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Hello All,


I see there was a post on this before but it was originally from 2014.


Has anyone had experience with getting a TV set up so that it can be controlled entirely remotely? I'm interested in getting this done for my Grandma who can no longer figure out how to operate hers by herself (we have a remote with large buttons, she's constantly dropping it where she can't reach, trying to operate it backwards, her hospice bed kind of blocks the signal, etc...).


She doesn't have WiFi currently as she's never needed it, but I'd have it set up if it could solve this problem. I would get a WiFi hotspot as a temporary solution, but I'm assuming the streaming services would eat up the data allowance on those pretty quickly. That said, I've never used one so maybe it's an option.


I feel like there has to be a way if I got her internet access and a Roku or Amazon Fire to turn her TV into a "smart" one, but I don't know if that would allow me to actually see the TV to know what I'm doing?


Also, only vaguely related, does anyone have a Portal type device set up so that they can easily video chat with their parent/loved one without them having to do anything to answer? Basically I can just connect on my end and we can see each other?


Any advice would be welcomed!!

Here is the main problem with controlling a television remotely from an outside location - you have to have a point of access to get 'inside' in order to control the device. If you have internet at home, your ability to see and control anything in your house requires everyone to be on the same local home network. Your neighbor next door has internet too but you can't control anything they have inside because they have a different local home network. You can add home automation to your house, like Amazon's Echo, and control a TV with your voice, but you can only control the TV's in your home and not the TV's at your neighbors. In order to control their TV, everyone has to have access to the same local home network.

Even if you get your grandma internet access, you still won't be able to get into her devices for that reason, her local home network (granny-online) will be different than your local home network (frustrated-granddaughter). So you have to find a way 'in'. My solution involves setting up an actual computer at her location, enabling something called Remote Desktop on the computer, purchasing an 'address' (IP Address) that can be advertised on the internet, and finally subscribing to a service where you can advertise that address which then points to the computer you set up on the granny-online network.

Once you do all that, you have to login into that computer you set up and try to hack into the smart TV, Roku device or Amazon Fire TV that will also be needed in her room to pick what she wants to watch (there is a semi-shortcut, I'll describe that next). The reason I say hack is because smart TV's and media devices like Roku and Fire TV don't offer remote access into them as an easily selectable option - it would be a huge security flaw. So now we're moving from the realm of possible but expensive to above my pay grade (my son could probably do it).

However, for someone who is determined and has the money to accomplish this, I know a way to do it (instructions are a summary and simplistic-you would want to hire a local tech). It requires connecting the computer in granny's room to the TV like a computer monitor (you might have to buy a TV, some facilities have televisions that are locked down and won't allow access to external devices plugged in, been there done that). Ideally the facility allows you to have a full internet connection installed and someone like Xfinity comes in with a gateway that you can control and configure. If they won't, the rest of this gets very difficult.

If you get your own gateway installed that you control, then you can use the aforementioned remote desktop option from your home computer, enter the IP address you purchased and advertised via the service on the internet and you login to granny's computer. You open a browser (Internet Explorer, Chrome, Firefox or Edge) and subscribe to a streaming service (Sling TV is an example to get live TV. Amazon Prime offers movies and other subscription services). So if granny wants to watch The Sopranos which at last check was streaming for free on Amazon Prime, you go to www.amazon.com, login with your prime account, go to Prime Video, click on The Soprano's, episode one and voila! You've just controlled granny's television access.

I've been working in IT for 20 years. I'm very good at Windows and pretty decent with networking. There are probably other ways to do this and I would love it if someone younger than me (I'm 60) who lives in another technical bubble would chime in and call me an IT dinosaur with a better, cheaper way to do it. However, the limitations of getting inside a network that is different than the one you have at home along with controlling a device remotely will continue to get in the way because of security considerations. Who wants someone easily taking over granny's Roku and running porn all night?
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Reply to Texangal81
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I had our Smart TV 2 yrs when my daughter said "don't u have internet access". I said "I think so, it said something in the instruction book" She then set everything up and downloaded the Netflix app.

There is probably all kinds of things they do, I just never explored.
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Reply to JoAnn29
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Granddaughter, I kinda interested in answers to this, too. There are some pretty techie peeps on this site so hoping they will respond.
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Reply to Geaton777
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I found this article by googling. A smart tv can be very inexpensive.

https://www.androidauthority.com/best-tv-remote-apps-for-android-607846/

I can start my dishwasher remotely, this must be available for tv's too. Be careful of long term internet contracts. If in grandma's name the contract would be cancelled when she passes.
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Reply to gladimhere
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