This is a great device, im really quite impressed with it and I wanted to let others know about it, as though I was aware that there were such devices on the market it hadn't really dawned on me how useful and fun such a product could be.
- What Does It Do & How Do I Get It To Work? -
The remote control allows you to control Windows Media Center wirelessly, so you can play, pause, fast forward, rewind video and music files and scroll through picture files and so on. The remote contains 49 buttons, with the main one in the middle being a large button with the Media Center logo, which starts the program up and a standby button for putting your computer into standby mode.
Basically it works by plugging in a USB infrared receiver into a free USB port on your laptop or desktop computer and of course you have to insert batteries into the remote control, this remote takes 2 x AAA (the smaller ones) batteries, both of which are included with the remote, then once the computer recognises and installs (on Vista this is done automatically, there's no need for a CDROM to install software/files) the relevant files, its all set up and ready to use - its as simple as that. I had my remote working, navigating through video files with my laptop connected to my TV (I could already do this, by connecting a VGA lead from my laptop to the 'PC input' socket on the back of my TV and then connecting computer speakers to the front of my TV and my laptop, of course both the speakers and VGA lead are separate accessories and not all TVs have a PC input option ) within about five minutes. Compared to some computer accessories, this one was definitely both easy to understand how to use and quick to set up and actually use lol.
- Whats Included in the Box? -
So what do you get in the box? you get the following:-
1 x remote control (obviously)
1 x USB infrared receiver
1 x Extension cable (you can plug the USB receiver into this and it provides you with an extra metre or so of USB cable, incase you need it to
1 x Velcro tape (dont ask me why)
2 x AA batteries for powering the remote control
1 x Users guide (the guide is pretty brief but there's not much to it as a product really anyway, its all pretty common sense. The guide appears as if its quite lengthy but thats because it has the same information in multiple foreign languages as well as English)
- What are the Minimum Specification/Requirements? -
This is pretty simple too, although people who use/have Windows XP Media Center Edition will be disappointed, due to the main system requirement, which is that the computer you use it with has to be either Windows Vista Home Premium or Windows Vista Ultimate (Windows Vista Basic doesn't include Media Center), the Trust website says that it will work with either the 32 bit or the 64 bit editions of Vista and the other requirement is that you have a free USB port for plugging the receiver into. The receiver itself is surprisingly small and doesn't take up much space at all, its only a couple of centimetres wide, so thats good.
Its worth noting that this remote control comes with official Microsoft certification and the box it comes in has the 'Certified for Windows Vista' sticker on it.
Its also worth noting that I've read on another review on Amazon that the receiver doesn't work well at all if you have it plugged into a USB hub and so its recommended to plug it into a USB port directly attached to your computer of choice.
- What Range Does It Offer? -
The remote is effective for distances up to 7 metres according to the box. Its worked fine for me at distances of around 1 to 2 metres, and you can always try using the extension cable if your in a large room, where you'd plug the USB receiver into one end of the cable and the other end of the cable into the free USB port. As long as its not plugged into a hub, it should work ok but 7 metres is quite a good range I think anyway.
- Does It Only Work With Media Center? -
This is something I was curious about, as I knew it was designed for use with Windows Media Center but I had wondered whether that meant that it was restricted to only being able to navigate that one particular programs functions. As it turns out, thats not the case. So far, I've tried it with Windows Media Player and that works fine, your usual laptop volume and mute functions show up on screen when you press the relevant buttons and if you press navigational buttons on the remote such as fast forward and pause then they work as well.
I've also tried it with a non-Microsoft program, a video playback program called KMPlayer and the remote doesn't work in terms of navigating video files played on that program, though again volume and mute buttons do work, that shouldn't be affected by which program your using. I presume it only lets you navigate (ie fast forward, rewind, pause etc.) video files played through Windows programs, which is fair enough, between Windows Media Player and Windows Media Center you can play just about any of the popular video formats, apart from RealPlayer files perhaps but most of them you can, so its not a major downside for me.
- How Much Is It? -
Well I bought my one brand new from a seller on Ebay for £17.90 which I thought was a very reasonable price, although I saw that (as of mid January 2009) you can buy it through Amazon.co.uk for £19.99. Anything under or around £20 seems pretty good to me, though you may feel differently but that seems to be the current price at the moment anyway.
- Is It Worth Purchasing? -
If your like me and have many home videos and other video files and possibly even rented movies online (like Lovefilm offer online film rentals, which are great as you don't end up wit scratched discs that are temperamental at playing and it only takes a few hours max. to download them!), then you can play them back and watch them on either your laptop/desktop or on your TV if you have the extra accessories for this and you don't have to be sitting right in front of your computer in order to control playback of them.
I love it because I can now have my laptop hooked up to my TV and navigate through my music, picture and video files with this remote control and watch/listen to whatever I like from my computer and/or my external hard drive from a couple of metres distance, I no longer have to mess about to find the right volume level and I can pause video playback if I have to nip to the toilet or if the phone or doorbell goes, without having to walk up to my lapop, lift the lid, find the right buttons and adjust things that way. This is perhaps a bit of a lazy persons product in that respect and it feels like a bit of a luxury but personally I love it! this product makes me feel alot more keen to use Media Center and to playback my files through my TV and enjoy watching videos on a larger screen.
I would definitely recommend this device, for under £20 it seems like quite a bargain, you don't have to be a techie expert to set it up or to understand how to use it, the buttons are all pretty common sense with the usual logos/symbols used and its easy to set up and use, plus it works with both Media Center and Windows Media Player, so really what more could you want? (considering it is a Microsoft certified product). Other than it not being fully compatible with non Microsoft video programs, which I feel is to be somewhat expected, and it not working with Windows XP, there's really nothing bad about this product at all and I really like it, so I would recommend it to any Vista computer owner who'd like to operate playback of their video, picture and music files on Windows programs from a distance. Great item, good price!
I hope you found my review useful, thanks for any and all r/r/c's. This review may also be posted on Ciao UK under the same username, IzzyS, at some point, if I can get their product proposal feature to work at all, which seems unlikely at the moment unfortunately(!).