May 13 2006
Keyspan RF Remote for Front Row
Back in early April, Keyspan announced its RF Remote for Front Row. As the name would suggest, it has been designed for use with all the new Macs that come with Apple’s Front Row multimedia software preinstalled.
I hear you, I hear you: why would anyone need a remote when all Front Row equipped Macs come with Apple’s own remote? Good question. The answer? RF or Radio Frequency. Apple’s remote uses infrared light to transmit instruction to the Mac, which works just fine unless you are using your Front Row equipped Mac to send music to your Airport Express unit in the kitchen while you prepare dinner. Infrared signals are limited to line of sight or, in other words, if you can’t see the Mac, the remote won’t work. Radio frequency works through walls, furniture, people and pets.
The ability to control Front Row from 60 feet away through all manner of obstacles allows you to incorporate your Mac mini into your home theater or sound system and have it hidden away. Be creative! Make the ultimate multimedia Barcalounger: hide the Mac mini inside and install a rumbler, a few speakers and run the video signal out to your big screen TV.
The Keyspan RF Remote for Front Row has 9 buttons which allow you to control Front Row software, eject a CD or DVD, put the Mac to sleep and then wake it up again. Best of all there’s no software to install. In fact, when you plug in the USB dongle, Apple’s Keyboard Setup Assistant kicks in to help and all you have to do is tell it to go away. Just quit! You install the dongle and you’re done!! Press the Menu button on the remote and, “woww,” the Front Row interface washes over the screen.
Now what if you don’t have an official Front Row equipped Mac? Will the Keyspan RF Remote for Front Row work with a Mac that did not come with Front Row installed but that has had Front Row, let’s say, forced upon it? The short answer is, yes. The long answer is, it isn’t a perfect experience and that is not really the fault of the remote but more the fact that old machines run like older machines. Otherwise, Front Row and this remote get along great regardless of how the software got on your Mac.
In the end, the Keyspan RF Remote for Front Row, with its sleek and simple form factor, completes with Apple’s own remote on looks and kicks its butt in power and versatility. If you’re planning to use your Front Row Mac as a media center, you simply must have this remote. And, if you are willing to live with the inconveniences of using software in an unsupported way, for USD$39.99, you can even have the Front Row experience on your old Mac.