I have always been a big fan of having a custom home media center PC, and have used both XBMC and Plex for a long time now. But of course, all the work setting up the perfect home media center is useless if you are still bound to a mouse and keyboard. I spend a long time researching the best options for using different remote controls, game controllers, as well as phone and tablet applications to control my media center PC. One of the best and most useful devices that I have come across so far has been the Flirc.
The Flirc is a very small usb device that works with practically any IR remote control. After installing the free software, it is very easy to get your remote control working with your media center in just a few minutes. The software has a few different views to program your Flirc specifically for programs like XBMC, Boxee, and WMC. I primarily use Plex, so I usually just stick to the full keyboard view. You can program any key on your keyboard to any button on your remote control and the Flirc does the rest!
One other thing that is great about the Flirc is that it stores the programmed keystrokes on the usb device itself, which allows you to plug your Flirc into another computer and still have your remote control working like normal without having to install the software or re-program it. It even works to control Plex on my Surface RT! (Not that this is very useful, I was just curious)
The one drawback of the Flirc is that it is using an IR signal, so you can’t have anything blocking the path between your remote control and your Flirc. For me, this isn’t much of a problem, as I also use an Xbox 360 controller to control my media center when I’m not in a good spot. However, the Flirc only costs about $20, so it is a very inexpensive and easy way to get your media center PC up and running with your remote control of choice. I definitely recommend this product!