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Control your TV over the Internet

This page looks at a few products and services that let you take remote control of your home TV over the Internet.

Control over the Internet?

Why would you want to be able to take control of your TV over the Internet? Well, here are a few reasons why this might appeal:

  • You can watch your favourite TV channels while away from home - on holiday, travelling or at work
  • You can use the Internet to connect to your home system and set up a TV show to be recorded - taking control of your digital recorder, video or DVD recorder.

There are now a few different ways of being able to take remote control of your home TV viewing and recording, which we've discussed in recent shows. This page provides an overview of some of those solutions:


This solution involves connecting a piece of hardware, the Slingbox, to both your TV system and your broadband connection. From an Internet-enabled PC or Mac (also some Pocket PCs and smartphones), you can connect to your Slingbox and take control of your TV and digital recorder. This means that you can send remote control commands to, say, your Sky+ or Freeview PVR, and set it to record a show.

You can log in later, and watch the show, streamed over the Internet. You can also watch live TV over the net. The UK version of Slingbox also includes a digital tuner that can get around 40 channels of Freeview TV.

The Slingbox player in action
Using a Slingbox to watch home TV online

Slingbox is a rather elegant solution, supports a number of different connectivity options, and does a good job of streaming video over the 'net.

For more details on this solution, please see our Slingbox page


Many of us now have a TV card in our PC, or a TV USB box connected to our PC that lets us watch or record TV onto a PC's hard disk. A number of the more recent TV cards are now supported by the Orb service. Orb provides a small application that sits on your PC, and acts as a TV server, allowing you to connect in to your PC over the Internet, browse an electronic programme guide, and set shows to be recorded. You can also stream live TV or programmes that you recorded on your PC earlier, over the Internet to another PC, or even to an Internet-enabled PDA. 

Using Orb
Watching home TV using Windows Media Player and Orb

Orb runs on most Pocket PCs, Symbian smartphones and the Treo W, and can also be used to access MP3 audio as well as your photo collection, directly from your PC remotely.

Getting Orb

TVAnywhereThe Orb software itself is free, and is downloadable from - Note that there's a special version available for the UK. The standard version makes use of a US TV listings service, which isn't much use for those of us in the UK.

Although the software is free, you do need a compatible TV receiver for your PC. In the UK, the PC TV receiver manufacturer has bundled Orb together with a USB PVR USB2 TV receiver, under the name TV Anywhere. At the time of writing, this was priced at £99 from PC World online.



Those of us in the UK with a Sky Digital TV subscription now find that they can program their Sky+ digital recorder remotely. This effectively allow you to set a show to record wherever you are. This is great for those situations where you see a show advertised, but you're not at home to set the machine to record. To use Sky Remote, you need to register via Sky Active on your TV, or via Once registered, there are three ways to use the service:

Remote control for Sky+1. Mobile Phone Application: For a small collection of mobile phones, a Java application is now available free to Sky customers that provides online access to the entire Sky Electronic Programme Guide. You can browse seven days of listings, and if there's a show you like, press the 'Record' button. This sends a command to Sky's control centre, and they send an over-the-air command to add the show to your Sky+ programme guide.

2. Sky Remote by Text: For those without a Symbian smartphone, a text message service is available. Again, you need to register. When registered, you can send a text to Sky on 61759 , and enter details of what you want to record, using the following format:

Programme. Channel. dd/mm. hh:mm

... and Sky will send out an over-air command to get the event added to your EPG. Confirmed recordings cost 25p.

3. Sky Remote by Web: Sky made their Web version available at the end of February 2007. To add items to your EPG via a web browser, see Sky Remote Record.

More details of Sky+ and Sky Remote at


TV Remote controls

One For All URC7781One of our site visitors asked us if we knew of a way to get a digital TV set-top box to switch channels at a set time each day, to support recording.

Some boxes support this as standard, but for those that don't, we found one solution. One For All make a range of Universal Remote Control handsets, and some of these support "Timed Macros", where you can set the remote to send infrared commands at a set time.

The model we've found, the One For All URC-7781 can handle 12 devices and has an onboard clock for sending timed remote control commands.

The One For All URC7781 is available from Argos and Tesco Direct


Other links

  • Dusky Control - Serial and USB controllers to allow you to take control of Sky and Sky+ from your PC
  • The Wand - Cool remote control that lets your change TV channels with a flick of your wrist
  • Digital TV - Information on digital TV in the UK


Got a question on controlling your AV over the 'net, that we can answer in our next podcast?
Call 020 8133 4567 or send us a message

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