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Using the HTC One M8 for Windows as a TV remote

Did you know that the HTC One M8 for Windows can control your TV? The One – both on Android and Windows Phone – comes with an infrared (IR) blaster built into the top of the device. Combined with their HTC Sense TV app and your One goes from a smartphone to a smart-remote.

See how it works in our hands on video.

As already mentioned, there are two parts in getting this to work out of the box: the IR blaster and the accompanying software called HTC Sense TV. Users simply launch the app and it walks them through two setup steps, including pulling down their local TV and cable stations from their provider, and setting up the TV remote.

Although the HTC One M8 is only sold in the US on Verizon right now, it is expected to go global in the coming months. As a result, the HTC Sense TV app can also handle every cable provider in just about every country around, so this is not just a US feature.

Once you entered in your cable or satellite provider, you can set up the remote to control your TV or cable box, letting you change channels at will.

The HTC Sense TV app displays what is currently on TV with three categories, including shows, movies and sports. From there, it is like browsing Netflix as shows and movies are represented visually with a poster of the program. Below each image is a little status bar informing you how much of the show has already aired. Tapping into a show gives you details, including which episode and description. When you are ready to watch, you can hit the 'watch now' button to change your TV to that station.

Smart-remote apps are certainly an exciting expansion of the smartphone. Afterall, you almost always have it with you and it sure beats channel surfing to find what is new (and it is usually much faster than cable TV 'smart guides').

HTC Sense TV and the IR blaster are neat additions to a category of devices where this feature is not the norm. Although you may not need it, it is an excellent bonus feature to consider when making your next purchase.

As a side note, the Verizon Samsung ATIV SE also has an IR blaster and a very well done app called WatchON, meaning Verizon customers have some great choices these days!

Would you use your smartphone as a TV remote or is a gimmick? Let us know in comments why or why not.

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Reader comments

Using the HTC One M8 for Windows as a TV remote

167 Comments

It's especially awesome now that watching television is rapidly losing in interest in favor of Netflix and similar stuff. Especially in western Europe tv has it difficult. Really a feature I would be happy to miss on a Lumia, especially since I can already control my tv and all using a wifi remote app anyway. Easier to aim and doesn't require an ugly IR diode somewhere on my device.

To me this is a typical gimmick. A feature with no future. It just exists because in Androidland, where this device comes from, people can't differentiate on the usual, as the software is all the same anyway, and so is the hardware, that brands just pull off weird stuff like this to pretend to be 'special'. Not really needed on WP as a Lumia already offers a pretty solid list of stuff that even this Windows HTC doesn't offer. Starting with a useful camera and all the screen, audio and network innovation Nokia has.

Every OEM has its own "innovation" - cos' almost nothing is new, that doesn't mean that Nokia owns the best of all. And IR is not just a gimmick, it's actually helpful when you can't find your remote or you're doing it from the outside or something. And it's especially fun when you can actually use it to "troll" on almost any device around - TVs in the bars, school projectors lol, etc..

I couldn't tell if you were being sarcastic for a while. Add /s to the end of a sentence/paragraph to convey sarcasm.

Yeah, this one is pretty cool. Definitely not a "must have", but if available I would probably use it occasionally. But then, I already have harmony remotes on all my TVs, so I may not have as much use for it as others. To me a physical remote makes more sense so others can also use it. But this would be cool if you were in a hotel for example, or staying at someone's house who doesn't have a good one.

It's been on other cell phones before, even on WP (the Ativ SE). Don't see why this would spur Nokia to implement it.

I would use it, I still use my Treo to control stuff around the house lol, would much rather this be on a 1030 like device though, still wondering does this support USB OTG or MHL?

Pretty much, I'm using the Tungsten E with a 32MB SD card filled full of TV codes.

Also WP does not support OTG whatsoever. There's drivers that was ported over from RT, but Nokia would need to build different USB drivers like that exist on Pre-Production Devices. I'm not 100% sure on MHL support for any of them, don't know if that a Windows Phone issue or if that's an OEM issue.

I have it on my Xperia S Tablet, yet as a cable cutter who relies on the internet, cough torrent cough, for my media consumption. These don't really do much except turn the volume down, etc. Would be nice to see what's on, select it, and the app changes channels, stereo settings, etc.

Yea, I was wondering about that.   If it does not control multiple devices and switch inputs, turn on devices and such like the Logitech Harmony brand of remotes then it's unlikely that I would use an IR blaster on a smartphone in place of my Harmony.

That said if Logitech or another company was to write a WP program to support full functioning use of the IR blaster then I MIGHT use it full time rather than just occasionally.   I'm all for having an IR blaster on a smartphone, it just sounds like it's a feature that I won't use much.

