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ATI Remote Wonder


September 30, 2002
By Chris Burek
Retail Price: $49.99 USD
FYI: http://www.ati.com/products/pc/remotewonder/index.html


ATI Remote Wonder




Included:
  • Remote Wonder remote control unit
  • USB Receiver
  • 4 - AAA Batteries
  • Installation CD
  • Installation instructions
System Requirements
  • Pentium 4/3/2 or compatible
  • USB 1.1 port
  • Installation software requires CD-ROM drive
Supported Operating Systems
  • Windows 98 SE
  • Windows 2000
  • Windows ME
  • Windows XP
Warranty
  • 1-year limited
While ATI is definitely not the first to market a remote control for the PC, they are the first to actually get it right, and posses the appropriate presence in the market to be successful with it.

ATIís Remote Wonder is available as both a standalone product or bundled with ATIís All-in-Wonder Radeon 8500.

The Remote Wonderís layout caters mainly to ATIís Multimedia Center software which, unfortunately, is not usable unless you own an ATI video card. However, it does effectively control numerous other functions and multimedia applications.

In this evaluation, weíll cover both the practicality of the Remote Wonder coupled with ATIís Multimedia Center, and other various Windows and third party applications.

So what can it do? Anything and everything! That is, except input letters and characters, aside from numbers.

Weíre here to find out how efficiently it controls everything.

A total of 42 buttons and one 8-way directional pad are housed in sleek silver remote. 6 of those are user programmable.

How does it work?

The remote uses radio frequency to communicate with its small USB-based receiver. A hefty 4 AAA batteries are required for operation of the remote, and are luckily included. You can effectively use this remote up to 25 feet away from its base, which includes through a wall.

Software

The bundled Remote Wonder software (1.1) was disappointing, leaving one really important feature almost totally unaddressedóthe 6 programmable buttons. Using the bundled software, these buttons could only be programmed to perform functions strictly for Multimedia Center applications or for simulating keystrokes. However, this was corrected with a new software release (1.2) which allows these programmable buttons to do anything from launching a desired program to any number of preprogrammed functions. Additionally, the 1.2 release features plugins for controlling Microsoft PowerPoint and Nullsoftís Winamp.

               


Installation

Itís a straightforward installation: Insert the 4 AAA batteries, install ATIís Remote Wonder and Multimedia Center software, restart, plug in the USB receiver, restart again, and youíre good to go. As mentioned above, we recommend updating to the latest (http://www.ati.com/support/products/pc/remotecontrol/remotewonderdrivers.html) Remote Wonder drivers to improve functionality.

Functionality & Efficiency

A great design and contour make the Remote Wonder comfortable to use. Button placement is also very logical and neat. The remote is very solid and has withstood several bangs and bruises.

The Remote Wonder does work best in conjunction with Multimedia Centerís DVD player, VCD player, File player, CD player, and TV player. This is mainly because itís already set up and tuned to control the various functions present in these applications. Unfortunately, you do need to own an ATI video card in order to use the Multimedia Center.

Therefore, we went ahead and tested the remoteís practicality with a suite of various applications such as Windows Media Player 7.1, CyberLink PowerDVD, and InterVideo WinDVD. Playback controls (Play, stop, pause, forward, back) all work, however, with Windows Media Player and PowerDVD, the forward and back buttons only go to the next track/item whereas with WinDVD, the controls act as fast forward and reverse.

The Remote Wonderís directional pad, which controls the mouse cursor, takes a bit of time to get used to, just as a touchpad on a notebook computer. Eventually, you will learn to control the cursor very smoothly. The right and left mouse buttons are well-positioned on their respective sides of the directional pad, and a mouse-drag button is also available to aid in dragging and dropping icons, moving windows, or scrolling. After months of using this method to control the mouse cursor, I have become very comfortable and efficient in doing so.

I have a 27Ē TV set up here using ATIís All-in-Wonder Radeon 8500 TV-OUT function, and frequently watch DivX or SVCD movies on the TV. Itís always been a pain having to go back to the computer to pause, play, reverse, rewind, and change the volume, so as you can probably guess, I have found the Remote Wonder to be a godsend for this purpose. I can sit back, relax, and not have to worry about ever getting up during a movie.

While watching TV, I can switch to the video input for my PC and use the remote to launch my e-mail client and check for new mail, do Web browsing, etc. Hell, I could even play a game of Tetris. Itís even fun to manipulate the mouse when the unsuspecting are using the PC.

The Remote Wonder could also be a very useful tool for staging a very professional PowerPoint presentation. Changing slides from across the room seems much more appealing than standing by a PC and clicking a mouse repeatedly.

Should it be necessary to use two or more Remote Wonder units in the same vicinity, ATI provides a simple way (unit code ID) of changing the unit code ID in order to eliminate any interference between the multiple devices.

Ultimately, I think this is a very valuable gadget to have. I recommend the Remote Wonder for those who use their PC to watch movies such as DVDs, DivX, or VCDs (via monitor or with TV-OUT), have a TV tuner card, want to do Web browsing or read e-mail from their couch, control PowerPoint presentations, or pretty much anything else you can think of.

Pros:
  • Good range
  • Well designed and laid out
  • Durable
  • Batteries included
  • Detailed documentation

    Cons:
  • Uprade to 1.2 needed to make more useful
  • Multimedia Center only works with ATI video card
  • Directional pad not as accurate as mouse
  • Uses 4 AA batteries

    Performance: 5/5
    Stability: 5/5
    Price: 3/5
    Documentation: 4/5
    Packaging: 5/5
    Value: 5/5
    Overall: 27/30

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