Review: Keyspan RF Remote for Front Row

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Keyspan RF Remote for Front Row

Pros: The Keyspan RF Remote requires no installation, and works just like the Apple Remote to control Front Row. Unlike other remote, Keyspans remote has full support for quick scrolling, plus forwarding and rewinding. Because it uses radio frequency (RF), no line-of-sight is needed. The remote works through walls and furniture, even when 50 feet away.


Keyspan RF Remote for Front Row
Available at Amazon
$30.99, free shipping, save 22%

Cons: The Keyspan RF Remote is wide and awkward to hold when compared to the Apple Remote. Sleep button is too easy to accidentally press.

Price: $30.99, free shipping

Required: Mac OS X 10.4.1 or above, available USB port, Front Row software installed

Verdict:

Highly Recommended

There are two groups of Front Row users who would benefit from an RF Remote: those with a Mac that included an IR Receiver and Apple Remote, and those without. While recent Macs come with Front Row, the Keyspan RF Remote is a good replacement for the Apple Remote for users who want to control media from another room or behind walls. And for those who installed Front Row using Enabler, the Keyspan RF remote is an excellent remote control solution because it works almost exactly the same as the Apple Remote.

Usability

The bundle RF Remote for Front Row comes with the RF remote (plus battery) and a USB RF receiver. The installation takes seconds. Switch the remote on, and plug in the USB receiver. The first time (and only the first time) you connect the USB receiver the Keyboard Setup Assistant appears, but you simply close it and continue. By default, the remote and the receiver are paired to communicate with each other, but if needed the pairing is simple and outlined in the Quick Start Guide.

Once youve plugged in the USB receiver, youre set. Thats the beauty of the RF Remote. It just works. There is no extra software to run or configure; no need to map keys to buttons.

The RF Remote works just like the Apple Remote. Hit Menu and Front Row appears (though, Front Row must already been installed). You can browse and navigate Front Row easily. Tough what makes the RF Remote really shine is its ability to quickly scroll and forward/rewind just as you would with the Apple Remote.

With other products like the Griffin AirClick and Keyspan Express, you are simply using a remote whos buttons have been mapped to a specific keyboard key. This presents a problem, say –if you were trying to scroll a very long list of Artists, by pressing and holding the down button. The Apple Remote and the Keyspan RF Remote both recognize that you are pressing and holding the down button, and so it progressively scrolls the list faster. With either you can quickly scroll a playlist, or are able to fast-forward/rewind a song.

Other remotes that simply map buttons to keys dont realize you are pressing and holding the down button. Either the remote simulates one hit of the down key on your keyboard (and you have to continuously hit the remote button to scroll the list), or the remote simply simulates a bunch a key hits. This means it takes considerably longer to scroll playlists. Also, these remotes cant forward/rewind a song or video because Front Row must know that you are pressing and holding the left or right key.

Because the Keyspan RF Remote was created specifically for Front Row and doesnt rely on mapping keys to buttons, it performs like the Apple Remote. For Macs without the new IR receiver or Apple Remote, the Keyspan RF Remote is an excellent Front Row remote solution.

Convenience and Range

Even those users with new Macs that include the Apple Remote might want to consider the Keyspan RF Remote, if only because its RF and not IR. The Apple Remote uses infrared to communicate with the computer. Although line-of-sight isnt necessary as long as you are in the same room, the Apple Remote was limited to about 25 feet in my testing.

The Keyspan RF Remote uses radio frequency. As a result, the signal travels through walls and furniture. I was able to shuffle and pause music from about 50 feet away, through walls and floors in nearly every spot of a two story house. If you are in the kitchen, downstairs, or even in the next room, the Apple Remote fails. You are chained to using it in the same room your Mac is in.

The RF Remote though, works perfectly fine when behind obstacles like walls. Its very liberating and lets you control Front Row around your home. I even put the RF Remote in a Zip-Lock bag and shuffled songs while I was in the shower.

The Keyspan RF Remote is certainly an improvement on the Apple Remotes range (60+ feet vs. 30 feet), and more importantly its much more convenient and flexible. Current Apple Remote users may be allot happier with the Keyspan alternative.

Design and Build

Although the Keyspan RF may function like the Apple Remote, it sure doesnt look as good. Apple is known for their superb industrial design, and the Apple remote is no exception. The Keyspan RF Remote looks good enough to sit next to my Mac, but is not as refined as Apples. The Keyspan remote is wide and awkward to hold in comparison. One of my gripes is that the MENU button isnt situated below the others (with the Apple Remote you just rock your thumb back and hit the MENU button with your thumb joint).


keyspan-remote-close-up.jpg

There are also some extra buttons that leave you wondering why they where added. Apart from the 6 standard buttons also found on the Apple Remote, Keyspan adds an extra 3:

  • Mute: useless. Back in the 90s youd hit Mute on the TV to answer the phone. Today, with the advent of TiVO you instead hit pause. Although it will be used by some, it takes away from the RF Remotes simplicity.
  • Eject: useful. If you have a Mac mini with no keyboard serving content to you TV, an eject button may help. But again, it takes away from simplicity.
  • Sleep: stupid. On the Apple Remote, to put your Mac to sleep you simply hold the play-pause button for 5 seconds. This doesnt work with Keyspans remote, so I guess they just added a sleep button. Ive already accidently put my Mac to sleep twice.

