One of the first things I did eight years ago after converting my CD collection to MP3 files on my personal computer was to snake a cable from the PC to my stereo system in another room. The setup gave me the pleasure of piping music throughout my home.

But every time I wanted to change songs, I had to go to another room and make a few mouse clicks on my computer. Ever since then, I've been waiting for someone to come up with a good, affordable remote control that lets me change tunes no matter where I am in the house.

It turns out, I already owned that device. It's an iPod touch. A new program released by Apple in July was all it took to convert my MP3 player into a sophisticated remote control for my digital-music collection. That program, called simply Remote, runs on the iPhone as well as on the iPod touch, a version of the Apple MP3 player that has an iPhone-like touch-sensing screen and Internet-access capabilities using Wi-Fi wireless technology. Remote is available free of charge on the online App Store that Apple has used since July to distribute software for those devices.

In essence, Remote is a remote control for all music stored on a Mac or Windows PC that's loaded into iTunes, Apple's music jukebox software. It allows you to jump between playlists, browse artists and pump up the volume. For the program to work, you need to buy into using other Apple entertainment products.

In the simplest setup, Remote lets you control the music from stereo speakers connected directly to a PC. But it's most useful when you use a PC to deliver audio to additional speakers around a home -- say, a pair on the patio and in the living room.

Apple sells a couple of products that receive audio signals from a PC running iTunes. Both work wirelessly over a Wi-Fi home network so you don't need to put holes into your walls to run computer and speaker wires. I tested Remote using both. One is an Apple TV, a $229 set-top box in my living room that plays digital audio and video through a standard home-theater system. The other is an AirPort Express, a $99 Apple wireless networking device on my patio connected to a pair of powered A5 speakers made by Audioengine, of San Jose, Calif. A third set of speakers was connected to an iMac in the kitchen, where I store all of my digital music. (The least expensive iPod touch costs $299.)

It was a breeze to configure the Apple TV and AirPort Express to show up as remote speakers in iTunes on my computer. Setting up Remote to give me mobile control over this array of speakers was trickier. After installing the program on my iPod touch, I couldn't get it to work with iTunes on my PC. After 20 minutes of fiddling with the security settings for my Wi-Fi base station, iTunes finally recognized Remote. I was in business.

We all know how confusing the remote controls for TV sets and stereo systems can be. Remote, by contast, cleanly displays all the music on my PC on the color screen of my iPod touch.

The program let me flip through artists, albums and playlists with simple finger swipes. But I was sorry that Remote doesn't have a feature in the iPod touch called cover flow that lets users browse their music libraries by flipping through album-cover art. Apple says it may offer the feature in the future.

The software also let me easily turn on and off the music from my speakers in my kitchen, living room and patio. I could have all the speakers on at once -- good for a party. The sound was terrific. The crisp-sounding $349 Audioengine speakers don't require a stereo receiver.

Because Remote uses Wi-Fi to communicate with iTunes, I could control music anywhere around my house and backyard, which are small enough to be fully covered with a signal from my Wi-Fi base station. That's a big plus over conventional remote controls that use infrared, a technology that doesn't work through walls.

One drawback: The battery in my iPod touch drained overnight when I configured the device to stay connected to iTunes, a feature that increases software responsiveness. Changing the setting let me go days without recharging my iPod touch, but it meant I had to wait a couple of seconds for Remote to connect to iTunes when I started up the software -- an acceptable trade-off.

Another multiroom audio product with a good remote control is the ZonePlayer from Sonos, an equipment maker based in Santa Barbara, Calif. That system has some advantages over Apple's offerings, including the ability to access tunes from online music services, such as Pandora and Rhapsody, and separate volume controls for each set of speakers.

The Sonos system starts at $999 for a remote control and wireless receivers, without speakers, that can deliver music to two rooms.

For people who already own an iPod touch or iPhone, Remote is a good reason to buy an AirPort Express, and fill your home with music.



结果,我其实已经拥有了这样的设备。那就是iPod touch。要将我的MP3播放器变成可控制我的数字音乐库的复杂遥控装置,只需要装上苹果公司(Apple) 7月发布的一个新程序就够了。这款程序名字就叫Remote,可以在iPhone和iPod touch上运行。iPod touch是一款苹果MP3播放器,有跟iPhone一样的触摸感应屏,还可以利用Wi-Fi无线技术上网。Remote可以从App Store在线商店免费获得,苹果公司从7月起就利用App Store销售适用于这类装置的软件。



苹果公司销售两种可以从运行iTunes的电脑接收音频信号的产品。二者都可以通过Wi-Fi家庭网络无线连接,这样你就不用为了电脑和音箱布线而在墙上打洞。我用这两种产品测试了Remote。一个是Apple TV机顶盒,价格229美元,放在我的客厅里,通过一个标准的家庭影院系统播放数字音频和视频。另一个是苹果的无线网络装置AirPort Express,价格99美元,放在我的院子里,与一对Audioengine的A5有源音箱相连。还有一对音箱连到了厨房的iMac电脑上,那台电脑里存着我所有的音乐文件。(最便宜的iPod touch售价为299美元。)

将Apple TV和AirPort Express设置成我电脑上的iTunes软件的远程音箱只是小菜一碟。对Remote进行设置,让我可以随处控制这一大堆音箱则要难得多。将Remote程序安装到我的iPod touch上之后,我没法让它跟我电脑上的iTunes兼容。折腾了Wi-Fi基站的安全设置足足20分钟,iTunes终于识别了Remote。我成功了。

我们都知道电视机和音响系统的遥控器能复杂到什么程度。相比之下,Remote只是清清楚楚地将我电脑上的所有音乐显示在iPod touch的彩色屏幕上。

这个程序让我动动手指就能浏览艺术家、专辑和播放列表。可惜的是Remote没有iPod touch中的“封面浏览”(cover flow)功能,这个功能可以让用户通过浏览专辑封面来浏览他们的音乐库。苹果公司表示将来可能会提供该功能。

利用这个软件,我可以很方便地打开或关掉厨房、客厅以及院子里的音箱。我可以让所有的音箱同时打开──这在朋友聚会时会很棒。音响效果棒 了。音质明快的Audioengine音箱(价格349美元)不需要立体声接收器。


Remote的一大缺点是:我将iPod touch设置为保持与iTunes的连接,这个功能可以加快软件的响应速度,结果iPod touch的电池一夜之间就耗尽了。更改了设置后,iPod touch可以几天不用充电,但这就意味着当我启动Remote时,得等上几秒钟才能连接上iTunes──这种代价还算可以接受。



对于已经拥有iPod touch或iPhone的人来说,Remote是购买AirPort Express的一个很好的理由,它可以让音乐在整个家中奏响。