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I have just dedicated a computer to my living room TV, to watch Hulu, movies, etc. You can think of it as a Media Center TV but I hardly use Media Center itself.

What features would distinguish a good wireless, integrated keyboard / mouse combo for this environment? Range? Wireless technology? Type of integrated mouse? Size?

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19 Answers 19

I'd use the Logitech MX Air Mouse for a mouse. Pic here:

Mouse pic

A bit pricey new but they seem to be going for 50-80 on ebay, which is a much better price. As far as keyboards go, i would recommend using something like this. You can use a USB to PS2 adapter to use USB with that keyboard (they offer it at that page).

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How about an AlphaGrip

AlphaGrip

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5  
+1, I don't know what that is, or what it does, but it looks cool and I want one. –  jtimberman Aug 26 '09 at 6:59
1  
It's a full keyboard (with a trackball -- the superior pointing device for SuperUsers!) contorted into an over-sized game controller for masochistic users. Some how they failed to build in a bluetooth radio so you have to use a 15 foot USB cord... :-( –  beggs Aug 26 '09 at 7:35

This Lenovo Multimedia Remote with keyboard thing looks solid; although I initially saw positive feedback, it seems more mixed now -- see video review.

lenovo multimedia remote

There is also the Rii Mini Bluetooth keyboard -- see video Review.

rii mini bluetooth keyboard

Any 2.4GHz radio wireless / trackball keyboard is generally workable, but stay away from infrared in my experience.

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I like the Adesso SlimTouch Wireless 2.4 GHz RF Mini Touchpad Keyboard:

Adesso SlimTouch Wireless 2.4 GHz RF Mini Touchpad Keyboard

My room is big and I sit ~15 feet from the TV and HTPC. None of the other cheap "wireless" keyboards that I tried (infrared and Bluetooth) had sufficient range -- the mouse pointer would jump or I'd lose keystrokes. Whereas, with the Adesso, as long as the batteries are charged, it works like a charm. I use 4 AAA Sanyo Eneloop rechargeables which last quite long compared to regular NiMH batteries.

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2  
Having the keyboard and ball/pad/nub integrated into one is crucial for HTPC use - it makes it like one big, convenient remote. I use the similar Adesso keyboard with optical trackball. It works great, although the build quality seems pretty poor. amazon.com/Adesso-Wireless-Keyboard-Optical-Trackball/dp/… –  Kevin L. Aug 22 '09 at 20:35

logitech dinovo mini

My HTPC rocks a Logitech diNovo Mini They're costly, but the built-in trackpad makes it unbeatable for those interfaces that were not designed for a remote. See the video review for more details.

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I like my Microsoft Remote Keyboard for Windows XP Media Center Edition

enter image description here

It's:

  1. small
  2. uses infrared and gets better wireless quality than other MS keyboards
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2  
I had this and really, really disliked it -- the pointer nub is just terrible –  Jeff Atwood Jun 12 '10 at 8:38

Wireless keyboards for HTPC seem to be a love or hate proposition, with most trending toward "hate".

I've been using a generic RF wireless keyboard + "nub" pointer for a while that was just … OK. I decided to research this again and see if there are any new wireless keyboard/mouse combos there for a HTPC that people tend to recommend with (almost) no reservations.

Surprisingly, the Iogear GKM561R keyboard + trackball combo seems to come out on top. It's the only one I can find that seems practical and has almost unanimously positive reviews.

Iogear GKM561R

Just ordered, but once I get it, I'll be sure to post impressions.


review: wow, I can totally back up all the positive reviews of this thing! I plugged it in and it "just worked" with no syncing. The sides have mild rubberized grippy edges which you can't see in the picture unless you squint, but is a very nice touch. And oh my god having an actual scroll wheel is like mana from heaven! I had no idea how much I missed a scroll wheel (and it's even clickable for middle click)! The optical trackball works great.. and being able to set the sensitivity, in hardware, of the optical trackball is a nice touch as well. Overall, this is easily the best of the 5 different models I've tried for HTPC integrated keyboard/mouse duties to date, and I can recommend it without reservation. Compact, smartly designed, and it has all the core functions you'll need for a HTPC.

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I bought this Trust Wireless Entertainment Keyboard for the trackball and scroll wheel (only one I found to have both).

enter image description here

It is has very good range but the plastic quality isn't very good, it feels a little heavy and cheap in hands. Still, I think it is the best option out there for now.

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If you can live without the mouse then I would recommend the Boxee Remote.

enter image description here

I'm using it together with my XBMC and it's excellent! It's a snappy dual side remote - basic navigation on top and qwerty keyboard on the bottom. It's smaller than an average remote but I find the size is just right. The actual range in my apartment is about 10 meters (it even works through a wall!).

