The Pitch & Product
|Keyspan Express Remote|
|Summary||Compact IR control for remote iTunes control via AirPort Express. Can also be used for general Mac OS / Windows computer control|
• Easy to use
• Easy to extend
|Cons||• No display limits iTunes navigation
• You pay a premium for AirPort Express / iTunes features
I added an AirPort Express express to my home network a while back and found it to be an interesting little device. It's a bit hard to put a label on, but I like to think of it as the "swiss-army knife" of network appliances. In addition to being an interface between iTunes and a stereo, it can act as a wireless router/base station, print server, or wireless range-extender. And it does this all in a stylish little white box slightly larger than the power-adapter for my iBook.
On my LAN, I've been mostly using the AirPort Express for sending the output of iTunes into my stereo. It does a good job of this, but like many other people, I wished there were a way to remotely control it when playing music. Apple doesn't sell a remote for the box, but when there's a market for a device, there'll be someone out there to satisfy the need.
In this review, I'll take a look at the Express Remote from Keyspan. Much like the AirPort Express itself, this remote doesn't stop with a single function - it has multiple personalities too.
Figure 1: Remote and Receiver
The Express Remote comes in three pieces, a credit-card sized 17 button remote powered by two button batteries, an IR receiver that has a handy slot to hold the remote when it's not in use, and a standard USB cable. The product works with Macintosh Os X 10.3 or higher, or Windows XP or 2000.
Like the AirPort Express, the Remote takes a bit of thought to hook it up. First question is whether the USB cable plugs into your computer or into the AirPort Express? The answer is either. You plug the receiver into the USB port of the AirPort Express if you only want to use it as a remote for iTunes.
But you plug it into your computer if you want to use it as a general purpose computer remote control, or if the USB port on the AirPort Express is being used for a printer. You'll pay a bit of a premium for this flexibility, however. The Express Remote retails for around $60, while a similar remote from Keyspan that only plugs into your computer goes for around $50.