The HP MediaSmart Connect x280n ships with a handheld remote that is worthy of its own blog review. Most of the remote controls that I’ve seen shipping with Media Center Computer, Media Center Extenders, etc. are lacking in one or more key features. For one thing, if it doesn’t have some kind of back lighting, it isn’t usable for me in a home theater environment. A couple of the remotes I’ve received along the way from Microsoft and others DO have back lighting, so fortunately, since these things are interchangeable, it hasn’t been a problem for me. My other big gripe is that I have other components with remotes (you know, TV’s, home theater receivers, X10 lighting, and other components like Xboxen, DVD player’s, et all) and I hate remote clutter. For years I’ve used Philips Prontos. And I’ve programmed them with macros that are activity based. Perfect for my needs.
HP has definitely raised the bar when it comes to supplying a premium hand held remote. The images here are NOT to scale and are meant to show the layout and shape as well as features. Both the D-Link (left) and the Linksys (right) are pretty basic remotes. And they do what they are supposed to do. The D-Link DSM-750 has a secondary proprietary MediaLounge interface and their remote works seamlessly with it as well as the Media Center interface.
So what do I like and what do I think sets this remote apart? First, there is a very tactile cursor pad. Then there is the blue back lighting so I don’t have to fumble in the dark. The remote includes universal remote functions and allows you to add 4 additional components (TV, set top box, DVD, Aux, etc.). I haven’t set anything up yet, but for most people this will be more than enough to banish other remotes. There is no macro capability, so my Pronto will stay on the coffee table. And if someone wants to supply a Pronto ccf/pcf file and upload it to remotecentral.com.. I might go the other way and include a device on my Pronto. (Yeah, I can use “learning” and do it all myself). Another really big plus is the “sleep” button. (Think “Green”).
A final BIG plus that I want to highlight today is that the “Green Button” provides one touch access to turn the x280n on and fire up the Media Center Extender interface, and get you connected without going through the MediaSmart menu. Otherwise, you press the power button to reach the main menu and can select the MCX or HP interface from there.
My only complaint so far is that I prefer the play button to be centered, larger and standout more like on the D-Link remote and some of the MS reference designs.