Review: Salling Clicker
Bluetooth is a technology that has taken awhile to mature. Years ago, it was promised to make life better by having devices talk to each other. Apple has done the best job of enabling this, thanks to iSync and the other Bluetooth tools, but there hasn’t been too many devices that played nicely with the Mac.
Then Sony Ericsson introduced the T68 series of phones—these phones had Bluetooth, synchronized with iSync entirely, and led to others to come up with a “what if” approach to creating additional uses for these phones. Of course, the T68 is now a dinosaur of sorts, but the idea of expanding uses of a Bluetooth device has lived on in Salling Clicker, a piece of software that lets you turn many Bluetooth devices into remotes. Versions are available for Mac and Windows, although this review will cover the Mac version.
Salling Clicker on a Sony Ericsson T616
Some will ask what the point of spending $24 for a program that turns a phone or PDA into a remote for their computer when they could just use a standalone device. First, this is very cheap compared to Bluetooth remotes, or even proprietary RF remotes. Furthermore, it is much more customizable, thanks to its ability to work with AppleScript. Because of this, you can control just about any program on your Mac.
Although it might seem a bit strange to use your phone or PDA to control your Mac at first, it makes a bit of sense. After all, many high-end, customizable remote controls have color LCDs, but are still infrared. Another advantage is that you’ll be using a device that you are rather familiar with—of course this could also be a bad thing if you’d rather throw your mobile phone off of a bridge.
The software installs a simple Preference Pane that is relatively easy to use. Once you pair it with a compatible device, an icon in the menu bar will display the connected device. As my phone is a Sony Ericsson T616, I wasn’t able to try out the graphical aspects of the client-side of things, but I still could perform basic functions. The main tab of the Preference Pane allows you to pick what items appear on your device’s menus. Some preset items include controls for iTunes, iPhoto, EyeTV, PowerPoint, Mail, DVD Player, QuickTime Player, VLC, and much more. Additional items can be added via AppleScript.
The second tab offers the way your Mac should react to phone events. The list has quite a bit of a range, including muting audio when the phone is being used for phone functions, or setting iChat AV’s status to away during calls.
Additional options allow you to keep the device connected at all times or to disconnect after a certain timeout period and customize how the device is paired with the computer.
In our use, the software performed flawlessly. When the phone was used to control things, a grey bezel appeared on the Mac’s screen to indicate changes in volume, skipping ahead or back, or any other changes. On the phone, the display changed almost instantly to reflect what was being done on the computer. For example, iTunes playback information was updated as we switched from song to song.
Furthermore, the software is smart enough to know when something is not open. Rather than make you go back over to your computer, you can launch programs directly from the mobile device. In iTunes, EyeTV, iPhoto, and other programs, you can find an exact item to play thanks to Salling Clicker displaying exact playlists and items and allowing you to navigate through them (very similar to the way the iPod menu system works).
Although Salling Clicker shines for entertainment use, it also has a business side. PowerPoint and Keynote presentations can be controlled with Salling Clicker, as can the actual mouse cursor. Since most devices have more buttons than the average remote (if you include directional pads/joysticks), you are offered more than just the basic back/forward/volume controls.
Finally, another use for Salling Clicker is being able to control iTunes with an AirPort Express throughout your house. Although routing music wirelessly throughout a home is simple, having to run back to the computer to change playlists or songs is somewhat of a step backwards. It should also be worth noting that Salling Clicker can even be used when a passworded screen saver is on.
Salling Clicker is a clever, innovative piece of software and doesn’t cost too much to give you something else to do with your mobile phone or PDA. This combination of reusing existing equipment, excellent customizability, and a low price makes Salling Clicker a winner in our books.
The One-Sentence Verdict™
Salling Clicker does a fine job of making your Bluetooth-enabled mobile phone or PDA do things you never thought it could.
Pros: Controls many different programs, works with over 100 devices, Universal Binary beta out now, cheaper than Bluetooth or even RF remotes
Cons: None significant