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In Use

When you have everything set up, you'll likely want to control operations from the TV since your PC could be on the other side of the house. Figure 5 shows the remote that comes with the 1200.

Remote

Figure 5: PC-on-TV Remote

As you can see, along with the standard numeric and "VCR" type controls, this remote has a centrally located trackball that you use in place of a mouse. This trackball worked to move the mouse cursor around the screen, but as you might imagine, it was a bit of a struggle to do anything precise. To address this, the remote has a number of "shortcut" type buttons like "next page", "previous page" for a web browser, "and page down", "page up" for scrolling documents.

For entering alphanumeric data such as a URL in a browser, the keypad has a cell-phone type entry system. This too worked, but since I'm not a sixteen-year-old text-messaging wizard, it was a bit painful for me. If you're planning on doing a lot of web browsing with this device, I'd be prepared with all my bookmarks set up beforehand. The trackball also gives you a left button press when the ball is pushed down but I had issues with randomly getting presses as I moved the cursor around. So in short, the remote worked, but it could be frustrating to use.

Wired

After getting at least functional with the remote, I tried out a few applications and they worked fine. I did general web browsing, photo slide shows, played music, etc. Anything that displayed on my PC, displayed on my TV. To take it to the next level, I tried out some web video sites. The first was YouTube, where I had no display issues and as an added benefit of doing this review, I learned the story behind piglets wearing boots and saw some drunken frat boys fall out of a tree.

Next I got a bit more serious and watched a few news clips on CNN to keep up with important national news issues. There I learned about a pregnant male seahorse, nude protesters in nearby Boulder and the trouble one Florida neighborhood is having with a swingers club. These too displayed without issue.

Since the low-res, small-window web videos worked fine, I stepped it up one more notch and tried playing a full-screen DVD. This was not so successful. The DVD played, but it had frequent "stutters" and pauses, as the system struggled to keep up with the higher bandwidth required to support the full screen. In a pinch, you might want to use the 1200 for a short DVD clip, but I wouldn't want to try watching a full-length feature film this way. So in a wired mode, the system worked OK for applications other than full-screen video. Next I moved on to wireless.

Wireless

Figure 6 shows the PC-on-TV setup menu for wireless where the software has done a site-survey and located my two access points and one from a neighbor.

Access Point Selection

Figure 6: PC-on-TV Access Point Selection

As a informed reader of this site, I'll assume that you have your access point encrypted, so you'll next go into a configuration screen (Figure 7) where you'll select the type of encryption used and enter the password.

Setting Wireless Security

Figure 7: PC-on-TV Setting Wireless Security

The 1200 supports WEP, WPA and WPA2. The one menu on this screen that puzzled me a bit was the channel selection. I'm not sure why you'd want to select a channel since that's a function of the access-point, not the client. I left it blank and moved on. Unfortunately the first time I tied this setup, I bungled the password. And after a reboot on the PC-on-TV device, I ended up with the message shown in Figure 8.

Wireless Error

Figure 8: PC-on-TV Wireless Error

Since I had left the Ethernet cable plugged in, it was easy to recover. I fixed the password, let the box reboot again, removed the Ethernet and was operating wirelessly.

So how well does it work wirelessly? The first thing I noticed was that the remote was even more difficult to use. I would guess this is due to the additional (and variable) latency introduced by the wireless connection. Other than that though, the fairly static content such as browsing, slide shows, etc. worked as before.

My access point is on a different floor of the house, with several walls between it and the PC-on-TV. But even when I moved the 1200 right next to the AP, I still had picture breakup during DVD playback, which is not surprising since the wired connection also was not trouble-free.

When I moved even further away from my access point, the system continued to work well with static content. But, of course, depending on your physical layout you may get different results. In general though I'd say that if you're going to stick to fairly static content, the wireless worked well enough.

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