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A mouse curser on a sugar high...
Back to the configuration window, the “Mouse” tab adjusts how the mouse pad on the remote works. The overall speed can be adjusted in 10 increments from “slow” (21 seconds to cross my screen) to “fast” (3.5 seconds) and acceleration can be set to 4 different levels. Although mouse cursor acceleration usually works by speeding up the cursor after it has been moving for a short while, ATI’s acceleration is actually a deceleration – the cursor moves slowly for a second for accuracy, and then speeds up to the normal rate. “Low” acceleration slows the cursor down for a longer period than “high”.
Although the Remote Wonder II’s mouse cursor pad looks very much like an oversized TrackPoint, functionally it’s not much different from the flat disc on the original model. The physical pad moves in an infinite number of directions, but underneath the drivers still only register 8 basic motions – up, down, left, right and 45 degree increments thereof. The pad is also quite soft and rubbery and tends to give the illusion of being pressure sensitive.
It is quicker to use than the old disc and astoundingly sensitive – just brush the top with the lightest of touches and the cursor starts moving in that direction. It’s even possible to make the cursor move by merely shaking the remote. During normal use I found it difficult to keep the cursor headed in a straight line for any length of time as it invariably started twitching off course on the simplest of treks. Part of this is caused by the pad’s extremely flexible nature, since it involuntarily bends in different directions the longer and more firmly it’s pressed.
The [Left] and [Right] click buttons surrounding the remote’s cursor pad are a bit small and distant from that pad for comfort, but are nonetheless manageable. The [Hand] button, which normally operates as click-and-drag, can also be configured as the middle mouse button, or as a toggle to turn the joystick into a mouse wheel for scrolling. Although the scrolling option did not work with every program, it proved extremely useful for surfing web pages.
The “Options” tab houses several settings. The [Power] button can have a confirmation prompt enabled before shutting down Windows applications and/or Multimedia Center components, while the [TV] button can have its action changed – although on my system this option was greyed out. The system tray icon can also be hidden from view.
The RF ID of the remote can be changed to one of 16 different settings, so you and your neighbors won’t end up controlling each other’s PCs.
If you’ll recall the four AUX keys marked [AUX1] through [AUX4], the manual describes these as “direct control of user-defined devices” – and they really mean just that. By pressing one of those four keys, the drivers switch to sending commands to the application assigned to that key, rather than the program currently in the foreground. So, if you’re in PowerPoint and also have Winamp playing music in the background, you could assign Winamp to [AUX1] and then control it invisibly whenever desired. Control can be returned to the foreground application by pressing the [PC] key. There’s no way to change [AUX] key assignments on the fly, or have them actually launch the desired program when pressed.
It turns out that the only dedicated program-launching keys on the Remote Wonder II are [DVD] and [ATI] which only operate ATI programs, [TV] which should be customizable, plus anything that’s been assigned to the six user programmable keys. Although background control can be practical in certain circumstances, I would have rather seen the four AUX keys capable of starting useful tasks... and printed with more informative labels!