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Since the Menacing Thick Fluffy Blanket (MTFB) test we use with infrared remotes isnít of any use for RF units, we must instead resort to the less common (but equally unscientific) House Of Countless Obstacles (HOCO) test. In testing the Remote Wonder IIís range, I came across some unexpected difficulties in gaining any real distance from the RF receiver. For a 10 foot (3 meter) radius the remote worked perfectly no matter where it was aimed, but at about 15 feet (4.5 meters) it became very directional. Much further than that and even if line-of-sight to the receiver was possible nothing happened.
Since this result wasnít expected, I went back to the original Remote Wonder and its tiny receiver and found the working distance approximately the same, perhaps even slightly better. So it seems that at least with my particular circumstances, the reputedly more sophisticated RF circuitry in the Remote Wonder IIís receiver isnít of any benefit. But, as always with RF devices, your experience will likely differ.
Although a completely new design compared to the original model, existing Remote Wonder owners currently have little reason to upgrade, unless you absolutely must have background control and an [ATI] button. What will be truly interesting to see is how ATI will make use of those IR blaster ports on the RF receiver.
After using both Windows and Mac drivers, itís surprising how much more refined and customizable the Mac drivers feel Ė and theyíll even work with the original Remote Wonder! In this case the difference has absolutely nothing to do with which hardware platform is used Ė itís simply down to how the drivers have been written. The Windows drivers could be just as good, they just arenít... yet. The Apple team had little choice but to deal with the lack of supporting ATI software, so they went ahead and allowed full configurability. The results are exactly what I would like to see ported to the Windows version: accurate mouse cursor control, unlimited programs and robust button customization.
For Windows users, if you own a video card based on a different companyís technology the Remote Wonder II will work with your PC and its multimedia programs, but offers basic control with limited customizability. Those who already have ATI hardware and are looking for a PC remote will find the Remote Wonder II an ideal control that integrates particularly well with ATIís applications. RF-based operation, lots of buttons, usable mouse cursor control, plus a bonus nifty HTPC interface to sweeten the deal.
If youíre looking to pick one up, please note that as of the time of this writing the Remote Wonder II can only be purchased standalone from two online stores, but is included with some All-In-Wonder video card models as a standard accessory.
- Daniel Tonks (Remote Central)