Audiophile Play with an iPad as a Remote Control
iPad as a Remote Control
The iPad has made a huge impact in the world of custom A/V integration. But you don't need to have a lavish custom home theater installation to enjoy the benefits that it brings. More and more devices are networked these days, which means that many of them can be controlled by the iPad. All you need is the right software. True, a regular iPhone or iPod Touch will often do the same thing, but screen real estate is a key factor when dealing with a large number of albums or playback options. Look at the picture above: which method do you suppose is easier to use for controlling a network media player? That remote, for the NAD C 446, is actually quite good as far as standard remotes go. But it just can't compare to the iPad.
Apple's free Remote app is a simple way to control a media center PC or Mac running iTunes. The Logitech Harmony Link will allow your iPad to take charge of up to 8 devices in your system, translating RF signals into infrared which your TV or Blu-ray player can understand. And with ProRemote you can even control digital audio workstation software such as ProTools or Ableton Live. If you google "iPad remote control" you'll see dozens of other remote applications, some more useful than others.
Two of the best examples I've seen are iPeng and SqueezePad, which are the premier Squeezebox remote apps in my opinion. Yes, Logitech does offer their free Squeezebox Controller app, but in my mind iPeng and SqueezePad are both light years beyond and absolutely worth the cost of admission. iPeng will likely appeal more to the power user, while SqueezePad is focused on a slick, easy to use interface. Either one is a huge improvement over the stock remote for a Squeezebox Touch. You don't even have to own a Squeezebox product to make use of these apps --- use the free VortexBox software to turn any PC into a music server, and then control it with your iPad.
Many devices use the UPnP protocol (hence the first U standing for Universal) rather than Squeezeserver, and the iPad has those covered too. My favorite app for controlling UPnP devices is PlugPlayer. It has all the expected bells and whistles, and does have a dedicated version for the iPad. There are also some quality alternatives available for free: iMediaControl is more of a stripped down player - it's simplicity is its strength. 8player lite and SmartStor Fusion Stream are good looking apps that exchange ease of use for more advanced features. Certainly all three of these free options are worth a try.