I also dont like the USB receivers design. Its a bit ugly to be honest, and the bright red LED light Keyspan chose to use ended up covered with tape. Though, the receiver ended up hidden underneath my desk anyway so its excusable.

Conclusion

Simply put, if you dont have a remote for Front Row I highly recommend purchasing Keyspans RF Remote. Its the only alternative remote fully compatible with Front Row, working perfectly right out of the box.


Keyspan RF Remote for Front Row
Available at Amazon
$30.99, free shipping, save 22%

For those using other remotes, including Apples own, the Keyspan remote deserves serious consideration because of the increased range and flexibility RF provides.

Verdict:

Highly Recommended

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36 responses to “Review: Keyspan RF Remote for Front Row”   RSS

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  1. 1Martin Malina
    Thanks for the article. This remote looks good. I would like to add, that Apple remote and this one are not the only ones that support fast scrolling. Im using my Sony Ericsson K750i for controlling Front Row using a HID profile and when for example i hold down the key mapped to down, the scrolling is getting faster and faster until i release the key. I think thats exactly what you meant by fast scrolling.
  2. 2MIPSpt
    Im also using my mobile phone with Salling Clicker to control Front Row.
    This remote seems very useful but Id hate to have have that USB thing sticking out of my PB 12. Plus I think that bluetooth has a better range (right?).
    Thanks anyway for the post, Its always good to know the alternatives available.[Andrew responds: Heck no! I think Bluetooth is limited to a few feet.]
  3. 3modusop
    Airclick is now fully compatible with FR (scrolling / FF/Rew) using Proxi. Go to www.griffintechnology.com and download the beta. Kinda awkward to fake the menu button, but at least you can get through the long lists faster now
  4. 4Martin Malina
    I dont think BT has got a better range. BT doesnt usually work even in the next room. And i agree with you about the USB receiver – i wouldnt like it either, but if you have iMac or Mac mini, then its different.
  5. 5Andrew
    Re: AirClickIll try the Proxi beta along with AirClick.What I dislike about the AirClick is that it has an unintuitive button layout for Front Row, and is missing a sixth MENU button. Though the remote is small and looks great. Griffins industrial design is as good as Apples.
  6. 6MIPSpt
    Correct! Bluetooth is limited to 30 feet. Rf has almost twice the range
  7. 7Jon
    Hmm but the good thing is, that if you map the key to start FrontRow to Cmd + Esc, then pressing it inside Front Row will make it act like the Esc Key (=Menu), right?
    You will only miss a way to leave from anywhere inside Front Row without pressing the Menu Button x timesAnyways, I also use my K750i with a HID works perfectly for me 🙂
  8. 8cmice
    i bought the keyspan and use it for my powerbook 17 with frontrow enabler. The remote works great but only draw back is i cannot use the menu button to call up frontrow Andrew, do you have a work around?
  9. 9Andrew
    cmice,Are you using the RF remote for Front Row. If you are then Im not sure what you are talking about. My experience has shown that the RF remote flawlessly controls Front Row, including the MENU button. Check to make sure the shortcut for Front Row is command-escape. You should call Keyspan if the button is not working.
  10. 10cmice
    Thanks Andrew, turn out the eject and menu buttons doesnt work on the remoteexchange another one and work perfectly.
  11. 11Andres
    Can the romote moves slides in Keynote during a presentation, or is it just for FR.
    BTW: Im guessing Apples control can do this.
  12. 12Andrew
    The remote works well with both iTunes and Keynote when they are in the forefront.In Keynote you can move advance and go-back within you slides easily. The MENU button exits the presentation.In iTunes, the remote only serves to more back and forward within the currently playlist, and for play-pause action. You cant change the volume, but you can mute it.
  13. 13Luis.
    This might be a stupid question, butDo you think that i can find this widget on an apple store?
    Im not in the US nor Canada, So its kind expensive to have it delivered here in Mexico. But the thing is that Ill be visiting Las vegas in a couple of weeks, or do you have any other suggestions of where I can find it in LV?Andrew, thank you! you have brought happiness to my ibook g4 1.42!
  14. 14Andrew
    Luis,I suspect this will become a very popular product, especially with people who already have an Apple Remote. Call up the independent Mac dealers in Vegas while youre there. They tend to carry a greater selection of Mac related products.
  15. 15David
    One thing I experienced, and perhaps other users should be aware of:If you plug in the Keyspan receiver into a USB1 port, DVD playback stutters.If you move it to a USB2 port, it works perfectly.