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I got a Dell Wireless Trackball Keyboard included with a Zino HD purchase. It's very good, but don't know if it's sold separately.

enter image description here

I thinks that it's a custom build from the Adesso Keyboard. They have several other alternatives rebranded Keysonic, as Jeff points in the comments

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If you have an iPod, iPad or iPhone, Hippo Remote Pro can't be beat:

  • Infinite number of customized interfaces (mouse, keyboard, WMC, Boxee, iTunes, etc).
  • Works with hardware you already have
  • No line of site required, control your media center from anywhere your wifi network extends.
  • Only $4.99

Hippo Remote Pro WMC interface

This is pretty much the best option I've seen, as Home Theater PCs typically require you to use more than one application to get all of the content. Sometimes you'll be using WMC and then need to switch to the desktop to open Hulu or iTunes.

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I have a "C2" from Ace of Sweden which works very well for me. It's not for typing long novels or coding with, though.

It features long range 2.4GHz communication (10 metres = approx 32 feet) and it looks like this: enter image description here

The size is 28x11 centimetres (11x4.3 inches).

They recently released the "C7" model which is rechargeable, which I think is nice. There is also a variant with trackball instead of touchpad. It's even smaller.

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Since I cannot post a comment yet, I have to post an answer: My HTPC is controled by a combination of an Logitech Harmony and a Logitech diNovo Mini. The Harmony is a really good piece of hardware, however there are some shortcommings with the diNovo Mini:

  • There are no function keys (honestly: not that big a deal and I do not miss them)
  • Touchpad behaves differently than a touchpad that is used in a notebook: You can move the cursor with the touchpad, but it does not recognize "click gestures" like a notebook would. To click an item, you have to use a different button.
  • On the German version, some special characters (like our umlauts) are at really strange and unexpected places, especially if you are used to a "normal" keyboard layout
  • Only the main label of a key is illuminated by the backlight. Secondary labels (like umlauts) are not backlit.

Based on these experiences, I would not buy the keyboard again.

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Personally, I use my Motorola Droid + Gmote app. It provides a touchpad, keyboard and media player controls. Preferably you have be on the same wifi network, but I've also set up a public IP/port such that I can control the media PC without being on wifi. You can use a service like http://www.no-ip.com/ to do this for free if you do not have a static IP address.

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I've been using a Microsoft Wireless Entertainment Desktop 7000 for the last couple of years, along with a IR MCE remote control. It has a tiny little touchpad on the right side, which you use with your thumb, with the mouse buttons being on the left side.

Microsoft Wireless Entertainment Desktop 7000

The keyboard and mouse connect through Bluetooth, but the range is not very good. You have to be no further than around 10 feet from the Bluetooth transceiver, so I had to get a long USB extension cable to go along the wall towards my sofa. Otherwise, it's great. It feels like a pretty decent laptop keyboard.

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I may be totally off the wall here, but really we are talking about two different situations. The real question and the one that dictates the device is if your TV's media PC is in range of a bluetooth device or not. If you are not you are pretty much limited to something over IR or the network. If you are it opens up a huge range of bluetooth devices.

Any of the devices on these answers on this post are good for Bluetooth. But in my situation I couldn't use Bluetooth so I choose to use a combination of both IR and the Network to make it work for me.

Here is what I use.

I use an app for the iPad and iPhone to control my media PC through VNC. (VNC is important because it doesn't log you out like RDP) There are many great apps free and paid in the Apple App Store, so pick your favorite. VNC isn't the gretest solution for the whole family, so I also have a Logitech Harmoney One that is programmed for their most common tasks of watching TV, Movies, Etc.

Logitech Harmoney One

Hopefully this helps. In addition to the above there is also a Logitech Touch Mouse. This apps opperate over your network, and have both mouse and keyboard functionality. I have played with these a little, but my wife still likes the physical remote. Your mileage may vary.

Logitech Touch Mouse

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There is also software out there which allows you to control your Mediacenter through your iPhone or Android phone. I have used it before. And it works most of the time, although the apps I've tried behaved rather strangely on occasion.

Benefits:

  • You can control your Mediacenter from anywhere within the Wireless LAN.
  • No additional device (like a keyboard) necessary

Downsides:

  • You need a Wireless LAN (not much of a downside for most)
  • Certain functionality is limited on a small screen (maybe on an iPad/tablet pc this would be more awesome)
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Wireless Logitech diNovo Edge with built-in mouse control. The diNovo Mini looks interesting too.

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I use an iPod Touch with Touchpad Elite. One nice thing about this remote keyboard/trackpad app is that it uses VNC instead of a proprietary protocol, which is particularly nice if you are controlling an OS X machine, as you won't need to install additional software on the machine.

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