As a result of Hat’s prompting I re-investigated an application called Remote Buddy. I’ve discovered that this program cleverly fixes the problems I was having: it enables me to use a single remote control for everything, instead of having multiple remotes; and it enables me to access everything I need remotely, without having to walk across the room to use the keyboard and mouse. Remote Buddy is slightly unintuitive to set up but fine once you get the hang of it, and it’s extremely powerful and configurable.
This solution is not quite as tidy as having a single application that does everything, as ideally I’d prefer not to ever see the Mac desktop at all when I’m doing things like watching TV and listening to music from the other side of the room, but that’s hardly the end of the world. And I’ve just discovered I can now control iTunes whilst I’m in the bath, which is particularly excellent.
It’s reassuring to know that I could get a Mac mini with plenty of storage and a TV tuner, connect it to a TV, and very effectively use it as a ‘media hub’ without having to buy additional hardware. Ultimately, though, I do wish that Apple would make this sort of thing easier, so that I don’t have to use a third-party solution to glue everything together in this way. The Apple TV just isn’t good enough currently because you can’t connect a TV tuner to it.