Using the Palm TX as an iTunes Remote
Although I've posted here numerous times about the lack of a display-capable remote for iTunes, Apple has not answered my wishes. It would be so easy for Apple to create a display-based flash-RAM remote for directing your desktop Mac to play iTunes songs of your choice through the Airport Express connection to your stereo. For some reason, this isn't yet in their interest. They'd rather sell you a new iMac with FrontRow and a display-less remote.
In fact, by releasing the new video iPod without the remote connector (new video iPods only support third party add-ons through dock-connectors), Apple derailed Griffin's plans to begin shipping the BlueTrip - a device that essentially makes the iPod a Bluetooth-based wireless music delivery system - a remote equivalent. (Griffin may soon release a dock-connector version of the Blue Trip).
With the release of the Palm TX, I felt comfortable that PDA-based WiFi had evolved enough as a VNC-capable device. So, I installed RedStone's VNC server and tried it out with my PowerBook as a stand-in remote. The VNC server had improved since I last tried it...so I went out and bought the Palm TX. (You can set the VNC server to run at startup, so it's always-on.)
On the TX, I installed PalmVNC, a $10 Euro shareware Palm-based VNC client. The TX is very quick about connecting to a wireless network. For the most part, it works quite well. Here are a couple of pictures of the TX controlling iTunes as a remote.
For quickly finding and changing songs playing from my upstairs Mac on my downstairs stereo, it's pretty efficient...about 5-7 seconds. The size of the display in 1:1 mode is workable for most anyone; in 1:2 it's very small but functional for those with strong motor skills. The five way button on the TX actually scrolls the VNC window which helps a lot.
I ran into one problem in that the PalmVNC client didn't seem to let me switch back to other applications without a Palm-reset, even after I'd selected the music I wanted and disconnected from the VNC server. I later found that you had to click Disconnect, then go to the Connect page in order to switch applications. A little silly, but a minor inconvenience. If you download PalmVNC, pay attention to that or you'll get quite frustrated.
In the process of looking for other solutions, I found Dead End Software's Web Remote. It also seems to work well. It's basically an always-on application that hosts a Web-site you can browse to via wifi on your Palm. The web-application controls iTunes via AppleScript. It's $10 U.S. shareware. It also has various skins.
Here are some screenshots:
WebRemote works pretty well but requires a page refresh for every navigation movement in iTunes. For now, I'm sticking with the VNC solution as it's turned out pretty well. It's faster and allows me to view more of iTunes on the screen at once.
I wouldn't have gone with the TX if I didn't have other reasons for buying it. I'll be writing more soon here about why I decided to switch from my Treo 600 to the divergent solution of a Palm TX and a soon to arrive Motorola Bluetooth phone. In large part, it's due to the various corporate partnerships that are more and more limiting innovation and hurting consumers ala the 100 songs in the iTunes-ROKR. More on this later.
If you want an iTunes remote where money is no object, try Sonos or just buy the new iMac. In the meantime, let's hope someone at Apple decides to ship a real iTunes remote for the Airport Express.
Oh yeah - my Mute Remote EyeTV
It's not really that useful. Frame rate is too slow over WiFi and no audio...