    I have tested this on all USB1 equipment available to me (G4 towers, early iMac FP). I also tested it on a 15 1.67 GHz Powerbook and found that here, too, there is a difference whether it is in the USB1 or USB2 port.

  16. 16David
    So, we got FRONT ROW BACK!
    Awesome!I might have a dumb questioni have an apple remote, i also have a Pismoummm. Any thoughts on maybe using the Apple Remote w/ the pismo? Thoughts , suggestions?Thanks,

    David

  17. 17Dennis
    I also became interested using this KeySpan remote. I ordered it al the way from the US to my home town near Rotterdam, The Netherlands. I must say I like this remote very much!!I found one thing that bothered me a little bit. I have a Harman-Kardon USB Subwoofer (jellyfish of rain fountain thingy) and the classic (glass) Apple Pro egg speakers. The ones with the mini-jack. When I listen to music using FrontRow and press the Volume down button, on the Keyspan remote, only the volume of the Apple speakers go down. The volume of the subwoofer doesnt. But when I mute the sound, using the remote, the subwoofer also mutes. A little bit annoying. When, in FrontRow, I press the cursor down arrow both the Subwoofer and the Apple speakers go down in volume.
  18. 18Justin
    Interesting. ill check this remote out
  19. 19Justin
    Gasp, the price went up overnight 🙁
  20. 20Justin
    Hehe, it went back down. Only 15 bucks. Thanks!
  21. 21pketh
    anybody with this know if the transmitter can be plugged into the apple keyboard usb port or does it require a powered usb port source? thanks 🙂
  22. 22Dennis
    @pketh
    Yes, the USB port of the Apple keyboard can be used. The transmitter does not need a powered-usb port.
  23. 23Tom
    I dont know, may be user error, but I have a problem with this remote. The Front Row shortcut is set as Cmd+Esc and Front Row does start when the Menu button is pushed, However, it also brings up the Are you sure you want to Shut Down Your Computer dialog, which overlays the Front Row view. Anyone else had this problem, and how do I fix it?
  24. 24Mark G.
    Ive installed front row on a pismo powerbook w/ tiger, thats dedicated for itunesthe install went smooth however when front row runs the screen goes blank. Im thinking the video card cant support the interface? If theres a workaround please advise!
  25. 25Jack
    Wow, the remote looks pretty cool and useful too. Thanks for sharing the information.
  26. 26Erik
    i got the remote in the mail today and tried to use it on my 20 inch intel imac didnt work well at all. wouldnt let me fast forward through a song, just kept skipping to the next track. it also only worked about 1 out of 6 clicks.. very annoying. i called keyspan and they said it was a faulty model and would send me a replacement, sure hope it works, cause i just blew $30 and this thing is horrible!
  27. 27macjasp
    Has anyone seen the new eyeTV DTT receiver? It comes with eyeTV 2.2.2 which allows you to use the apple remote to operate eyeTV and front roweven if you have a G3/G4 powerbook / ibook!!!! How cool!www.elgato.comIve got a miglia TV mini but its already on ebay now this baby is available!
  28. 28CavemanUK
    Dont know if this has been asked but is it possible to get an apple remote working on a mac that doesnt have a built-in ir receiver? is there a compatible reciever or even a hack? i know the remotes are available but dont know if there is a receiver?
  29. 29CavemanUK
    oooh.. .just saw entry 27 hmmm
  30. 30macjasp
    I can confirm i have bought the apple remote and eyetv DTT receiver and it does work!So my G4 powerbook now operates front row from an apple remote!
  31. 31Stremmie
    Will this remote also work with MediaCentral?
  32. 32Andy W.
    Am thinking of buying new eyetv DTT for my iMac G4, wanted to check if any of you guys knew if the apple remote would definatly work with my mac alongside frontrow and eyetv, cheers!
  33. 33Luke
    Hi. Enabler works a treat. Only trouble with the keyspan frontrow remote is that it wont work with my miglia tvmini (australia) in the same way the apple remote is supposed to. ie: pressing menu button calls up the eyetv menu instead of frontrow when eyetv is running.Any suggestions?
  34. 34Mark
    Im having a similar problem to Luke, but on my Mac the force quit menu is brought up. Can the remote buttons be remapped? How? It doesnt show up in the mouse/keyboard settings.
  35. 35central183
    Hey I may have a solution to those people who cant trigger front row with the menu button. I Realized that my mac had a PC keyboard and that I had remapped the Option and Command keys to for that keyboard so they would be in the same physical location as a mac keyboard. The Keyspan remote does not like this. Go into System Preferences and then to Keyboard & Mouse then the Modifier Keys. . . then push the button for Restore Defaults It worked like a charm for me. The bad part is that if you want to use your PC keyboard, the modifier keys will be mapped backwards now.
  36. 36josh
    Can this remote be used as a presentations remote besides a Front Row. Hopefully someone has an answer, wanted to kill two birds with one remote.