- Relatively easy to build
- Emulates a keyboard, so it needs no driver
- Costs around 10 €
- Is easy to configure, in under one minute
- Works with most remote controls
- Can easily be customised for other HTPC software
I was always very fascinated with Objective Development's software implementation of a USB driver for Atmel controllers called V-USB. On their web site, they have a nice list of really interesting projects using this driver.
There are a few projects that translate IR remote control signals into USB HID key strokes. This has one huge advantage: You don't need any driver or software on the PC. I had use for this, since I am using a PC with MythTV to watch TV. The standard means to control it is an IR remote with LIRC.
But with LIRC I had some mixed results . It is quite a universal and versatile tool. This means you need to do a lot of configuring. You have to edit several files and it is not straightforward. And the teaching phase has always been trial and error for me.
With a microcontroller decoding the IR protocol, one part of the bothersome configuration is eliminated. And the second part can be relatively easy, as only a simple IR to key stroke assignment is needed.