I use xbmc and istream / torrents for most of my tv. On demand for cable has become a joke. They don't update shows nearly fast enough

Samsung does release it's code for developers to write apps for its TV's. There is an app called "Unofficial Samsung Remote" to control most of the newer TV series.

Wait? So the ir hardware is locked down? As long as the ir is accessible, then you can make a universal remote app.

I have a logitech Harmony remote and still find myself using the HTC One M7 TV app ---- its great because you can have it track favorite shows, not just a channel.

+920

I love my Harmony, I have an older mid range model now.   I plan on buying one of their top range models in the not too distant future.   Being able to turn on devices and switch inputs via one "activity" button is great and is essential.

Because every high end windows phone to come out this year has gone through exclusivity, meaning the international launch gets butchered. It seems the same will happen to the M8..

As much as I like smartglass and find the remote functionality very good in it, this is so much better because it works on all your tv's not just the one with the Xbox one.  Plus you can see what's on via nice tiles instead of the guide.  Both work very well though.

If Microsoft doesn't announce a high end Lumia phone by the time the One M8 is released on At&t I may be getting it.

I respect you for your decision. We cant be waiting around, kicking dirt until they finally decide to get their phones working right. This htc seems like a viable alternative too.

Posted via Windows Phone Central App

I'm tired of waiting. My Focus S broke and I waited for something like this to come. It didn't. I was about to settle for the 925, but I didn't like the specs. So I got a 1020 through my insurance. I then wait again. Sigh, its the 1520. Would of bought it were a 5" device. More waiting. ICON, not on my carrier. Waiting, again. HTC One M8, FINALLY! Still technically waiting, but a device I "want" has arrived. When that High-end Lumia comes & has similar specs, but better I will buy that too.
Oh, when my focus broke and I waited I used an iPhone. Man, was I miserable.

Just reading that story cause my emotional stress >< #firstworksproblems

But yay for a good htc windows m8 coming!

Posted via Windows Phone Central App

The last HTC phone I had was the Tilt 2 running Windows Phone 6.5. That was a great phone. Ditched it for the Samsung Focus when Windows Phone 7 came out. I've been rocking the 920 for the past 2 years with an upgrade that I've had in waiting for the past 6 months for the McLaren and then Microsoft killed it. I could not and will not ever use Android, Blackberry, or iPhones.

Or on every TV. This let's you control every TV, cable box, and home theater in the house and group them by room.

I don't have cable and use an HTPC to watch OTA TV, so I use a remote control app that works over WiFi instead. Very convenient. So I won't be using this even if my phone had it. :)

WatchOn for the ATIV SE works with Media Center and the Xbox 360. Controls are a little stiff (no special buttons for the devices).

So is there a way to program it outside of that app? Say that I want to use it with my bluray player or computer (which has an IR receiver). Is there any way for those to talk?

I'd make use of it if my Logitech Harmony remote went kaput. Would like this on other flagships, too

If you can control your media center via IR Blaster, you /might/be able to manually set it up. Can't say for certain, though, seeing as I don't have it.

I believe so. Microsoft uses a standard IR code across all their stuff and they are listed as a cable box.

As I said before, this feature might cancel out the lacking camera on this phone. If both were available to me, I might take this over the 930, due to IR and microSD. HTC support worries me though.

The video shows over-the-air as one of the providers during the setup process. Pretty excited about that!

This is one of the best features of this phone.  Absolutely fantastic!  I love that you can setup different rooms and switch between them easily.  Plus, it controls the volume properly if you have a reciever in the mix.  They didn't miss a beat!!!

I love that I can easily see what's on and even quickly see what movies are on or coming up soon.

Be careful because a lot of cases don't work with the IR blaster, make sure you get one that does.

 

Not entirely true. My daughter uses my Xbox while in the family room. So when I'm in the living room watching tv I shall use this.

Why would I waste my phone battery when I have a remote control that does the job better? Maybe I'm just old, but I don't feel the need for my phone to have an app to wipe my butt when I poop and toast my bread for breakfast.

What remote do you use that has the images of the shows and duration of how long the show has been in play? Seriously, cause I want it.

Was once said about smart phones... Why do I need to browse the web, send emails, take pictures when I have a PC and camera

Are the buttons there for every screen shot??? I do that a lot and if its true then I definitely will not buy a phone with software buttons. :(

would be great if you can create macro blasts, eg close curtains, lower screen, switch on projector, av system, tv box, maybe lighting in future too.

