Adesso Wireless Keyboard and Remote for HTPC

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Adesso Wireless Keyboard and Remote for HTPC
Adesso Mini RF Keyboard Action

Product: Adesso Vista IR Remote (ARC-1100)
Provided By: Adesso
Price: $29.99 USD

Product: Adesso 2.4 GHz RF Wireless Mini Keyboard w/Optical Trackball (WKB-3000UB)
Provided By: Adesso
Price: $69.99 USD

 

Introduction:

While not many of you may have heard of Adesso, they are a company that is not new to the computer peripheral business.  They have been around for a few years and today we are looking at a couple of their wireless devices and using them in a Home Theater environment.  We’ve got the Adesso Vista Remote Control as well as the 2.4GHz RF Wireless Mini Keyboard with Optical Trackball.  Either one of these devices can make your Home Theater PC experience more enjoyable, but will be using them together to see if we can create the “Ultimate” wireless connected HTPC experience.  All we need now is a decent HTPC…

 

Remote Control – First Look:

The packaging of the remote is very basic and ships with merely the remote, some light documentation and the USB Infrared dongle.  The remote doesn't include any drivers at all and doesn't need drivers for use in Windows XP or Vista.  Buttons on the remote simply work as hotkeys and keystroke combinations that work without drivers.

 Remote Box
Remote Box
 Remote Bundle
Remote Bundle

 

The IR Remote has a ton of buttons and works equally well under Windows XP Media Center Edition and Vista Premium - or any other version of Vista that includes media center.  The handy thing about this remote is that it is detected and installs as an HID USB device.

 Remote Full Profile
Remote Full Profile


As we look at the remote up close below, you can see that there is a lot of quick navigation buttons that links you quickly to Photos, Videos and TV functions of Windows Media Center.  This remote claims to give you total and complete functionality of the Media Center.

 Remote Top Close
Remote Top Close
 Remote Middle Close
Remote Middle Close
Remote Bottom Close
Remote Bottom Close

 

The very top of the remote has the Power button and a shortcut for Internet explorer.  As we move down we've got the Media Center buttons for TV, Music, Photo and Video.  Below that row of colored buttons and the common media player controls that allow you to play/pause, fast forward/rewind, skip ahead/back and stop/record.  Already we've got a few handy functions covered, but there is much more.

Below the media player controls is a "Back" button that works in WMC and internet browsers (tested Firefox and Explorer).  Then, still in the top picture we've got a big "OK" button surrounded by arrow keys.  This is used for navigating in WMC and even DVD menus.

 

Moving down to the middle picture you can see the left and right "mouse buttons" at the top corners or a round area.  This big round "button" allows you to move the mouse pointer in any program that allows mouse movement.  Many other remote controls don't have this feature or if they do it's not as multi-directional as this.  Think of the pad as an analog stick from your PS2 controller.  Below this, we find the volume controls and channel controls (if you have a TV Tuner in your HTPC).  Also there is a tiny "Mute" button and of course the green Media Center Button.

At the bottom of the remote are all the number buttons that can be used to enter channel information, or anything else you typically use number buttons for.  Also on the very bottom row are "Close", "Clear" and "Enter" buttons.  The Close button will close the active window that you have open, Clear deletes everything in a dialog box and Enter, well, is like pressing Enter on a keyboard.

 

Installation & Usage:

Installation of this remote couldn't be easier.  If you have at least two fingers and a spare USB port, it can be installed in a few seconds.  Simply plug it into a spare port and wait a couple of minutes while Windows detects and installs built-in drivers for the HID USB device and you are good to go.

Once it's installed usage of the media center functions can be accessed by hitting the green button in the middle which in turn launches Windows Media Center.  At this point, all the other functions work just fine.  If you want to use this device as a simple mouse or for any other non-MCE functions, the large circular pad in the middle controls the mouse pointer.  Two buttons exist for right and left mouse buttons as well.

In reality, all of the functions of a mouse and a nice remote are bundled up in this one product.  This is a nice addition to other remote control products for Windows that don't incorporate much mouse functionality and mouse movement is on a two-axis plane.  The Adesso remote control D-Pad (as it were) permits mouse movement in virtually any direction much like an analog stick on a PS2 controller.  While it is much slower than a mouse, it does get the job done and is better than having a wireless mouse sitting beside you on the couch.

On the next page we'll take a look at the Adesso 2.4GHz Mini Keyboard with Optical Trackball and see how that fits into the HTPC experience.