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The Gyration Air Music Remote is absolutely awesome when it comes to controlling the cursor of a home-theater PC. But this device doesn’t deliver on its bigger promise to be a high-end universal remote control.
Like all Gyration remotes, this one uses a gyroscope to determine its own position in three-dimensional space. With its position established, the remote translates those coordinates to move a mouse cursor on the two-dimensional plane of a computer screen. Hold the remote in front of you, push the primary button, move your wrist up, and the cursor moves up. Point the remote to the left and the cursor moves the to the left -- and so on. Buttons to the right and left of the primary button perform the same functions as the left and right buttons of a conventional mouse.
The device doesn’t need a surface to operate on, it’s extremely responsive, the required wrist movements fell very natural, and the learning curve needed to achieve precision cursor control is as flat as a pancake. All these factors make it superior to both a wireless mouse (which requires a flat surface) and a D-pad (which is much more difficult to control with any level of precision). However, all that said, you need more than a mouse to control a PC, even if only to enter URLs into a web browser. And while the Air Music has a telephone-style alpha-numeric keyboard, it can send alpha characters only to Windows Media Center. (The manufacturer sells the Air Music bundled with a wireless keyboard for $230.)
Without a keyboard’s Control or Shift key, for example, it’s impossible to select multiple items in a window or list. And you can’t easily perform click-and-drag operations—including manipulating a scroll bar—unless you either lock the cursor into its active state, or manage to squeeze two buttons at the same time (a feat that’s nearly impossible to do with one hand, and merely "awkward as hell" to manage with two).
The backlit, 1.75-inch, 160x104-pixel LCD can display playlists, album and artist names, and track titles, but these music display features are compatible only with iTunes and Windows Media Player. The tiny, monochromatic display is decidedly unimpressive for anyone who’s used a Sonos or Squeezebox Duet controller (or the free iPhone apps for either of those devices).
The remote uses RF to control the PC. A Bluetooth connection would have been preferred, but at least it does use the 2.4GHz frequency band, and it delivered very good range. The Air Music can also be programmed to send IR commands to other devices. It’s limited, however, to controlling a set-top box, an aux device (e.g., your A/V receiver), and a TV. And there are other shortcomings for a universal remote this costly: You can’t program it via your PC, it uses four disposable AAA batteries (we expected a rechargeable power source), button backlighting must be turned on manually (the button is hard to find in the dark—the device needs a light sensor), and there’s no support for other RF protocols, such as ZigBee or Z-Wave.
We’d like the Air Music Remote a whole lot more if Gyration eliminated every feature except cursor and media-player control and whacked the price tag down to about $50.
Absolutely fabulous device for controlling a cursor from your couch.
Expensive. Monochromatic display is too small and is limited to iTunes and Windows Media Player.