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Installing the Wonder.
The driver installation process completed flawlessly, with the RF receiver instantly detected by Windows. Once the system had been rebooted, the Remote Wonder began functioning right away. If interference is a problem, one of 16 different communications channels can be selected in the driver – you certainly wouldn’t want your neighbor’s remote to suddenly start controlling your PC!
If your system is already populated with ATI components, the Remote Wonder will be able to perform many functions. The “TV” activity button starts the installed television tuner, “DVD” loads up the DVD application, “Web” launches Internet Explorer or Netscape, while the “book” symbol loads the multimedia file player. If you don’t have an ATI video card, the catch is that three of those buttons – TV, DVD and Files – are hard linked to ATI applications, with, as-yet, no option to modify.
Thus, the Remote Wonder’s usefulness on a non-ATI system is limited. It’s possible to configure one of the six fully-customizable buttons to launch other programs, but unless a “plug-in” has been developed for that program (which is something ATI does not permit users to do on their own), the remote is limited to basic Windows interface control.
Don’t discount it yet – the Remote Wonder’s basic interface control is really quite good. I was pleasantly surprised at how well the cursor control pad works – and it’ll even operate concurrently with your existing mouse! Despite having only 8 possible directions and no pressure sensitivity, controlling the mouse cursor is remarkably easy. The cursor moves at two speeds – slow for a half second or so for exact placement, then much faster thereafter for quick screen navigation. I experienced absolutely no lag or other problems on my test system, despite less than ideal RF antenna placement. I tried the Remote Wonder on several other systems, one of which exhibited a strange cursor “stuttering” problem that I couldn’t quite pin down.
In terms of basic interface controls, the [Power] button at the top closes down the currently active program. It can also be used to shut off the computer if the desktop is selected, but therein resides a problem – the remote cannot be used to turn it back on. Two buttons on either side of the cursor pad activate left and right mouse button clicks. Although it’s possible to hold the left button down and drag selections at the same time with the pad, ATI thoughtfully provides a button specifically so that this can be done single-handedly. Located right next to the activity keys, press the “hand” button once to begin dragging, then again to end.
Positioned below the cursor pad are volume and mute buttons. These generally control the Windows master volume slider, except when the ATI TV tuner is active, where they switch to control one of the analog inputs. The channel/track buttons next to the volume buttons only function in supported applications.
Immediately below those buttons is a 10-digit keypad that’ll work in any application. Clustered in the same group are two other keys for “DVD Menu” and “Setup Menu”, but these will only function in ATI applications. Directly beneath these buttons is a 5-way menu cluster, whose functions correspond to the four directional cursor keys on your keyboard, plus [Enter]. On either side of the cluster are two additional buttons, one of which switches between a program’s windowed and maximized states (or fullscreen/window modes when viewing video). The other activates “DVR” mode in supported programs. Beneath that are six standard transport keys which, yet again, only work in supported applications.