Drive your PC from the couch with the Lenovo 500 multimedia controller

This tiny wireless keyboard aims to solve a big problem with living room computers.

Dan Ackerman Editorial Director / Computers and Gaming
Dan Ackerman leads CNET's coverage of computers and gaming hardware. A New York native and former radio DJ, he's also a regular TV talking head and the author of "The Tetris Effect" (Hachette/PublicAffairs), a non-fiction gaming and business history book that has earned rave reviews from the New York Times, Fortune, LA Review of Books, and many other publications. "Upends the standard Silicon Valley, Steve Jobs/Mark Zuckerberg technology-creation myth... the story shines." -- The New York Times
Expertise I've been testing and reviewing computer and gaming hardware for over 20 years, covering every console launch since the Dreamcast and every MacBook...ever. Credentials
  • Author of the award-winning, NY Times-reviewed nonfiction book The Tetris Effect; Longtime consumer technology expert for CBS Mornings
Dan Ackerman
2 min read

You may not have a computer hooked up to your main living room home theater setup, but perhaps you should should. It's a great way to get high-end PC gaming on a big screen, makes it easy to stream tons of content not easily accessible through common TV-based apps, and it's the best way to set up virtual reality in a big living room space.

But the problem of how to actually drive that computer, be it a mini-desktop or a big gaming tower, is a tough one. I've tried everything from a standard wireless keyboard on my lap to a gyroscopic mouse I'd wave in the air, but nothing really works seamlessly.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Lenovo aims to solve this problem with the Lenovo 500, launched at CES today in Las Vegas. It's a multimedia controller that looks like a hybrid of a tiny PC keyboard and an oversized Blackberry. The big difference between this and other wireless keyboards is that there's still a standard (if small) QWERTY keyboard, but no separate touch pad or pointer. In this case, the entire keyboard surface doubles as a touch pad.

How does it work? Click the keys to type, or swipe your finger lightly over them to use the touch pad. It's small enough that while holding it in two hands, both thumbs should be able to hit every key and swipe over the entire surface. There are still distinct left and right mouse buttons, as well as a few multimedia shortcut buttons.

Sarah Tew/CNET

There's a small curve on the back of the Lenovo 500, making it easier to pick up from flat surfaces such as coffee tables, and the estimated range is around 65 feet (20m).

It's certainly a clever idea, and it addresses a problem that to date has had no definitive solution, but touchpadding by swiping over a keyboard could be tough to get used to. We'll have to get some serious hands-on time with it to see if it's accurate enough for navigation, especially if it's used on high-res 4K television screen.

Lenovo 500 multimedia controller

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The Lenovo 500 is expected in March, for $54, £44 or AU$75.