Wednesday, January 06, 2010

New gadget review - Mini Lenovo multimedia remote

As probably many of you have, I too have a HTPC (Home Theatre PC). In my case it is my old Dell desktop. This is used to watch some shows on Hulu and in sometimes for the kids to play on. Nothing heavy duty. I have not been satisfied with the wired USB keyboard and mouse that I have to control the PC with. It looks messy and how is one to use a mouse for HTPC?

I bought a Lenovo Multimedia Remote with keyboard and just got it. It was smaller than I though it would be. I guess that is a plus in the case that I do not need to type much on the keyboard. I suspect it will pretty much be just to start a browser and then enter a URL. The rest will be the trackball...

At first I (since I never read manuals unless I get really stuck) almost panicked as I could not find the wireless dongle to put into the computer. I thought that "great, now I need to deal with customer service and so...". But then I discovered that they had "hidden" the USB dongle in the battery compartment. Pretty neat.

So, no need to find out how good the Lenovo customer service is :) To judge the size, check out this photo:

I mean, we all have some "AAA" batteries and tape, right? Anyway, before I bought it, the comments online was at best that the remote what "fugly" and in some cases out right ugly. But with the size so small, I find it ok. I will hide well in your pile of remotes :)

A bonus with the "fugly" shape, is that left hand, or right hand operation is probably both supported just as well. That is not always the case. I have pretty large hands, and the keys really feel small. But maybe that's just because I do not have a Blackberry or other smart phone. The keyboard will be navigated using your thumbs.

So, I plugged in the dongle, and after a minute or so, my Windows XP PC was now controlled by the Lenovo Remote. Both keyboard and trackball working as they should. Now that is actually working plug and play in action. Nice. Ok, time for some surfing. Ok, done :) I already can summarize the first ~30 min of use with this list.

  • (+) Nice to hold, trackball seems good to use
  • (+) Easy installation, small size
  • (-) The "mouse" buttons are over the trackball (see below), in my case they should have been below...
  • (-) Top right key is "delete" and not "backspace" (backspace is one below). Not what I would prefer
  • (-) In a dark room, the black remote and small letters makes it hard to type. Should have some backlight. At least on the play/rewind/volume buttons. Too bad.
Here is the trackball and the buttons. For me it is easy to accidentally "hit" the trackball when I want to (single handed) press a mouse button.

In a while I will give an update on how it has been working out, how long the battery works and so on. Keep tuned. In case you need it, here is also the bottom of the remote. The Model number is N5901.

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