PC with a free serial / COM port
Have you ever had the desire to control your
WinAmp media player software with an IR remote control like you do your
stereo or television? The WinAmp Remote Control from
TekGems will allow you to do just that.
The WinAmp Remote is actually a Packard Bell Fast Media Remote Control that
at one time came included with some of their higher end desktop PCs. TekGems has
repackaged this remote with a free software application called WinLIRC and a
plug-in for WinAmp.
To start using the remote, you must first attach the IR receiver to your
desktop PC. The receiver is a square plastic IR module with a 6 ft cable and a
serial connector at the end. The serial connector pretty much clues you in that
this product is a couple years old. Too bad it didn’t utilize USB instead. After
you plug the cable into a free serial port on the back of your computer, you
have to install WinLIRC which is included on a floppy along with some basic
installation instructions. Although WinLIRC has quite a few options that can be
configured, the instructions included with the remote only tell you to change
the COM port to reflect the port that you plugged the cable into.
The next step required before you can begin controlling WinAmp is to copy a
.DLL file (included with WinLIRC) into the plug-in directory of the WinAmp
installation. This is where I ran into a slight snag. I had installed the latest
version of WinAmp (3.0) and found that the plug-in directory did not exist. I
thought I was out of luck reviewing this product until I noticed that an older
version of WinAmp was included on the WinLIRC floppy. This older version did
include a plug-in directory, so I was good to go. I installed the .DLL and was
able to begin programming commands into the remote that would allow me to
control the operation of WinAmp with the handheld infrared remote.
The remote itself is made of plastic and has 34 buttons that can be
programmed to do over 40 different tasks such as next track, previous track, up
volume, down volume, stop, play, pause, top of play list, bottom of play list,
etc. The buttons all have decent tactile feedback and the remote is comfortable
to hold. I actually found it to work pretty well even from as far as15 ft away.
For $11, you really can’t beat this product IF you want the ability to
control your media playback with a remote control. That is, if you don’t mind
having to use an older version of WinAmp with it. However, if you dig around a
little, you can find other software on the net that will let you use the remote
to control other PC tasks. Personally, when I want to change tracks or adjust
the volume on my media player, I just click the GUI with my mouse since I’m
already in front of the computer. If you find that you aren’t always in front of
your PC, but close by, this product might just be the thing you need when you
want to turn up the volume on the latest Nickel Creek track.
Control WinAmp from several feet away
Doesn’t work with latest version of WinAmp
Uses a serial connection instead of USB