I cut the cord on my monthly cable TV service four years ago last week, and have been enjoying big-screen content via a small box from Western Digital for about as long. I was vaguely aware of an Android app that could control such things, but thought it would only work with newer hardware.
A new TV delivered last week — yeah! — prompted me to download and try out the app on a whim. I should have done this a long time ago; it seems to work great.
This is WD TV Remote‘s main screen. As a virtual remote for my Western Digital box it has more features than the physical remote that shipped with it — for starters the volume controls at the bottom.
Whereas the HTC One and Samsung Galaxy S4 can control a TV via their on-board IR blasters, WD Remote connects to a WD TV over WiFi. There’s no “pairing” required here; so long as the two devices are on the same network the connection is automatic.
Swipe to the left from the main screen and you’ll see a list of available IP-based content services.
My older WD TV doesn’t support Netflix. It doesn’t support TuneIn Radio, either — nor do I have that particular app currently installed on my phone. But because Western Digital’s app supports it I can stream any radio station in the world through my home theater system. Pretty sweet.
About the only place where Western Digital’s app comes up short is with text input — necessary to find your favourite YouTube channel, for example.
Using your phone to enter search strings instead of the laborious on-screen virtual keypad is definitely a killer feature; unfortunately it doesn’t really work. Every time I’ve tried it at least one letter per word never makes it to the big screen. I’m hoping this is less of an issue on newer WD TV hardware.
I’ll be honest, this is the first time I’ve ever used my phone to control a TV set, so what might be a “meh” for you has been quite the revelation for me. If you’ve an app or some other mobile solution that puts this humble WD Remote to shame, let’s hear about it!