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SoundGraph iMON Plus Remote Control Review
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SoundGraph iMON Plus Remote Control

A remote for your TV, DVD, DSS, VCR... and computer?

SoundGraph iMON Plus
Click to enlarge. (66kb)
Computers aren’t just for work or games anymore. No siree, the computer industry has its eyes fixed firmly on the home theater industry – just take a look at some of the non-computing products coming out from Gateway or even Dell. Eventually, they’d like the personal computer to become an essential part of any home media room. A merging of audio, video and processing power?

The transformation is already well underway. The latest generation of powerful, quiet and compact computers can be the centerpiece of a superior home theater, or even act as a complete audio/video system. Plug in the right hardware and you can watch cable or HDTV television, play DVD movies in 5.1 surround sound and timeshift network programming on a hard disk – never mind ordinary computing tasks like surfing the internet, playing an online game in high resolution or balancing the checkbook. “Convergence” is a popular buzzword these days, and computers exemplify the concept best.

But as anyone who has lugged a regular PC into the living room with visions of big-screen computing can attest to, a keyboard and mouse just weren’t designed with La-Z-Boy recliners in mind. Wireless versions will eliminate cords along with their inevitable tripping hazard, but when all you want to do is navigate DVD menus or flip through a few television channels, a quicker and more familiar control system will suffice. Even if it’s less capable than the items being replaced. So what would make the most sense?

It takes a remote to do a remote’s job.
SoundGraph Inc. thinks they have the perfect solution to the whole PC control issue with their $59 (USD MSRP) iMON “Universal IR Remote Control Device for Home Theater PC”. As a company, SoundGraph works primarily with computer-based DJ equipment, but has recently added two PC remote controls to their lineup: a basic and the “Plus” version we’re reviewing here. Don’t be confused by the use of the word “universal” in the official product description: the iMon is only capable of controlling a computer.

SoundGraph iMON Plus
Click to enlarge. (22kb)
As recently as a few years ago you’d have been able to count the number of available PC remotes on a single hand, few of them capable of doing much more than adjusting the volume or navigating a DVD movie. Recently, with the popularity of true multimedia PCs growing larger and larger, a number of competitive models have come onto the market, either as accessories bundled with specific hardware or software, or do-it-yourself add-on kits. Even Microsoft has entered the game with their Windows XP Media Center Edition PC operating system – the first operating system to ship with a functional remote control.

A balance of control.
PC remote control designs have been in a constant state of flux regarding how much mouse and keyboard functionality to balance with direct application control. As previous designs have focused more on program-specific functions rather than generic mouse operations (some excluding the mouse completely), the iMON Plus is the first PC remote we’ve reviewed where application buttons clearly take a back seat to cursor movement and other operating system controls.

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