In fact, the four-line keyboard is more spacious than many cell phones, and the remote's curved back makes it easy to hold while typing. To the left of the QWERTY alphabetical keyboard is a second 5-way directional pad (for navigating menus while the remote is pulled open) and to the right is a full digit numeric keypad. Shift (caps), clear, and enter buttons are present, as is a symbol toggle.
TiVo's not the first home AV product with a QWERTY remote--Vizio blazed this trail with the remotes for its App-enabled Internet-connected TVs, such as the 2XVT series. While the Vizio remote has a cheap feel to it, the TiVo Slide is exactly the opposite: it feels solid and substantive. The slide out keyboard is spring-assisted, so it snaps open and shut with a satisfying click. And the keyboard keys are hard plastic, not mushy rubber--BlackBerry owners will feel right at home.
Even better than the keyboard and the overall ergonomics of the TiVo Slide is the fact that it's a Bluetooth remote. (A USB dongle is supplied that fits into your TiVo DVR, and there was--for us, anyway--no setup required; it was truly plug and play.) Since Bluetooth is a radio frequency technology, all of the remote's TiVo control functions work without the need for "line of sight," which you otherwise need for infrared remotes. In other words, as long as you're within 30 feet of your TiVo, you can control, regardless of where you're pointing the remote. So go ahead and hide your TiVo away in a cabinet--you'll still be able to control it.
Unfortunately, that TiVo Slide's Bluetooth functionality doesn't extend to the other devices that it can control--a TV and an audio receiver. The remote can be programmed (using a help screen on the TiVo) to control nearly any brand of TV or audio receiver, but it's via infrared, again requiring line-of-sight control. Unfortunately, there's only one power button and one input toggle. The system works fine if you only need to control the TV, but if you want to control the TV and an AV receiver, you have to split the difference. In other words, you're probably still going to need another remote on hand.
Likewise, don't expect the TiVo remote to control other Bluetooth devices, such as the PlayStation 3. Perhaps a hack will one day become available, but that's definitely not supported out of the box.
The TiVo Slide remote is powered by two AA batteries (included), and it's compatible with TiVo Series3 (including the HD and HD XL) and Series4 (Premiere and Premiere XL) models. The price is $90. That's not cheap, to be sure, and we really wish the TiVo had included the Slide with the current Premiere models--or at least the Premiere XL. That said, if you're already a devoted TiVo owner who's sticking with the DVR for the foreseeable future, the TiVo Slide remote is a must-have accessory.