I know it's already been mentioned.... If you have an Xbox One with Kinect, the Smartglass app extends this functionality to every phone that is capable of downloading the app.

haha, ya the Palm organizers could do it in the 90s. It was cool that it could, but i reach out for the remote mostly. But there are occasions when the remote is misplaced so this comes in handy. Gimmicky and nerdy but still fun. :D

The guide and remote make this particularly useful. Timewarner boxes are slow to browse guides and the remotes are terrible. I miss uverse.

My wife loves the integration with DirecTV, Netlix, Prime, etc. She begged mr to add one in the bedroom. We have three of them now.

You're lucky. No way my wife is going to except $2k on Xboxes, I'd need 4 total. She'd consider it a waste. She'd go for one in the bedroom, but not in every room.

Yes, and wise.    The bed should only be used for sleeping and one other activity, and that is not TV watching...

I thought we can connect to any TV we want? Are you saying every TV we try to connect to, we need to register? Because not all TVs in my house have cable boxes.

Meh... Xfinity has a Windows Phone app that I can control my cable box with; change channels and such. Works very well on my Nokia 1520! ;)

That's great but does it handle the TV, STB and Receiver too?  Does it work for every tv in the house?

This defintely has it's PRO's.  Oh yeah, the what's on view is great too.

Daniel, on the android version, when using the built in music player it had a screensaver while music played, is this true for the Windows version?

Posted via the Windows Phone Central App for Android

Sold my 1020 two days ago, bought a 1520 online but wont be here until late next week. I didn't want to use my contract renewal as I plan on using it when this phone hits AT&T.

People seem to forget that IR remotes are uses for all kinds of appliances. Ceiling fans, surround sound amps, radios... Even my Zune dock. No such thing as WiFi on these things that can be controlled by an app... Unless you invest hundreds of dollars for a home automation kit. Even with an automation kit, those types of appliances are basica On and Off with little to mo control of actual functions. An IR blaster can be extremely useful. I would use it.

Speaking of which... Which phone has NFC, IR, optional Qi charging, and support for 128gb SD cards... And still has all the apps/games you want/need? Hmm...

I don't believe they forget. It's the fact that this feature is not on any of the Lumias so it must be down played. Let something similar become available on Lumias & most commenters will be singing a different tune. It's "ALL" the time here. If a Lumia lacks something another device has, it's "Meh." or "it doesn't need this or that." This is a nice addition to a cool device. I'm definitely buying this device. The camera is adequate, I'll still have my 1020 for better pictures if desired and I'm doing the Next program so I'm not locked in a 2 yr contract. 12 months is enough time to give MS to release a Lumia I actually want just as much as this one.

I remember when all PalmOS-based devices had IR. I still can use my beloved Palm TX as remote for my Sony Bravia TV. Now, IR is shown as a novelty. So sad.

Same can be said about the Note with its stylus, which at one time was standard equipment for any smartphone.

Not mentioned in the video or text, does the ir component work both ways? In other words, can the phone learn codes from off-brand equipment?

Probably no...    I think it's a great feature but I will be surprised to find it robust enough for me to want to ditch my Harmony remote in favor of using it.

Hence the reason it was probably left discrete.

I had an old monchrome Philips Presto about 10 years ago. The thing linked into to the PC via a serial cable and was somewhat of a pain to program. That said, it did have learning functionality and was rather usable; even with it's resistive touchscreen, pixelated display, and ergonomically deficient composition.

Some of the Harmonys, 600 and up, have the learning functionality built in. However, the ergonomics are still pretty awful. Additionally, the overcluttered feeling of 50 buttons on a 12" by 2" surface is another deterrent.

The ability of laying out your own set of buttons on a 5" screen piques my interest as something truly useful. Alas, due to the lack of APIs or customization within HTC's app, the technology is relegated to a gimmick which works for ultra basic users, and casts advanced users to the shore.

Sighs...

I have a Harmony 550, it's not quite as cluttered as some of the 600 series remotes.   I agree being able to set up your own configuration on a 5" touchscreen would be great and I looked into the Logitech Harmony Hub at one point to see if it could meet my needs.  However the hub only controls 8 devices and I'm pretty much right at that cap and can easily go over.

"it's not quite as cluttered"

Not quite, ay? Call me anally retentive, but I just counted the physical buttons on that model... 51, including the touchscreen's corresponding tactille controls. Even by 90's standards, that's overabundant.

 

LOL

Yes, I'm often fairly diplomatic and understating in my descriptions.  It's seen photos of the 650 and even though the button count is only three more than the 550 I massively prefer my 550's aesthetics in comparison.  That said the 550 is far from ideal and I prefer a clean and uncluttered control schema.

I'm about fed up with Nokia phones and there fetish with the color Cyan. Can wait until this phone comes to ATT. I will be switching. Ir Blaster. That is way cool!

