If you like the idea of Microsoft's remote-friendly Windows XP Media Center OS but don't like the thought of having to shell out for a whole new PC, SnapStream has an inexpensive way to add a remote control to your current system, with its $50 Firefly PC Remote. With it, you can access any folder or document on your PC, although you'll find it's best used for controlling media files such as photos, music, DVDs, and videos. And if your PC has a TV input, you can use the remote with SnapStream's Beyond TV app to watch, pause, and record live TV. Television aside, the Firefly PC Remote is a worthwhile investment if you use your PC only to listen to music or play photo slide shows.
Setup is a snap: just install the bundled software and connect the RF receiver to one of your PC's USB ports. A helpful, illustrated tutorial explains the various buttons and features on the Firefly PC Remote. The remote itself is solidly built and doesn't feel like a flimsy piece of plastic. It's powered by two AAA batteries, and it's jam-packed with many useful buttons. There are a number pad and channel up/down buttons for watching TV, but even beyond that, you'll find dedicated buttons for music, photos, DVD, and video, plus four programmable quick-launch buttons. The Beyond Media Basic software is a cinch to navigate, with large text that's easily read from across the room. And if you find yourself in a spot where some quick mousing is required but you don't want to get up, you can put the Firefly PC Remote into Mouse mode and use the arrow buttons to control the cursor on your PC's screen.
More than 80 third-party applications work with the Firefly PC Remote, including CyberLink PowerDVD, RealPlayer, Apple iTunes, and Jasc Paint Shop Photo Album; SnapStream expects that list to keep growing. If you have an expanding digital-media library, the Firefly PC Remote provides a cheap and easy way to enjoy your photos, music, and videos while seated comfortably in your favorite spot on the couch.