Customizing your home theater is a blast. But what do you do once you’ve already mounted that ultra-thin flat-screen, installed that nuclear speaker system, and hooked up the Blu-ray player that does everything but your taxes? Chances are, your wallet’s lost a few pounds by then; so if you’re not done optimizing your home theater experience, you’ll want a slightly cheaper alternative going forward.
Well, there’s an app for … you know the rest. Let’s try to get through an app-related article without using that particular cliché. That being said, home-theater applications have progressed far beyond the “Wow, I can use my phone as the remote” stage. Apps can now enhance your home theater experience in a ton of creative and useful ways. And the best part is, they usually won’t set you back more than a few bucks. Here’s a list of 9 apps that are great utilities for any home theater system.
Besides being a great conversation piece, the RunPee.com app is actually very useful. Look up whatever movie you’re watching and the app will identify several spots where the action lulls and you can sneak in a bathroom break without missing much. Granted, if you’re all alone there’s something called a pause button, but if you’re the owner of a swanky new home theater system, odds are you’ll be hosting a room full of moochers from time to time.
Home Theater Glossary ($0.99) for Android
This app is a simple glossary of home-theater keywords, with each defined in layman’s terms, rather than in techy talk. Whether you’re trying to educate yourself before making a major purchase, or you want to impress your friends with your technical lexicon, this app is for you.
Remember when you used to watch MTV Cribs and gawk as celebrities whipped out their home-controlling remotes? They’d turn on the lights, close the curtains, and fire up the flat-screen, all with a couple of taps on a touch screen. Nowadays, all you need for that kind of omnipotence is a smart phone and an empty bank account. Dijit’s free universal remote app, hooks up to home theater equipment and appliances alike, so you can control your home from the palm of your hand.
If an actor or actresses’ name is on the tip of your tongue and you’re wracking your brain trying to remember, fret not. You can pull up their life story in seconds with IMDB’s free app. You can also screen your movie choices by browsing user-ratings and message board chatter. What cinephile wouldn’t want a movie database at their fingertips?
Audiocalc & Videocalc ($3) for iOS
A duo of apps that essentially function as one, Audiocalc & Videocalc let you optimize your audio and video systems so that you hear every decibel and see every pixel properly. Whether you’re trying to assess your amp power, or figure out where to place your projector, these apps have you covered. At $3 apiece, it’s slightly cheaper than hiring an installer.
i.TV (free) for iOS
i.TV is one of the dozens of apps that offer mobile TV Guide services, but it simply does it much better than most. Its easy-on-the-eyes interface and streamlined usability are features that set it apart from the throng of apps looking to fill this particular niche. Oh, and its best feature of all? It’s free.
HTCables ($0.99) for iOS
Another education-based app, the job of HTCables is to guide novices through the process of optimizing their home-theater by choosing the right cables and connections. Cables are typically inexpensive, but choosing the wrong types can diminish your viewing experience. HTCables provides descriptions of most major A/V cables, lists of recommended devices for each, pictures of available products, and links to purchase them – all for just a buck.
Speaker Pop ($5) for iOS
Speaker pop is a palm-sized polarity tester that will let you know right away whether or not your speakers are wired correctly. The app is useful for both business and pleasure and works by listening for a “pop” sound from the speaker and running a subsequent DSP analysis. Yet another way to make sure you’re getting the most out of your A/V equipment.
DB ($1) for iOS
DB is one of the more basic entries on our list. It serves as a simple decibel meter, allowing you to calibrate your speaker levels manually. If you’re an avid enough Digital Trends reader, you know that we recommend manual calibration in our home theater speaker setup guide. As an added bonus, those of you who are true audiophiles can use the app to measure the relative loudness of sporting events, concerts, and various other cacophonous events.