Media Center remotes are a dime a dozen, but, judging by the threads which frequently pop up on AVSForum, it appears as if full-sized keyboards are preferred by a number of users. Some of the popular options for controlling HTPCs include the diminutive Logitech diNovo Mini and the Lenovo N5902 keyboard / 'trackball' combo. The Logitech K400 with an integrated touchpad is also quite good and economical (and my personal HTPC solution for now), but it isn't really ideal as an extended alternative for a mouse. At CES, we went around the show floor looking for HTPC control solutions. In particular, we paid attention to the full size offerings. A separate mouse is out of the question in a HTPC setup, and mostly, we were bundled with either a touchpad or a trackball. The wireless communication happened in either the 5 GHz or 2.4 GHz band with a specialized USB receiver on the PC side. In some cases, the communication protocol of choice was Bluetooth. Communication devices using Bluetooth can also interface with tablets supporting Bluetooth.

Adesso:

Adesso had the yet-to-be-launched WKB-4150DW Bluetooth 3.0 aluminum touchpad keyboard on display. It is mainly intended to interface with tablets, but the build and features make it an ideal HTPC companion. The differentiating feature of this product is the option to use either 2.4 GHz (with a dedicated USB receiver) or Bluetooth for communication using a switch at the rear of the unit.

Older keyboard / trackpad / trackball combo models were also on display.

IOGear:

IOGear wasn't introducing any new keyboard / mouse combos, but they had their full lineup on display. The GKM571R appeared to be quite interesting given its minimalist design. The unit even turns off completely when the upper lid is closed. The on-lap keyboard with optical trackball and scroll-wheel, GKM581R, in addition to being an ergonomic alternative for HTPCs, is also compatible with multiple game consoles (including the PS3). The GKM681R retains the same compatibility of the GKM581R, but in a compact form factor, without the on-lap ergonomic design. The GKM561R has a laser trackball for 400, 800 or 1200 dpi settings. The unit is MCE-ready with appropriate shortcuts and also retains the game console compatibility of the previous two models.

Rapoo:

Rapoo had a variety of Windows 8 peripherals on display. Of interest to the HTPC crowd were the wireless multimedia touchpad keyboard (E9180P) and the wireless illuminated keyboard with touchpad (E9090P). Both of these communicate in the 5 GHz spectrum, avoiding interference with Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and other 2.4 GHz devices. There is support for customizable touch gestures for personalizing the navigation experience. The latter features inductive wireless charging and the backlight is adjustable.

We are looking forward to having some of these models over for review towards the end of this quarter.

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  • co.bra - Monday, January 14, 2013 - link

    I don't understand why they put the trackpad or trackball to the side of the keyboard. If you put the trackpad or trackball in the middle of the keyboard you don't have to move your wrist or bend it in an awkward position when you switch between typing and navigating. Reply
  • REALfreaky - Monday, January 14, 2013 - link

    Imagine standing while operating the keyboard/mouse. That's why. Reply
  • co.bra - Monday, January 14, 2013 - link

    I don't see the difference unless you can't put it on a surface, but then this form factor would be unusable anyway, even if the trackpad is on the side. Reply
  • nombrecinq - Tuesday, January 15, 2013 - link

    I actually have an older IOGear keyboard with the mouse buttons on the left and the trackball on the right. I've gotten totally used to it and I actually like it! My 15 month old really likes it too and goes to town on it, so when he successfully destroys it I will probably be getting one of the new models... Reply
  • Y0ssar1an22 - Monday, January 14, 2013 - link

    Hi,

    I'd be interested in seeing a thorough review of HTPC inputs. I've had two un-reliable Logitech diNovo Minis and am looking for a replacement. The Iogear GKM571R gets decidedly mixed reviews from users. There doesn't seem to be a quality solution.

    Thanks!
    Reply
  • nathanddrews - Monday, January 14, 2013 - link

    I bought this a while ago. Love it. Works great with Ubuntu XBMC, too.

    http://www.amazon.com/dp/B003UE52ME
    Reply
  • justinmalek0 - Monday, January 14, 2013 - link

    I have this remote too. Absolutely love it. I use it with Win7 and with some remapped keys I no longer have to hold the function key to get to the multimedia buttons Reply
  • Avendit - Monday, January 14, 2013 - link

    These are all missing the part to become the final all in 1 - the addition of a learning IR remote. There are some ebay specials that do bluetooth keyboard +trackpad or ball +IR, but these don't look to be the same quality as the dinovo mini, or these devices. Yet I'm reluctant to shell out on another similar device until IR is part and parcel and integrated.

    Unless I'm missing something?? (Is there an IR blaster I can relay commands from the dinovo to my amp via the PC that I just haven't seen?)

    Avendit
    Reply
  • EnzoFX - Monday, January 14, 2013 - link

    A remote. I don't want the WMC standard remotes, they are cheap and little to no features other than having a directional pad for navigating anything outside of media center. I also don't need the million+ devices control of a Harmony. Let alone the all too standard mushy buttons and bad layout. I really like the remotes coming out with google tv devices lately. Simple upfront layout, with the back having a full qwerty remote. Bluetooth connectivity should be standard. Sony makes some good looking remotes on said devices. I even like the one on their NSZ-GT1, trackpad isn't all that important to me. In my use, a big keyboard is kind of fail. If you have to resort to a large keyboard and mouse/trackpad, then you're doing HTPC wrong haha. If you're seriously going to browse or quickly look something up, then you're better doing that on your smartphone or tablet.

    Oh, and yes of course I want it to at least be able to turn my TV off/on + volume, IR blaster built in to the remote.
    Reply
  • EnzoFX - Monday, January 14, 2013 - link

    Oh, and another obvious feature: Ability to map at least a FEW of the buttons, you know, to launch our HTPC applications of choice. We don't need to do EVERYTHING via a directional pad. I don't want to be navigating more than I need to. HTPC's are about convenience. Reply

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