Sometimes an excellent operating system can be made even better
Rock Remote Control for Windows Vista (RM-VR1)
- Responsive controls, plenty of useful buttons, large keypad
- Only works with Vista machines, Back button less prominent than we would have liked
The Rock remote control for Windows Vista does exactly what it says on the box. While it won't be the most essential purchase you'll ever make, it performs its primary function decidedly well.
Price$ 39.95 (AUD)
This somewhat self-explanatory gadget is a remote control specifically designed for Windows Vista users and digital media enthusiasts. Its primary functions include launching and managing your media centre, accessing music, photos and videos stored on your computer, surfing/recording television channels with the aid of a digital TV tuner card and instant access to full-screen live TV.
As such, it is the perfect accompaniment to the Windows Media Center application; the green Start logo for which is displayed prominently on the front of the device. Curiously however, the remote does not appear to be compatible with XP's Media Center Edition, so only Vista owners need apply. All up, we found the remote to be both responsive and well designed, with its generous 50-button interface covering all conceivable bases.
The Rock remote control could not be easier to setup; it comes paired with a small infrared sensor in the sales package, which plugs into your computer via USB. There are no drivers to download or CD ROMs to install; simply connect the sensor and you're good to go. While the remote's interface may seem intimidating at first glance, using it quickly becomes second nature, with each button laid out in an intuitive manner.
Naturally, all of the controls you would expect to find on a regular entertainment remote are present and accounted for, including navigation, media playback, and audio buttons, as well as a numeric keypad (which can be used to input data in the same manner as a mobile phone). The remote also comes equipped with a variety of shortcut buttons, allowing you to access specific Media Center features on the fly, as well as a power button to fire up your PC from standby. Certain buttons, including the TV, Mute, CH+ and CH-, can be programmed via the remote's learning functionality to send commands to your TV.
Despite an abundance of buttons, the keypad is large and spacious; a boon for trigger-fingered channel hoppers. Our only reservation concerns the 'Back' button, which feels too small and randomly placed – consequently, finding it in the dark can be a real plain.
The infrared sensor has a fairly respectable range of 10 metres; enough for most media centres or HTPC setups (provided your computer is in clear view of your television set). In conclusion, the Rock remote control for Windows Vista does exactly what it says on the box. While it won't be the most essential purchase you'll ever make, it performs its primary function decidedly well.
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