You might have seen a cool looking air mouse on my HTPC introduction video. I have been featuring the Logitech MX Air Mouse many times here at mymediaexperience.com, but this time we will have a look at how suitable it is as a remote control for the XBMC media center.
When it comes to controlling your media center, most people assume that the traditional remote control such as Logitech Harmony are the ideal for controlling the XBMC media center. In this review, I will explain why my Logitech Harmony remote is dusting in the drawer.
Why a remote control is not an ideal solution?
The obvious benefit of the traditional remote control as a HTPC controller is that all the people are familiar how to use it. However, when it comes to controlling the XBMC, there are couple of reasons why a remote is not an ideal solution.
Setting it up can be complicated
Firstly, getting a remote control receiver working on your computer (particularly with Linux) can be a complicated procedure. If your computer does not come with a built-in IR receiver, you need to buy an external USB IR-receiver. You also need to make sure that your remote has a uninterrupted visibility to the receiver so that IR-signals gets recognized.
Secondly, the traditional remote control is using either infrared or radio frequency to send commands to your HTPC. The responsiveness is not too good when you are scrolling through a large media library, making it frustrating and slow to browse through your media library.
Too many buttons
Thirdly, you will need to program the special keys used in the XBMC to be able to fully utilize the remote control. In fact, in reality you do not need many keys when controlling the XBMC (see Apple’s simple remote control design). Too many buttons can simply confuse the user and make the user experience less comfortable.
Don’t get me wrong, I would like to control the XBMC media center with my Logitech Harmony Remote, but it just has not been as pleasant user experience as I would have liked. However, after using the Logitech MX Air Mouse for over 2 years now, I can still say that it is the best accessory I have ever purchased for my HTPC.
Why Logitech MX Air Mouse is a better alternative?
1. Control in the air: It feels like a remote control, but you can control the cursor by waving your hand in the air.
2. Wheel-less scroll design: You can quickly browse a large media library with the unique wheel-less scroll design.
3. All the buttons needed: It has all the buttons needed for controlling the XBMC (left hand click for selecting, right hand click for going back, volume button to adjust volume, wheel-less scroll to browse).
4. More flexibility: You can navigate the Internet browser with the mouse (which you cannot do practically with the remote control).
5. No line-of-sight needed: The USB receiver uses a RF-signals, so you do not need to have line-of-sight when controlling the XBMC with the mouse.
How does it look like in practice?
Finally, let’s have a look at how the Logitech MX Air Mouse works in practice with the XBMC Live Linux media center.
Still looking for the ideal controller for your media center? Have a look at our top 3 controller comparison here.