The Perfect Mac Mini HTPC Remote Control
A giant part of any HTPC set-up is the remote control. People’s choices in this area span every possible option. You have some folks that use the hardware that came with their respective components, regardless of how many remotes end up cluttering their coffee table. The advantage to this is obviously little to no set-up time. The downside? The word clutter should be a tip-off.
Which leads us to the other end of the spectrum: one remote controlling everything. The undisputed leader of this category is Logitech’s Harmony series of remotes. Using software, you can control pretty much anything with an IR port. For a while, I used a Harmony 880 but eventually tired of the complexity.
“Complexity”, you ask? Wouldn’t one remote be the simplest option? Yes and No. While I needed a one remote solution, the vast majority of buttons on the 880 were of no use to me. Like so many, I navigate TV nowadays through an in-app guide – meaning I didn’t need any of the numerical keys, for example. Look at the remote you’re using – that keypad takes up a giant amount of space, no? I only have one TV, one receiver, and a Mac Mini. That’s all I’m trying to control.
So I started looking for something minimal that would fit the bill. Ironically, the Apple Remote is almost perfect – I just needed something that would learn power and volume codes for my TV and receiver. Unfortunately, this isn’t possible with the Apple Remote so I actually began looking for a universal learning remote that I could physically mod the Apple Remote into. Which always felt like it wasn’t going to yield a satisfying end product.
Which is why I immediately fell in love with the remote I’m currently using: Acoustic Research’s ARi3G. Apparently designed with my specifically in mind, it had everything I wanted: learning capability, Apple Remote codes pre-programmed, and the ability to turn my TV and receiver off with one button. A bonus is the backlit buttons, which are really useful in the dark. And it’s footprint is minuscule compared to everything else out there.
This was the Holy Grail for me and I would have paid a lot of money. But the best part of this story? The cost. The remote sells at Amazon for $9.99.
Making it the perfect Mac HTPC Remote – at least for my HTPC.