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Are You Key-Bored? Maybe It's Time For Something New

Working Remote

The MediaPilot includes a directional pad, buttons and a scroll wheel, which allow it to function as a mouse. The scroll wheel was engineered well and I found it to be superior to most scroll wheels on traditional mice.

These are all great features, but what really sets the MediaPilot apart is its ability to function as a full fledged infrared remote. With a small port in the front of the keyboard and some simple software on your PC, you can program it (while docked) to operate up to 8 different audio or video devices. The software that does this has some nice features, such as letting you dictate which device will always be controlled with the volume keys for instance, but it can't overcome a industry wide problem: proprietary standards. Yes, that's pretty much an oxymoron - and a subject for a later article - but with each equipment manufacturer having some 15 different codes for each of their products, setting up the device to work with my DVD player, TV and VCR was a lengthy ordeal. In order to setup the keyboard to control each device, you have to cycle through all of the codes via brute force until you find the correct one that will operate your equipment. Not Belkin's fault, but rather that of the industry as a whole.

Once you do have the codes set up, the unit functions very well. A toggle switch on the top of the unit lets you switch between "PC" and "AV" functions, and gives most of the buttons dual functions. The scroll wheel becomes a great channel changer in TV mode, while the selection buttons for TV, DVD, tuner and so on in TV mode become My Computer, Email, and Calculator.

Another feature worth mentioning is the MediaPilot's ability to program its keys with up to 96 different functions. Programming them was a relatively simple process with the software, and let me launch programs and perform other tasks with ease.