I got an IR receiver from Lady Ada's site here: http://www.adafruit.com/products/157 for just a couple of dollars. Plus shipping, so buy a lot of other stuff there too. *L*
I also bought the cable and bread board connector for the Raspi here: http://www.adafruit.com/products/914 Since this is reusable for many projects I consider it a tool and am not adding it to the cost of this single project.
If you want they sell a remote control with a configuration file all figured out for you already. If you want to reuse and old remote, that is easy to do too.
I followed the directions on Ada Fruit as well and programmed my remote control in just a few minutes.
I had to type in the commands from a screen shot, here is something you can copy and paste from:
sudo modprobe lirc_rpi
sudo kill $(pidof lircd)
mode2 -d /dev/lirc0
irrecord -d /dev/lirc0 ~/lircd.conf
A lot of remote controls have been programmed already, and the config files shared at this site: http://lirc.sourceforge.net/remotes/
This receiver is so much more sensitive than any I have ever used before. I can literally point the remote control 180 degrees away from the chip and it still reads the button presses. The old media player would sometimes not get a button press pointing right at it.
I have three more of the chips and 3 more Raspi boards, so I will be adding a wire harness to each of these 4 chips and wiring up every Raspi I own with inexpensive IR.
The Raspi's can also send IR so I will be working on that next.