Developer: Metabeam Corporation
Price: $0.99 Download on the App Store
Metabeam's Metamenu Remote for DVDs does two things, both of them well, but determining if the app is right for you mainly depends on whether you want to watch DVDs on your desktop, as well as the DVD player software you have.
First, it's a DVD database. Enter the name of a DVD and the app will fetch content from Metabeam's site and download details such as a synopsis, when the movie was filmed, the cast featured in the film, a list of similar films and more.
It's informative and it works very well. On the other hand, the App Store has a few other apps that will do pretty much the same free or for less than the $3.99 Metamenu Remote will cost you.
The second thing Metamenu Remote does is turn your iPhone/iPod touch into a wireless remote control for your DVD player. Here's the catch: You can only control DVDs playing on a Mac OS or Windows box that is accessible over the Internet. In other words, it won't control the Sony, Panasonic or whatever DVD player you have in your living room.
Here's how it works. Sign up for Metabeam's free remote service and download the free software for your desktop box. More about that in a minute.
Install the software, launch Metamenu Remote on your iPhone, enter a code and soon you'll be controlling your DVD player with the same functionality as any DVD remote with a few extras such as the capability of bypassing on-screen menus. You can even email a friend the title of the DVD you're watching.
Now, what about the software? If you have a Mac and DVD player software, no worries. Everything runs pretty much out of the box.
If you have a Windows PC, you'll need to run Internet Explorer and InterActual Player (the player must be installed but it does not have to run). Even then, this combo might not be enough.
If your currently installed DVD player software and decoders are not InterActual compatible, you'll need to upgrade. The four software players the company recommends on its Web site are paid apps, which start at $15.
The good news is that you won't have to buy Metamenu Remote to find out whether this setup will work on your PC. Install InterActual Player and run it. If you see the company's logo on your PC screen, you're good.
If I were running a home theater PC attached to my TV set, I would find an app like this useful. However, when I watch DVDs on my desktop, I'm usually sitting in front of my machine and doing some other computer things at the same time. You probably do too.