JRemote For JRiver Media Center
JRemote is currently an iOS only application available through the iTunes App Store for a meager price of $9.99. A single version of the app operates on both the iPhone and iPad eliminating the need to purchase separate apps for different sized devices. The newest version of JRemote takes advantage of the iPhone 5 larger screen rather than being letterboxed like most other apps. The app also requires JRiver Media Center. It wasn't designed as a jack of all trades with compromises to support every playback platform under the sun. Unlike some remote applications JRemote doesn't require any additional software installation on the Windows music server. This cuts down on added services or programs running in the background and eliminates one more piece of software that requires updating.
The speed of the JRemote interface on both iPhone and iPad is the best part about the application. The initial release of JRemote was fast but had an issue when scrolling through a library viewing the album art. The images wouldn't load until the scrolling stopped. Fortunately that was fixed long ago. Scrolling through a library with the swipe of a finger is very fast even with the images loading as one scrolls up or down. Nothing annoys me more than a slow application that can't keep pace with my scrolling speed. When I want to find an album I want to find it the way I want to find it. Scrolling through 4,000 album covers may not be the most efficient, but a good remote app should enable users to navigate any which way. JRemote succeeds in this area where others fail. The PlugPlayer and My River applications don't even come close to matching the speed of JRemote. In fact upon opening PlugPlayer one's entire library isn't visible until the app loads it in cache. Thus, it's impossible to scroll beyond the letter C in my collection without waiting a minute or two. Using JRemote I don't think about the technology or the application. I only think about my music. I may have an idea what album I'm looking for but the ease with which I can navigate via JRemote enables me to stumble upon many other recordings. I frequently forget what album I was originally seeking.
JRemote's speed is also wonderful when searching a library. My library of over 50,000 tracks can be searched instantly within JRemote. Typing in my favorite band Pearl Jam instantly returns a list separated into categories identified by metadata. Standard groups such as Artist, Album Artist, Album, and Genre/Style are visible in addition to groupings by Catalog Number, UPC Code, Composer, Publisher, and Period. Again, the speed at which the search results are returned is critical and what separates mediocre apps from gray apps. Without speed I simply won't use a search feature. JRemote excels at search speed.
After the search results are returned users have a number of options. In my search for Pearl Jam I found the special yellow edition of the album Ten. Pressing and holding the name of the album for a second reveals a popup menu containing the options Play all now, Play all next, Add all to playlist, Shuffle and play all, Clear playlist, and cancel. If pressing and holding and album or track or artists is too time consuming for a user JRemote has what I call a quickset menu at the top of the window when viewing the contents of an album. This menu provides users nearly all the previous press and hold options, but the option selected in this menu becomes the default behavior of a single press of the finger. For example, my quickset menu is set to Add all to playlist. Whenever I select a track within an album all tracks are added to the playlist. If I change the default quickset option to Play now the single track I select will immediately play in Jriver. Setting the preferred option in this quickset menu can shave a few seconds off one's music selection time. Over the course of a few decades that can really add up :~)
A recent change to JRemote added the letter of the alphabet to the right side of the screen when viewing artists, albums, etc… This feature has long been visible on the iPhone and is much appreciated on the iPad. Pressing a letter of the alphabet displays the albums starting with that letter. That's pretty obvious. I like to browse my collection so I usually press the letter A and swipe my finger down the alphabet until I either find something interesting or get to where I was originally going. Swiping through the alphabet is quick but still provides a glimpse of the albums as they fly up or down on the screen.
JRemote can also take advantage of JRiver Media Center's multi zone playback and control. Every music server running JRiver Media Center can be viewed as a Zone form within JRiver and JRemote. JRiver allows the user to control different Zones form a single interface while sitting at a computer. JRemote allows the user to control every Zone from the iPad or iPhone. Taping a little computer icon in the bottom left corner of the JRemote window brings up the Select Zone popup. The user simply selects the Zone he'd like to control. As long as it's on the network it's controllable. In addition to controlling a Zone JRemote turns the iDevice into a Zone allowing the user to stream unto 320 Kbps MP3 files directly to the device. I use this frequently at home when I don't have a lossless version of an album stored on my iPhone I use JRemote to stream the MP3 right to the phone. Other apps such as PlugPlayer and My River can do this as well, but again it all comes down to speed. JRemote is much faster than all the competition. Hands down.
One feature I haven't used simply because I don't have a monitor connected to my C.A.P.S. server is the Remote touch screen within JRemote. This may come in very handy for users displaying JRiver's Theater View. The ability to have a touchscreen without really having a touchscreen (if you know what I mean) seems very cool. I imagine projecting Theater View on to a large screen between my speakers and being able to navigate like it's a touchscreen using JRemote would be very cool.
You Can't Please Everyone All The Time
JRemote the iOS remote for JRiver Media Center isn't perfect. The app is extremely stable and does exactly what Banjo Media claims. There are four items I would love to see added or improved to JRemote. Granted Banjo Media is at the mercy of JRiver as to what can be done within the JRemote app (read only), but I will at least state my wished for improvements.
- Documentation - There is little no documentation describing the features of JRemote or how to use the app. 99% of the app is self explanatory and most people don't read documentation anyway. However, a quick guide or even video explaining items such as what I call the quickset menu. Is there a real name for the menu? Is it supposed to work how it's working for me? The trial and error method is fine for most people, but a little assistance wouldn't hurt the newbies.
- Searching specific metadata fields - I would like the ability to search in the comments field or to search only track titles for a specific word or string of words. I frequently enter data such as Mastering Engineer or Downloaded From … in the comments field of an album. Searching for this info and only this info would be a very nice feature. Searching only track titles would be really nice although I realize it's possible to simply view the search results by the track title grouping.
- Editing Metadata - I would love the ability to edit metadata directly from JRemote. I frequently scroll through albums with misspelled titles or without the proper Album Artist tag. I refuse to stop listening just to edit the tag from my computer. more often than not the tag never gets edited because i forget about the misspelling until I run into the issue all over again.
- Creating or Editing Playlists - Along the same lines as editing metadata is the ability to create and edit playlists from JRemote. It's inconvenient to do this from a computer once one has already started listening. Sure, if I'm sitting at my computer and I think of a playlist I want to create or edit it's not an issue. In the real world I'm willing to bet people are actually listening to music when they think of a good playlist to create or see one they want to edit. if all my playlist editing dreams came true JRemote would be able to do the holy grail of playlist editing. That is the ability for a user to listen to a track or find a track in the library and add that track to any existing or new playlist. For example, I have a playlist of music I use during equipment reviews. When I hear a new track I'd like to use for reviews I'd love the ability to select that track and add it to my Review Music playlist from within JRemote on my iPad.
JRemote from Banjo Media has done more than provide users a nice interface with which to navigate their music collections. It has elevated Windows based music servers to a much higher level. Now that Windows servers can be controlled with a better interface than any OS X server many hard core iTunes users are considering a switch to or even adding a Windows server with JRiver and JRemote. iTunes for many users was supposed to be all about simplicity. Upon closer examination this simplicity is far less convenient for those seeking higher quality playback. Not only is JRemote a much better remote control app than Apple's Remote app, but JRiver supports nearly all file formats and changes sample rates on the fly. That's not going to happen with a stock iTunes installation. Compared to it's competition of JRiver remote control applications JRemote is in another league. Great features, great speed, and the ability to get out of the way of users listening to music are hallmarks of JRemote. Banjo Media has set the bar high for JRiver remote apps and continues to raise the bar with every free update.
- Product - JRemote - The iOS remote for JRiver Media Center
- Price - $9.95
- Product Page - Link
- iTunes App Store - Link