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HTPC Remote Possibilities


Every DVD player has one; every television too. You can even find car radios that include them! What we're talking about here is infrared or radio frequency (RF) remote controls, of which you can find multiples in every household nowadays. Nobody wants to do without the comfort or capability of remote controls; are you ready to get up and walk to the TV set to change channels? No way - unless your dog just ate the remote!

These days, a PC can also benefit from a remote control, letting you can extend your couch potato ways to its operation as well. This typically involves either using special function buttons on a remote, or using the remote for simple navigation through a user interface. That way, the remote can replace both mouse and keyboard, at least for many typical activities.

PC remote controls generally require Windows XP Media Center Edition (MCE) 2005 and its special multimedia interface to perform all their tricks. But PC remotes are also quite usable even with older versions of Windows, as well as with other multimedia interfaces such as PowerCinema from Cyberlink.

In this round-up, we'll look at six Windows remote control products from Soundgraph, Thermaltake and VL System. Let's start with Soundgraph.

Soundgraph: Infrared Remote Controls

Pioneering technology from Soundgraph: Here's what started the remote revolution last year.

Korean manufacturer Soundgraph was one of the first companies to react to this emerging market, introducing two interesting products to the marketplace some time ago. The iMON Knob is an external USB solution that consists of a receiver module and a large remote control. The iMON VFD includes a front panel display for insertion into a 5.25" drive bay, along with the same remote; the infrared receiver is located right next to the unit's two-line vacuum fluorescent display (VFD) on the front panel. A USB connection to an internal header pin block or an external USB port links this device to your PC. Both products run the same user interface, which is also featured in numerous OEM offerings, including Home Theater PC (HTPC) cases from companies such as Silverstone and 3R Systems.