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How to control your PC with your Android phone

Alex Garnett | April 10, 2013
PCs and Android go together like Garfunkel and Oates, so seal the deal with these free remote control solutions.


There are tons of settings to tweak in VLC, but you just need to enable the 'Web' interface to start streaming your media to your phone.

Next, grab the VLC Direct Pro Free Android app from the Google Play store. By default, it will try to scan for a open VLC server on the network. Hopefully, it will automatically hook in to your PC--you did leave VLC running, of course--but if it can't detect your PC, the app will ask you to input an IP address, just as with Unified Remote.

Once you've connected, you'll be greeted with the program's main interface, which is a little cluttered. The TARGET icon in the top right refers to whether you're controlling media on your PC (indicated by the traffic cone, the VLC icon) or streaming it to your phone (indicated by the Android icon). The play/pause/stop controls, as well as the volume bar, are at the top right, and the list of files available to you are represented by the four icons arranged horizontally: From left to right, they represent local video on your phone, local audio on your phone, media on your PC, and recent files from your PC. Once you're playing something on the PC, you'll get a progress bar at the bottom of the interface that you can use to scrub back and forth through the media. And that's it!

Well, there are actually three more things you should know about VLC. First, your phone may not be able to play all of the video files that your computer can by default--you'll want the beta VLC for Android app for that (it integrates pretty well with the app once you associate it with video files by default).

Thing two is that you can actually access this same VLC remote-control interface from another computer on your network via a browser--say, if you're connected to your media PC from a laptop on the couch. Just go to 192.168.1.100:8080 (if you set a different static IP address, replace it with that one).

Thing three is that you'll need to have VLC already running on your computer in order to connect to it, and it's not really your typical background app--you can set it to run at startup, but you'll occasionally find yourself in the weird situation of having to close and reopen it when you want to switch from watching a given media file directly on your PC to streaming from it. Unfortunately, there isn't really a good solution here beyond using, say, Unified Remote first to open it up, then jumping in with the VLC remote. The things we'll do in order to avoid getting up from the couch, huh?

 

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