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Remote Potato v0.85 – Hands On Review

All I can say is Wow!  The latest release of Remote Potato is a huge step forward.  If you are not running this on your media center you need to go install it right now.  Here is the link: Remote Potato

I really thought that Big Screen EPG By Remote was going to make me forget about Remote Potato but I was definitely wrong.  Even though By Remote had some performance issues I thought the features were far enough ahead of Remote Potato to warrant a switch over so I did.  With this latest release I am definitely back with Remote Potato and I may be staying for good (especially since its free).

So let’s get into the good, the bad and the interesting.

The Good

  • Silverlight UI – The new Silverlight UI is amazing.  I say amazing in the context of having used the Silverlight UI in By Remote.  By Remote was slow and a little clunky.  Remote Potato’s Silverlight UI is snappy, looks great and loads the EPG data with great speed which allows you to easily pop in and set a show to record.  If by chance you do not like the Silverlight UI the regular HTML interface is still there. 
  • Custom Guide – I have a highly customized guide and the early versions of Remote Potato could not represent my exact guide in the browser.  I could still record but it was hard to navigate based on what I was use to.  That is no longer the case.  I now have a Remote Potato guide that looks just like my Media Center guide including the logos.
  • Streaming is back! – So most of us know that Windows 7 allows for streaming of content over the internet.  Well I have only gotten it to work correctly once and it also has the restriction of having to have a Windows 7 machine on the receiving end.  Remote Potato now has streaming through the browser enabled which means it works on any web browser with Silverlight.  My first test was a little rocky but it worked!  Of course this is only for DRM free content.

The Bad

  • XMLTV Files – Remote Potato still relies on XMLTV files instead of the native guide data.  It takes some work to get the guide data setup but it can be automated so it’s  one time setup.  It would be A LOT better if it was leveraging the guide data that you already are using within Media Center.  By Remote found a way to do so its probably only a matter of time before Remote Potato does it too.
  • Logos – Remote Potato has support for using your "My Channel Logos” logos within Remote Potato.  It makes the process very easy to get logos in or so I thought.  There were still a number of channels that My Channel Logos had been able to reconcile that Remote Potato did not pick up on like the local affiliates for example.  My Channel Logos assigned the NBC HD logo to WCNCDT but for Remote Potato I had to create a copy of the logo with the filename WCNCDT.png.  Small annoyance but it can grow depending on the number of channels you have to fix.  I tried to use the logo mapping file in conjunction but did not seem to do anything.

The Interesting

  • Mobile UI– The mobile user interface works great on my Blackberry.  It also solves the biggest gripe I had with the WebGuide mobile UI in that it let’s me easily jump to a specific channel.  I am interested to see if there is an iPhone specific mobile UI coming like the one By Remote has.  That one is slick and works great.
  • Streaming – I did not think I would care to have this back after the option to stream from Windows 7 was announced but after having used both I want it back.  This new feature took my surprised as I did not think anyone would invest the time to try to get it working again.  Nice to see that I was wrong all around.  I am definitely interested to see how this progresses.
  • Recorded TV List – The list is sorted based on when shows were recorded.  Why can’t we choose to also sort based on show title?  I use to use WebGuide to clean up my Recorded TV because it was so much easier and I could do it from anywhere at anytime.  I can do that here too but I cannot sort by Series in the Recorded TV section.

Remote Potato Screenshots

That’s all for now.  Look for more info later.

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Remote Potato Updated

After what has felt like a “Remote Scheduling” drought of epic proportions for Media Center users we are now being flooded by two great remote scheduling applications: Big EPG ByRemote and Remote Potato.    ByRemote has been getting a lot of press lately but Remote Potato has not been sitting on the hands either.

Ian Dixon over at the Digital Lifestyle just reported on an update to Remote Potato and I must say that it’s really looking good.  Check out the screencast below:

 

So will all of these advances by the community stifle an official Microsoft effort or is there still a chance that WebGuide will come back?  Time will tell I guess.  In the meanwhile I am enjoying trying out Remote Potato.