Why is volume control from an Android device so difficult?

2013-11-26 17:00

As far as controlling volume from an Android phone or tablet goes, there are technical hurdles to overcome.  It basically comes down to two technologies: IR (InfraRed) and network control.

IR has been around for a long time and is how most TVs and AVRs are controlled using the remote that came with it.  The problem is that most Android devices cannot send IR signals (although a small handful do).  So your other option is network control.  The problem there is that unless you have a fairly new TV that can be networked (and controlled over a network), you're out of luck.

Fortunately there is a device available that connects to your network and can send IR signals.  For many people, this may be your best option.  More on that below.

Many people have assumed they should be able to control volume since the app can control their DirecTV receivers.  The receivers are controlled over your NETWORK, unless you happen to have a Samsung or HTC and are using the IR option to control your DirecTV receivers.  Since there are only a limited number of DirecTV receiver models and more and more these days are connected to your network, this makes your chances of having the correct DirecTV equipment pretty decent.  By contrast, there are many brands of televisions and most of them cannot be controlled over a network.

So what it comes down to is this.  In order to control volume from your Android phone or tablet, you need to meet one of the following requirements:

  • An Android phone/tablet with a built-in IR blaster such as select Samsung, HTC, LG and Sony devices.  (See supported devices)
  • A somewhat newer model TV that is capable of being networked, is connected to your network, is capable of being controlled over a network, and is supported in the plugin.  (See supported devices)
  • A network-to-IR device such as the Global Cache iTach.  For many people this may be your cheapest option.  It is certainly cheaper than a new TV and is likely cheaper than upgrading your phone or tablet.  While it will cost you some extra money (the WiFi version runs approximately $130-$150), it will work for anyone with any TV or AVR and any Android phone or tablet.
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