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Buttons for tiny folk.
Although additional buttons are always welcome – and with a device as complicated as a computer, more really is merrier – portions of the Remote Wonder II seem arranged in a haphazard fashion. The top of the remote in particular stands out as an unusual combination of device, activity, customizable and mouse function keys.
On the other hand the remote’s lower half, while arranged in a generally logical manner, is absolutely chock-a-block with tiny, similarly shaped buttons. The section from the top of the numerical keypad to the bottom of the transport controls has one of the highest button density calculations we’ve ever seen, at 6.8 per square inch, beating the previous “winner” by 24%. This contrasts with all the empty space around the mouse pad and the large vacant portion at the very bottom.
Since the remote isn’t backlit and none of the keys glow in the dark, it can be difficult to figure out exactly which key you want just by feel – especially since so many of them feel exactly the same!
Don’t read – do!
The Remote Wonder II’s manual writers took the saying “too much information can be dangerous” to heart and decidedly erred on the side of caution. None of the manual’s 18 pages describe the customization options, or even fully detail what some of the buttons do. There’s 1 page’s worth of instructions, 8 pages charting what each button does under different programs, 2 pages of screenshots, a riveting 4 pages of legalese, plus 3 blank pages on which I assume you’re supposed to write your own instruction booklet.
So, the only way to gain an understanding of what the remote is capable of is to jump in feet first and start using it!
The remote communicates with your computer via the included USB RF receiver. The original Remote Wonder’s RF receiver was a small rectangular box with a mouse tail for an antenna, while the Remote Wonder II’s new circular and now much larger RF receiver looks something like a Moonpie that can receive voicemail. ATI’s website promises a range of 60 feet, 10 feet more than the original model.
The RF receiver comes with a 3 foot USB cord and is completely self contained – no antenna wires dangling free to attract your cat’s attention. The circular, dark plastic section that comprises the unit’s top is slightly transparent and, when plugged into a USB port, allows an LED light to glow softly through the front. When commands are received from the remote the LED blinks. On the left side of the receiver are two 3.5mm phono jacks that aren’t mentioned in the documentation – but don’t try plugging in your headphones, since they’re for future IR blasters that could be used to control standard audio/video equipment such as cable boxes and satellite receivers.