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WinAmp Remote Control WinAmp Remote Control: Despite the name, this remote isn't solely for WinAmp. If you own a HTPC, or are looking to build one, a multimedia remote is a must have.

Date: October 27, 2003
Supplied By :
Written By:

Enthusiasts are often very resourceful and also generally ahead of the market when it comes to new ideas. Now the HTPC is no longer a new idea but it was in the beginning just a group of computer enthusiasts who made it popular long before manufacturers began catering hardware for this specific purpose. Lots of different hardware aimed for this HTPC generation has been popping up lately, and one thing that has been made popular by the likes of ATI, Sigma and others is a remote control for your PC. What we have here today is an infrared remote to be used with Winamp, but as you will come to see, with a little bit of surfing and an extra download it can be used for so much more.

In The Box

have sent us the Winamp Remote Control package which for the low price of you will get:

1x PacBell Fastmedia Remote (and documentation)
1x Serial port Receiver (and sticky pad for mounting)
1x Instruction Sheet
2 x batteries for the remote
1x Software (WinLIRC + Winamp Plugin)

The remote itself is designed for computer use and even features a cursor pad for mouse movement, and a right/left mouse button. Starting at the top of the remote we have 8 buttons showing that this was not designed with Winamp in mind, although it will happily function that way. The top 8 buttons are labelled for such things as Help, Phone, Message, Aux, CD etc, and so could easily be used for any purpose you see fit for them. Below this we find the cursor pad and at either side of this the mouse buttons.

Under the cursor pad we have Menu, Mute, Enter, Display, Vol + and -, Channel + and -. Finally in the bottom 1/3rd of the remote we find a standard numerical setup. All of the buttons are grey rubber and push down easily, and with the shapes of some of the buttons it shouldn't be too hard to learn them via tactile response over a short period of time.

The receiver connects to a Serial port and has a lead reaching about 1m; coupled with the sticky pad you can mount this as you see fit (I personally have it on top of my monitor). The receiver itself is very light so the included sticky pad is useful even when leaving the receiver free standing, just to make sure it doesn't get accidentally moved.

Following the instructions, I put the install CD in the drive and proceeded to install WinLIRC without issue on my Windows XP machine. Installing the plugin for Winamp is as easy as copying the correct .dll to the plugins folder of your Winamp install. I've personally used Winamp 2.xx, Winamp 3, and an alpha of Winamp 5 without any problems; all of them are happy to interface with the remote.

Setting up the remote/receiver is pretty much done for you at the Windows hardware level, it's an install it and forget it affair, and the instructions take you though this should you have any issues. Setup for Winamp itself takes a bit longer, but is again very easy. Just select the Winamp remote plugin from the list, and assign a button to an event via the pull down menu.

also include a registry file which has some of the buttons laid out for you, which after double clicking and entering the information allows you to use the remote without having to set anything up; I would advise going to the trouble of setting things up for yourself though.

Since the remote is not designed with Winamp in mind and not labelled with buttons such as play/pause or stop for example, you will want to customize the buttons as you see fit, which is very easily and quickly done. Once up and running you can play, pause, stop, lower and raise the volume, change tracks, pretty much all the basic functions of your everyday stereo. I want to point out here that the remote's mouse cursor pad will NOT control the mouse functions with the supplied software, but read on, their is a way around this.

Now from an HTPC point of view, currently the remotes functions are limited, but after a quick surf on the net, I found out about . Girder is free for non-commercial use and allows you to setup events related to specific buttons on your remote to any event that may happen on your PC. For example, I have the CD button set to open/close Winamp with the other buttons on the remote for control of Winamp. Ok nothing new there, but I can also, through Girder, use the Aux1 button to open/close WinDVD and use the other buttons for control of WinDVD in the same manner you would a stand alone DVD player.

Currently I have remote control for Winamp, WinDVD, WinDVR, Windows Media Player 9, the Mouse (via the cursor pad), so basically anything you can think of to control, you can. Hell I turn my monitor off with the remote now, which for a bedroom PC this is quite a handy prospect before sleep (no more waiting for Windows to shut it off after 10 minutes). Girder does take a bit more setting up, but with it's plugins and exported user settings for various programs I think that anyone should be able to get the Winamp Remote from and setup how they wish, allowing you almost full control of your PC from the comfort of your armchair.

Final Words

This is certainly a nice addition for the lazy man or those with home built media PC's, allowing you to control Winamp from afar in the same way you would any stereo. The remote itself isn't designed for this purpose exclusively but works well enough, although not being designed with this purpose does mean the layout could be better. It also means that the remote has potential for extra functionality.

The hardware and software setup is a piece of cake; I have no doubt you would be up and running within minutes. sell this remote complete with everything you need for only $10.99 which makes this an excellent and cheap gadget, but its real beauty is realised when coupled with and its extensive control possibilities for your whole system. Girder is a free download, and they have a plugin to work directly with WinLIRC, so it's just a matter of removing the Winamp plugin and setting Girder up to perform the functions for you.

Pros: Remote control for Winamp, Works with multiple versions of Winamp and Windows, Remote layout facilitates tactile learning of main controls, Remote has a Mouse Cursor pad, Coupled with Girder can be used for more than just Winamp

Cons: Serial connection – USB would be better in this day and age, Remote not designed for Winamp control exclusively, Remote's Mouse Cursor pad not supported with the supplied software for mouse control

Bottom Line: Whilst the remote isn't designed for Winamp, it will facilitate remote control of Winamp in an easy manner akin to that of any basic stereo. Whilst the design not being exclusively for Winamp is a disadvantage, this can be turned around in allowing you to use the remote for multiple programs through Girder. If you have any questions or comments, be sure to hit us up in the Forums.


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