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Compared to a standard universal A/V remote, PC remote designs rely on more than useful buttons and a good ergonomic design. A crucial aspect is the software driver, which will dictate how well the remote integrates with a computer. Will the driver offer a superficial overlay of mainly static keyboard and mouse clicks, or will it integrate automatically with popular applications? Is it fully customizable, or have button function assignments been left up to the original programmers to decide?
This looks familiar...
Wireless PC remote controls are comprised of two parts: the remote control and a plug-in receiver. Both of these parts come in two basic varieties, radio frequency (RF) and infrared (IR), much like standard equipment remotes. RF-based remotes offer more control versatility, since they don’t require the handset to be aimed towards the receiver and can work through simple obstructions like doors or even walls. But they do have a significant drawback in that they can’t be incorporated into any other universal remote control at this time.
One of the main goals of Remote Central is to help readers consolidate their clutter of device-specific remotes. Merge more into less. Currently there is no mainstream way to combine the functionality of an RF-based remote control into any other remote control, so I’m pleased to see that the iMON Plus is based on standard IR and ships with a small infrared receiver “eye”. If you own an expensive aftermarket remote such as one of the Philips Pronto or Home Theater Master models, you’ll be able to integrate basic iMON home theater PC operation into your current investment with a minimum of fuss.
Simple, but practical.
At first glance the iMON Plus is a likeable remote, traditionally styled. Its array of keys are organized neatly into useful clusters, labelled with a combination of friendly icons and more descriptive text. A total of 42 hard buttons are provided, not counting a 17-way cursor control/menu joystick.
The iMON (referred to by SoundGraph as the “RSC” – Remote Stick Controller) is constructed with a matte black plastic case teeming with opaque rubber keys. Its maximum dimensions are 8.08” long, 2.36” wide and 1.47” thick (20.5cm by 6.0cm by 3.7cm), but as the remote is ergonomically curved its average dimensions are not as bulky. For instance, the iMON only measures 1.93” wide (4.9cm) and as little as 1.0” thick (2.6cm) at the midpoint. The remote is light, weighing in at only 5.3 ounces (150 grams) with the two required AAA batteries, or 4.6 ounces (130 grams) without.
The entire surface is gently arced from top to bottom, with the apex close to the menu joystick button cluster. The back of the remote is inversely shaped, giving it a telephone handset-like profile. The case sports a sizeable bulge on the back, directly under the joystick, designed to wedge between your index and middle fingers and help keep the remote firmly in place while thumbing the menu controls.
The iMON’s sides are round and smooth, with no sharp points or irritating angles. The upper and lower case mouldings fit together well. Although I can’t see any fastening screws in use, the plastic housing is quite thick and resists any attempt at lateral twisting. It should prove durable enough to easily withstand minor tumbles onto the floor.