ATI provided us with the unreleased 1.4 version of the Remote Wonder
drivers which add a ton of functionality to the remote. The software that ships with the remote only allows you to assign a few simple keystrokes but the new version adds more assignable commands along with the ability to launch applications from the buttons. One cool feature is the ability to assign arbitrary to the buttons (i.e. if you want to assign CNTL-ALT-L to a button you can do that). This allows you to assign hotkey functions inside applications to a button on the remote.
The new version also enables you to assign applications to the buttons. You simply surf your system and select the executable of the application you want to assign to the button. The disappointing thing is that you have to assign an executable. The application will not allow you to enter a URL or parameters for the application. This would be nice so that you could assign commonly visited Web sites or have buttons assigned to audio/video streams on the Internet. You can get around this by selecting the Internet Explorer or Media Player Executable and then passing it a URL but that’s kind of tricky and it doesn’t always work. The input box only accepts parameters in upper case so if you are accessing a stream on a server that is case sensitive it will not work. (“http://www.woxy.com/stream/wma.asx” works while “HTTP://WWW.WOXY.COM/STREAM/WMA.ASX” does not).
Another benefit of the new software is the addition of AMMO (Application Manipulation Modular Objects) plug-ins. AMMO is a software developer kit that allows third party developers to create plug-in modules for the Remote Wonder
. This is a pretty cool concept since plug-ins can be created that allow you to control any function of an application with the remote control. The latest version of the drivers comes with two plug-ins, one for WinAmp and one for PowerPoint. (addtional plug-ins can be found at http://membres.lycos.fr/remotew/
The plug-ins are a double edged sword, though. The WinAmp plug-in is a good example of this. Rather than using the Windows system controls for volume and muting, it uses WinAmp’s controls. The problem is WinAmp’s volume maxes out at a lower level than Windows and the mute command in WinAmp sets the volume to zero rather than actually toggling the sound off at the system level(which means you have to crank the volume back up rather than just restoring the sound). This is a small thing. but it still can be frustrating. The included PowerPoint slide is also pretty solid but there’s not a lot of complexity in conducting a Power Point presentation.
One thing they could have included in the software is a task switching application (similar to the one that Logitech includes in the current version of their mouse ware drivers). You can bind a button to the ALT-TAB combination but all that lets you do is switch between two applications. If you have three applications open, you have to mouse down and use the task bar. You could get around this if you are using one of the dedicated function buttons (DVD, TV, Web) but a dedicated task switching app would be a fantastic addition. Another addition to the wish list would be a pop-up keyboard app that allows you to enter text with the thumb pad. This would help eliminate the need for a keyboard altogether but it’s not an absolute necessity.
Page 2 of 3