I would love this on the lumia brand.  I just don't want to control my cable box, already have the xfinity TV remote app.  I want to to be able to control my TV, Home Theater and cable box.

 

 

Infrared control is so old school.  I don't have to picke up ANY device to control my TV because I use voice & gesture control with my Xbox One.  And, if I reall have to, I can fire up SmartGlass on my Lumia 1020 or my Surface Pro 3.  Why anyone gets excited over a tired feature like infrared is beyond me.

Perhaps because it fills a need, despite being "old school". Sex is old school too. You gonna give that up as well, champ?

It's not his choice whether to give it up, or not... Women have already decided in his disadvantage.......

Plzzzzzzz 1st concentrate on lumia phones leave dat htc windows phone coz it already hav cyan and many features 1st give cyan update fo lumia 525 and 820 etc etc 1st give updates and den consider new phones den d reviews and market will be improving wat we shld buy a new phn wen each update arrives ...
. Den 1st give the updates to the devices wch hav nt go the update after dat u can consider new models got it microsoft

Seeing how M8 with all its capabilities and fun, Nokia Lumia is really looking old.... very old..... Finally, we get to enjoy what Android users have been enjoying all these while...

I'm still in my contract for another six months, it'll be interesting if they start talking about windows 9 phones at that time. I would LOVE to have IR in my phone. I'm on the L920 with 8.1 and love it.

I haven't managed to successfully set it up yet. I can do basic tv stuff (volume, on/off) but once its a directv function (channel, guide etc) it doesn't work :(

Nice to see another high end phone with some unique features..

You never know what people will like most as an added feature.

If the app is really fast at resuming, yeah, I would use it. But I know nothing about the performance of the app. Typically WP it would be some loading time (there is ALWAYS the bloody loading on WP) and then it becomes impractical. Stuff like this, to be used needs to be practical, or they end up like the Xbox 360 Media Remote, collecting dust.

I could do this on a Nokia 7650 over 10 years ago its only good for messing with the tv when someone trying to use the remote for laugh. Its just a gimmick.

An article showing off the remote control capabilities on the one m8 without showing the actual remote CONTROL capabilities. Just how to switch to a specific show using a sort of guide type menu. Does it have volume controls like HTC said the android version would have when announcing the phone? I wouldn't know cause that wasn't mentioned.

Posted via Windows Phone Central App

My actual Harmony remote does this better, with the exception of the guide. Even though I could use this sort of thing on smartglas or surface, I don't. I ALWAYS have my phone and surface locked, so that means every time I want to change the channel or volume I have to put in the code. And even though I use the remote a lot, the Harmony battery lasts about a week. I end up using the remote for everything except the guide. For that I use the Xbox controller. MAYBE if I had a dedicated surface that didn't have to be unlocked, I would use that. But I can't see using the phone even though it is a cute idea.

my Harmony batteries lasts for months!   But overall I agree that it is unlikely that I would use the IR blaster feature much when my Harmony controls pretty much every piece of equipment I own.

Yeah, where I come from dudes that talk to their TVs and flail their arms around to change the channel don't exactly have much luck with the ladies, LOL, but they can feel good about their nerd prowess so maybe it evens out? Just wondering out loud...

Yeah, this is a great feature, one which I wish my Nokia has. If only we could get ask the Nokia apps on the M8, I would go for it in a second. But I need the Refocus and Drive apps more than a TV remote.

Like taking a step back in time. My old Windows mobile phone had this feature years ago. I would definitely use it if I had it on a phone today. Glad to see it come back. Hope other manufacturers start including this again.

Must have a HTC One M8 for Windows! The best ever. Remote it's awesome. Finally a Windows phone on parity with the rest of the world. Welcome to the 21st century Windows Phone.

I already do. Have a D7000 Smart TV Samsung and use the Unofficial Samsung Remote to control it over WiFi and SmartGlass for the Xbox (WMC) only thing this would afford me is speed (SG takes FOREVER to load) and being able to turn them on.

I the only one who wouldn't use this instead of a regualr remote seeing as how we still have god awful app resume times? Nevermind I can just say something to my XB1 and have it done too, but I am in the minority with having one. 

Yes I would, why not it's easier than having to hunt down a lost in the furniture remote control or if one of the kids misplaces the remote control.

Posted via the Windows Phone Central App for Android

I have got a lumia 930 and just downloaded a samsung remote app for my tv and it works great. It works through your wifi network so Im guessing its dlna. Anyway it works without delays, the only downside is it doesnt work with tvboxes since most of them dont support the wifi protocol. But it works a lot better than infrared since there's no need the aim like with an archaic irblaster. Now we just need tvboxes to support the protocol!!