a lot, it is nice to be able to browse through your libraries without needing to turn on your TV. If you have a huge music library and need to keep it organized and sync with your iTunes, maybe buying an AppleTV is a better option.

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