The living room electronics convergence that was promised back in the late 1990s has finally started to materialize. Home theater devices are increasingly Internet connected, making people more dependent on them for basic Web applications and to search for content streaming. Instead of accessing all that with a keyboard and mouse or a laptop, they will likely be controlling it all with touch-screen Internet devices like the iPod Touch, Android phones, the iPad, and any number of other phone or tablet yet to be seen. They allow for easy surfing and, most importantly, they lend themselves well to being living-room TV companions. Applications and hardware add-ons are being made available for devices like the iPhone and Android phones. One of them, the RedEye Mini ($49), plugs into a phone’s headphone jack and blasts infrared signals at a home theater, allowing the user to set up commands for watching TV, listening to music, or setting the DVR to record a show. Cable and satellite companies have jumped into the app fray, providing ways to set recordings remotely, browse TV listings, and, in some cases, watch TV shows live or streamed from the DVR. Comcast recently showed off a demo of an iPad app that will also work directly as a remote to control a cable box. Samsung, Pioneer, and Sony have also introduced apps this year that allow users to control devices like HDTVs and Blu-ray players as long as they’re on the same wireless network as the phone. The phone is far more powerful than a remote control, and in the case of tablets like the iPad, extra information can be obtained on the screen alongside the virtual buttons of an on-screen remote. People might get served bonus video clips, background info, access to chat rooms, and Facebook updates right alongside the remote app. The tablet or phone won’t just turn on the television, it will also show energy consumption, turn off the lights upstairs, and allow users to adjust the air conditioning from the recliner. | Read More