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Topic:
Palm/Visor as entertainment control center
This thread has 13 replies. Displaying all posts.
Post 1 made on Sunday July 23, 2000 at 15:22
PeterS
Historic Forum Post
There have been quite a few messages in this forum about using a Palm PDA as a universal remote control. I thought I'd add my $0.02 worth in a separate thread from the too long "Palm Pilot is an excellent Universal Remote Control" thread. I think I'm covering a little bit of new ground but if not, I apologize.

First of all, let's talk about the Palm or Visor as a universal remote control. I think most users to this site know about OmniRemote and how it can turn your PDA into a URC. There has been a great deal of discussion, some of it a bit emotional, comparing this solution to the Pronto and other URCs. I own a Pronto and I've used OmniRemote on a Palm Pilot with 2MB memory/IR upgrad, Palm Vx and Visor with the Springboard module. Purely as a URC the Pronto has a few main advantages over OmniRemote: The Pronto screen has higher resolution. You can add custom icons to the Pronto. And the macros are slightly more powerful. Unless you have the OmniRemote Springboard module or another IR extender, the Pronto also has significantly higher IR power. Also, unless you have ORDesktop (pardon the plug), the Pronto can be customized on your PC while OmniRemote can't. Overall, the Pronto wins out even over the best OmniRemote combination which is a Visor + OmniRemote Springboard module + ORDesktop. But not actually by all that much in my opinion.

In terms of price, the Visor combination or a Palm III with IR extender, wins by as much as $100.

But a Palm PDA is capable of doing things that a Pronto can't. Others have wondered why that would matter. I'll give you a few reasons:

You can store TV listings. Gist has daily TV listings which you can download to your Palm using AvantGo. I get my TV from Satellite and I use Gist to get a daily restricted listing of the stations I most often watch. It is a lot faster to go through that list than scrolling through the satellite pages on my TV. (Gist could be better. A spreadsheet or database format would be a lot more functional.) AvantGo and Gist are both free.

You can use the calendar to set alarms for particular TV or radio programs that you want to see.

You can keep a list of movies and their ratings on your Palm. Look up a movie when it comes on or take your Palm with you to video store when looking for something to rent.

You can store your CD database on your Palm I have a 300 disk CD changer which currently has over 240 CDs in it. Finding a particular CD can be a pain. But I've catalogued my collection using Keep It Compact on my PC. It uses the CDDB internet CD database to automatically download the CD information. I then export from KiC to an Excel spreadsheet which I read on my Visor using Documents To Go. (There are other, cheaper, Excel readers but I already had this one.) Now I can search for a CD on my Visor. The cost of this solution is about $60, mostly because of Documents To Go. KiC is $20, I think.

I'm sure that there are other similar uses that make the Palm more of an entertainment control center than just a universal remote control.

I really like the Pronto. It is a great remote and there are some really impressive ccf files on this site. But, even though I have one and paid big bucks for it, I use the Visor because of the extra functionality that it gives me.

I'd be very interested in how other people use there Palms as part of their entertainment system.

Peter Sharpe
[email protected]

Disclaimer: I'm the author of ORDesktop and so I have a stake in the Palm being used as a URC. However, the reason I wrote ORDesktop was because I was so excited about the Palm as a URC and more.

Links: (Except for ORDesktop and Pacific Neo-Tek, I have no affiliation with any of these sites or companies.)
www.avantgo.com
www.gist.com (TV listings)
www.pacificneotek.com (OmniRemote)
www.ordesktop.com
www.keepitcompact.com
www.dataviz.com (Documents To Go)
www.microsoft.com (Excel;-)
OP | Post 2 made on Sunday July 23, 2000 at 20:10
GregoriusM
Historic Forum Post
A very good description of the benefits in a PDA/HPC as URC, Peter! I'm sure many have neglected these other features, concentrating on not wanting to use their daily PDA as a URC. Buying a PDA strictly for URC use also includes all of the above facilities, and this will only continue to increase, especially when new PDA's this fall mostly will come with wireless connectivity, so a lot of what you need to do on your PC to get the info into your PDA will be done directly to the PDA itself. CD/DVD databases, TV listings, (does BlockBuster provide a "coming soon" listing on its website?). I'm sure with a new thread, many, many more uses will surface!!! But, as Daniel has mentioned, what to call the Forum? -greg
OP | Post 3 made on Sunday July 23, 2000 at 20:16
GregoriusM
Historic Forum Post
Peter: My Palm Professional with 2MB upgrade has the IR distance I require, but with poor dispersion. Does the PacificNeotek IR extender or the Visor provide wider dispersion? - greg

And has this got to be the easiest remote to learn on?!!!!!
OP | Post 4 made on Wednesday July 26, 2000 at 23:54
PeterS
Historic Forum Post
Greg: The dispersion with the Springboard module is ok but not outstanding, in my experience. You do have to point the Visor in at least the general direction of the component you are trying to control.

I'm not sure that it is really any worse than any of the other remotes that I have except for my satellite remote which simultaneously supports RF so I can use it even in another room;-)

I must say that I'm totally satisfied with the OmniRemote Springboard module.

Peter Sharpe
[email protected]
OP | Post 5 made on Wednesday August 16, 2000 at 23:45
MikeC
Historic Forum Post
O.K. I've got everything together. PalmIIIe, Ordesktop, Omniremote and Remote Extender from Smarthome. The latter only took a week from order to delivery. Total cost without the Remote Extender was just over half that of the Pronto at $399. Nearly everything works as advertised and I am very pleased. Thanks to all the posters who figured this out and took the time to explain it.

