One could assert that technology emphasizes convenience and downsizing: phones, computers, laptops, and tablets have decreased in size while increasing in power. There is a tipping point, however. For a user, convenience and power merge into a sweet spot in equipment size, and that sweet spot is different for every person. For instance, I travel […]
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Review: BT Media Remote by Satechi

One could assert that technology emphasizes convenience and downsizing: phones, computers, laptops, and tablets have decreased in size while increasing in power. There is a tipping point, however. For a user, convenience and power merge into a sweet spot in equipment size, and that sweet spot is different for every person.

For instance, I travel around Missouri and present to educators. When the iPad first arrived, I thought it would be perfect size for travel and use as a presentation tool – especially when Keynote arrived as an app. My eagerness was tempered by the reality: there’s an adapter required to use an LCD, and since the iPad is a touch screen, you have to hold it or have access to it when presenting.

What’s the alternative? Using an iPhone and the Keynote Remote app. At first that required having both idevices on the same wifi network (which meant carrying Apple Airport or ensuring a venue with wifi). Finally, an update to the Keynote Remote app lets you connect to an iPad via bluetooth. However, presenting while carrying an iPhone around is unprofessional and distracting to audiences – it looks as if you’re waiting to take a call. Plus an accidental brush of the touchscreen could advance a presentation slide. So for years I’ve been looking for a bluetooth remote slide advancer, or “clicker,” that will work with both an iPad and MacBook (see gallery pics for comparisons to my regular Logitech wireless presenter).

When I stumbled across Satechi’s BT Media Remote, I was excited and hopeful that my dreams had been answered! According to the packaging, it’s a “Multimedia + Camera Shutter + Siri + Presenter.” Unfortunately, what I overlooked was that the “Presenter” only works with Macs and not iPads. And the Presenter function only works with Apple’s Keynote and not MS Powerpoint.

What about the Media Remote overall? How do the rest of the features of the Media Remote rate?

First Impressions

The packaging made a positive impression. The remote was nestled in a plastic case that gave it an “under glass” museum-like appearance. This read, “this is a special piece of equipment!” Initially I heard was, “my prayers have been answered!”

 

What surprised me when I removed the remote from the packaging was its diminutive size. In my hand, it feels too small. It feels almost lost. It’s also light… very light. So light that it feels inexpensively made. The plastic feels almost brittle and the buttons rattle when the remote jostled which contributes to the toy-like feel.

Speaking of the rattling buttons, four of them – 2 volumes [+] or [-] and skip back [|<<] or skip forward [>>|] – are in a rocking square shape, similar to designs of television remote controls. Unfortunately this design too easily activates the wrong function: you want to skip to the next song  [>>|] or advance a slide, and instead the volume increases [+]. In part, this could be because of the size of my thumb, or maybe it’s related to the finickiness of bluetooth. Regardless, it failed at impressing as a wireless Presenter.

Features

Bluetooth pairing was simple and successful with every device I tried (MacBook Pro, iPad, and iPhone 4S), though the number pad and discoverable buttons beneath the sliding cover are minute. I almost need to use a pencil eraser to enter the pairing code since my fingers are too big.

In fairness, the Satechi remote is labeled a media remote, so the strength of this gadget is in controlling audio and video on an iDevice or Mac. The controls work as expected – similar to a idevice’s touchscreen, the center buttons is Play/Pause, and skipping forward a song requires a single tap on the [>>|] button; pressing and holding the same button will fast forward several seconds in a song.

A nice feature deserving special mention is how the Volume Up [+] button also doubles as a remote shutter button. Fire up the Camera app on you iPad or iPhone and press the [+] button to take the picture. “Take photos without leaving yourself out and eliminate any camera instability.”

An additional row of buttons are for functions to hide/show Keyboard, a Home button (which can activate Siri on an iPhone 4S), and, a mute button. Given the spacing of these three buttons, they do not suffer from the previously mentioned accidental wrong function activating.

Overall

Taking everything into account, I probably set myself up for more than this little tool could deliver. I want a bluetooth wireless presenter that could double as a media remote. The Satechi is a BT Media Remote that succeeds in controlling media and happens to poorly advance Keynote slides. If you don’t mind the miniature size and flimsy feel, this remote could control the music at your next party, but don’t rely on it to advance slides during your next big business presentation.

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The BT Media Remote is available for $39.99 at Satechi.net

The BT Media Remote was provided for review on iSource. For more information regarding our site’s review policies, please see the “About” page.

 

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