Pages Menu
TwitterRssFacebook
Categories Menu

Posted by on Aug 16, 2013 in Blog, Computer Hardware, Computer Tips | 5 comments

The best remote for a HTPC

I’ve mentioned in the past that I use a HTPC (Home Theater PC) for streaming movies from my local network (a network share on a Windows server) to my TV.  There has been a huge amount of streaming boxes hit the market lately and I’ve tried many of them.  I use a Roku 3 for most Netflix, Hulu, Amazon and Pandora activitiy.  When it comes to streaming local content XBMC is hands down the best (see my previous post about using it with Windows 8).  I do have Plex on my Roku and the server piece on a server where I store my videos.  Plex works well and is on all platforms.  I just like playing the native video file as it is and not have to transcode to a client.   I also just really like the interface of XBMC.  I had hoped the port of XBMC to the Ouya would possibly replace my HTPC but I don’t think it’s been released yet and I’m not super optimistic that it will be as nice and fluid.  So my Ouya sits mostly untouched for now.

To this end I’ve been on a never ending quest to find the right remote control for my HTPC.  I’ve tried many different remotes.  The one that came the closest but still wasn’t quite there was the Logitech diNovo (goofy name) mini PC entertainment keyboard.

WP_20130816_00_43_44_Pro

It’s actually a very nice keyboard and remote but it’s a bit awkward, somewhat overpriced and I never got really comfortable using it.  Before this I used a remote from nMediaPC.

WP_20130816_00_44_56_Pro

It worked well most of the time but didn’t have an integrated keyboard.  It came with a normal sized wireless keyboard that was too big and bulky.  It didn’t take long for the trackball mouse to start acting up.
Before this I had also tried the Rii Mini Keyboard with touch pad.

WP_20130816_09_47_27_Pro

This one was not bad.  The keyboard worked well though the touch pad could be a bit sensative.  It was backlit and is a good price on Amazon.  My problem with this one was battery life and it was a bit awkward in the hand.  It seemed like the battery was dead every time I picked it up, especially after sitting for a week or so unused.  It’s also not really a one handed remote which I prefer.  I also tended to have some sticking keys sometimes.

Before that one there were many more.  I like experimenting and the old devices tucked away in my closets show this.  I could probably dig up and photograph 5 or 6 more remotes but I won’t bore you with that.

So, my current and so far favorite HTPC remote?
It’s the MCE Remote Control by Feilan.
I purchased it from Amazon for about $26.

WP_20130816_00_23_01_Pro

The remote has a keyboard integrated into it.  A trackball (kind of small) for mouse activities.  This also is a learning universal remote so I’ve programmed some of the buttons to turn on my TV and home theater systems.
The remote is nice to hold in the hand and isn’t cheap feeling like some I’ve used.  The keys all work well, though there’s a few that are too close to other keys like the left and right cursor.  The battery life is great.  It has zoom in and out buttons which are nice for browsing the web.  The ctrl-alt-del function is a nice touch for those times Windows or an application isn’t acting right.  The play, volume and other buttons work well with XBMC.  The instructions that came with it are pretty sparse (poorly translated from Chinese) and there’s no real online help.    I’ve tested and used the remote with both Windows 7 and 8.  Overall it’s a great remote and I don’t plan on looking for a replacement just yet.  I’ve had the remote for about 6 months and it’s performance has been reliable and consistent.  I did notice on the Feilan website there’s another version (actually several versions that all look very similar) of the remote that has back lighting that would be nice but I haven’t found anywhere to buy it just yet.  That would be the only reason right now to replace it.

WP_20130816_00_24_00_Pro

5 Comments

  1. Hey, thanks for writing this. I’m on my third HTPC remote, and they have all disappointed. I’m interested in this one, but had a couple questions:

    First, I’m generally navigating the Windows desktop to find media, stream content, etc. How is the trackball for general use? My previous remotes have had gyroscope control or a touchpad. The trackball looks small, and I know I’d be using it a lot.

    Secondly, there’s a review on Amazon that says it reverts to “TV” (infrared) mode if you don’t use it for a few minutes. Is this true? I would only use it as a PC control device, so that would be a big inconvenience.

  2. Hi! The trackball is a bit small but it works well. I’ve tried the gyroscope and touchpad type but I prefer the trackball. I’ve never noticed the remote reverting to TV mode. I never actually use the TV mode but every time I use the remote it’s in PC mode.

  3. Is there anything special you need to do to get it working? Mine arrived today and though everything installs when I plug the dongle in to the USB port, I don’t get any response whatsoever when I press keys or use the trackball on the remote. Do I need to power it on somehow?

  4. Also, in the spirit of information-sharing, I should say that I have owned several of the nMediaPC remotes. I say “several” because the shelf-life on them is not good. I loved them, but they had a shelf-life of only a couple years if that.

  5. Hi, I don’t remember having to power it on or anything. I think that pushing the TV/PC button will make it not work for the PC. On mine there’s an orange led that lights up when you hit any buttons.

Post a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>