The one exception is my Sony CDP-CX100 CD player. Nothing seems to make it work with the Palm. I've 3 other remotes that will make it operate through smoked glass. I have tried the Palm right up against the IR window of the CD player. The Palm/Remote Extender combo works all my other equipment I don't think it's the emitter of the Palm or the Remote Extender. I concluded that the IR codes must not be being captured correctly by the Palm. I've tried Pronto codes for various other Sony CD players, through Ordesktop, but to no avail. (There doesn't seem to be any Pronto codes for this particular remote.) So, please, does anyone have any knowledge or ideas of what I could try next.

Thanks

MikeC
OP | Post 6 made on Thursday August 17, 2000 at 06:23
Dan K.
Historic Forum Post
Mike
Have you tried changing the carrier frequency in the preference area of the Omniremote program?
Another thing you could try is to try learning directly from all three of the different remotes that you have that can control the cd player.I had a device that the Omniremote could not seem to learn from the orginal remote,but could from a universal remote I had programed to control the device.
Best of luck.
Dan
OP | Post 7 made on Saturday August 19, 2000 at 15:12
MikeC
Historic Forum Post
Dan

Thanks for the suggestions. I had tried to program with the other 3 remotes but with the same result. I tried changing the carrier frequency as you suggested and finally got some signs of life at 35.5 KHz. It works but it's pretty flakey. I find it strange really because I have a lot of Sony gear and none of the other equipment suffers this way. If you, or anyone else, have any other suggestions I would be pleased to hear them.

Mike
OP | Post 8 made on Tuesday August 22, 2000 at 17:51
Dan K.
Historic Forum Post
Mike
If you are still having problems with your Sony cd player check out the Features section of this website.
There is a list of differnt things to try when having problems learning codes.
As a side note I also have a Sony cd changer(cx230) and it works great with the Omniremote.I have many macros to play favorite songs off the cds and they all work everytime.I didn't even have to program any pauses into the macros.
If you continue to have problems I will E-mail a pdb. file with just the control buttons for my cd player to see if that will work on your cx100 cd player.
Good luck.
Dan
OP | Post 9 made on Sunday August 27, 2000 at 12:50
MikeC
Historic Forum Post
Dan

Thanks for the file. Unfortunately it did not work any better than the previously learned codes. As you know I changed my Palm IIIe for a m100 and things are now working reliably. Thanks also for the pointer to the Features section.

Mike
OP | Post 10 made on Monday August 28, 2000 at 04:46
GregoriusM
Historic Forum Post
Hmmmmmmmmmmm...... that's interesting that it works reliably on the m100...... Mike, how do you find the range and dispersion...... or do you have an IR booster? And how do you find the m100 overall, with the smaller screen, etc? - Greg :-)
OP | Post 11 made on Wednesday August 30, 2000 at 15:35
MikeC
Historic Forum Post
Greg

The range seemed to be about the same between the two. What worked without an extender for the IIIe also worked for the m100 and what didn't work for the IIIe didn't work for the m100. The range I would like to use it from is about 10 feet through smoked glass. My Sony cassette deck works but the CD100 didn't and nor did the Hitachi big-screen TV (no smoked glass). Pointing is important with either PDA.

I have a Smarthome Remote Extender which I used on both the IIIe and m100. This device does seem to work better on the m100 but probably for mechanical reasons. With the IIIe I had to invent a spacer so that the IR receiver in the transmitter lined up with the emitter on the IIIe. This kind of made the rf transmitter a bit floppy and I really didn't like the feel. The m100 lines things up better but the IR emitter is on the left and the rf transmitter overhangs the edge of the PDA. It's usable.

The screen is a pain and it has noticable dark lines on it that are not part of remote layout. I'll probably be taking it back but I don't know what to replace it with yet.

Mike
OP | Post 12 made on Saturday September 9, 2000 at 10:59
AndrewD
Historic Forum Post
I must congratulate you all on providing a wealth of information for those of us who are interested in using our Palms as a universal remote.

One question though... I have an old Palm III lying around that I no longer use. I have read here about the limited beaming capabilities of these Palms and of the various attachments one can buy the improve the beaming range. My question is has anyone handy with a soldering iron tried upgrading the infrared emitter itself? I have read over the years of people doing their own memory upgrades to their Palms but I haven't heard of anyone upgrading the emitter.

Any thoughts?

AndrewD
OP | Post 13 made on Tuesday September 12, 2000 at 15:06
Akil
Historic Forum Post
AndrewD:

I have done some research into this and it seems that the problem is two fold.

1)The ir "emitter" is actually an irda transceiver (tranmitter and receiver in a single package) so upgrading the transceiver will impact both sending and receiving ir signals. The irda standard limits the transmission range.

2)The palm powers the transceiver with a conservative power voltage thereby further weakening the signal.

With that said, If you find anyone willing to this type of upgrade please post it or you can send me an e-mail.

I would be certainly willing to have a Palm Vx upgraded for this purpose.

Akil
OP | Post 14 made on Thursday September 14, 2000 at 14:44
Drag
Historic Forum Post
I had been wondering what I was going to do with my 2+ year old Palm III when the Compaq iPaq 3600 I have ordered arrives. It just so happens that I was in the market for a URC, and by chance came upon this site and the forums. After reading about the OmniRemote and ORDesktop software, I purchased both along with the IR extender.

I am extremely pleased with the performance of both programs, and eagerly await the arrival of the IR extender - I hope it will remedy the poor native IR range of the Palm III. It is interesting to note that with some devices (Pioneer projection tv) the IR range is ~20 feet, but with others (Mitshu VCR)only 5 or 6 feet.

I spent a total of ~$60.00 for both programs/IR extender and will continue to use the Palm. For me, this set up can't be beat.

Drag


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