After not tinkering with my Raspberry Pi for a little while I thought it was time to fire it up again and see what interesting things I could do with it. I thought it was a good idea to wipe it clean and put the latest version of Raspbmc on it. I would have let it do the upgrade itself but my bad habit of pulling the plug on the Pi rather than shutting it down (click here on how to shutdown Raspbmc properly).
Anyway, I had some banter on the Insider Crew forum about similar devices and offerings and we got into the topic of remote controls. I had an old Windows Media Centre remote control lying around which would have worked fine whilst using up one of the two on board USB sockets. Not a big deal but I fancied having as few devices connected to the Pi as possible.
As luck would have it I discovered that the most recent build of Raspbmc, Raspian and OpenELEC actually support Consumer Electronics Control (CEC) over HDMI. This means that you can use your standard television remote to control the media centre interface without a keyboard or mouse. I tested this with Raspbmc and it worked a treat without any additional configuration but if you are upgrading from an older version you may need to enable the option in the settings. Also, some televisions may require that you enable CEC in their settings as well.
The only drawback I have run into is attempting to type using a television remote. It’s been ages since I have had a Nokia 7110 and used the keypad to type out an SMS so either I need some more practice or a mini keyboard may in fact come in handy.