As much as I enjoyed the All-in-Wonder VE, one of the problems I did have was the lack of a remote. You see, I'm a lazy slob, and if I'm leaning back in my chair watching a show, the last thing I feel like doing is leaning forward and using my mouse to change channels.
Now, my description above is not a good one, at least, not good enough to actually make anybody want to get up and buy a remote for their PC. A more realistic scenario, is if your PC is part of an entertainment hub, and the actual computer is 8-15 feet away from you. I do use the AiW VE in our family room, so I want to be able to switch channels from the comfort of my couch, without the need of fumbling about on a keyboard and mouse.
Another scenario, is if you're, uh, entertaining guests, and have your PC playing some Michael Bolton to get into the mood. I guess it can be a real mood breaker to not get up and shut off the PC, so this is where a remote can come in handy.
The ATi Remote Wonder is a remote control that was packaged starting with the Radeon 8500 AiW. Since the release last year, the remote has been sold as a standalone product. Ideally, you'll want to have some kind of TV-Tuner to get the most out of it, but versatility us the key here, as the Remote Wonder is designed more than for channel surfing.
Wireless remote control for your PC
Works through walls using RF technology even when not aimed at the receiver
Easy to install to an available USB port
Integrates perfectly with all RADEON™ graphics products
The wireless remote that works through walls
Full control of your multimedia options
Experience pc freedom
ATi Remote Wonder
The Remote Wonder is packaged in your typical ATi red and black box. Everything is neatly packed, and there's enough packaging to keep the parts from bouncing around like a pinball machine.
Inside, you'll find the remote, 4 AAA batteries, a driver/software CD, and a USB receiver. You also get a user manual and reference card, which can come in handy as you first start using the remote.
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The remote is exactly the same, layout-wise, as the one packaged with all their high-end All-In-Wonder cards. It looks pretty sharp; being silver with blue buttons, and looks a lot better than your typical PC remotes.
ATi doesn't skimp on packing the remote with functionality. The usual suspects are present; hot buttons for various media options such as DVD, and TV, as well as your common "remote control" buttons such as number buttons, fast forward and rewind, record, play, pause and stop.
Other than being a multimedia remote, the Remote Wonder also acts like a wireless mouse. The large thumb pad is used to navigate the mouse cursor around the screen, and you have a left and right mouse click button as well. In theory, you can do away with your mouse if you plan to run a multimedia PC in the living room, since the remote can do everything a mouse can.
There are a number of buttons, "A" through "F", scattered about the remote. I think it would have been better to place them closer together, but I guess it would make the rest of the layout on the remote awkward. These buttons can be mapped to certain functions, which I'll explain later on.
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The RF USB receiver has a maximum range of about 30 feet, but realistically, this range shouldn't be a problem for most people. The receiver and remote work on a 433MHz frequency, which is free for use in North America and Europe, so you shouldn't have to worry about it interfering with any other wireless devices in your home. I did find the USB cord a little short, considering there's a lot of EMI noise a computer, but our remote worked fine with the receiver sandwiched between the monitor and PC.
For those of you building a PC based TiVo, there's a strong chance you already got this remote, since the All-In-Wonder cards are arguably the most popular cards for these setups. If you were thinking of picking up an AiW VE, which has no remote, naturally, an extra Remote Wonder would be handy. If you're concerned about using the remote, and accidently sending a signal to the other receiver, don't be. There are 16 different ID values you can assign, so there isn't any worry of getting the remotes mixed up when trying to change the channel on one PC.
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Installation shouldn't take more than a couple minutes. Simply drop in the four batteries into the remote, and install the receiver into a free USB port. Any version of Windows above 98 SE should acknowledge the presence of the receiver, and it's just a matter of installing the drivers and software.
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