Front Row Control

If you are lucky enough to have a Front Row-enabled Mac, you’ll already have a remote control for it. So it is a little puzzling to see that Keyspan has released a third-party remote for Front Row.

Keyspan’s remote control does have some advantages over the Apple remote, though: it has a few extra function buttons, and it uses radio frequency instead of infrared, so there is no need for line of sight to use it. But RF does come with some drawbacks too, as it requires an unsightly USB dongle to receive the signals.

The additional functions are an eject button, a mute button and a sleep button. That’s all very useful, but not really enough to warrant replacing the Apple remote. At £30 it’s actually more expensive than the Apple remote, which is only £20. That had me scratching my head trying to figure out a reason to buy the Keyspan model.

Eventually it dawned on me, the answer to the conundrum. When Front Row first appeared on Macs those of us without modern Macs found that some places on the internet had the software available to download on regular old Macs. I tried it, and it worked fine, but of course it was without a remote. Now with the Keyspan remote I can operate my old G4 running Front Row. The only issue is that with this slightly odd installation, you need to switch to Front Row manually. But all the other features run perfectly, and the remote is perfect for the job.

Aside from the Front Row functionality, the remote can also control other applications. So if you are making a presentation, you can use this remote. Also the line of sight requirement of the Apple remote might not suit people using a Mac mini as a home entertainment system who want to hide it away. This would allow you to hide your mini behind your TV for maximum high-tech styling.

OUR VERDICT

The Keyspan Front Row Control isn’t going to be for everybody. However for some it will breathe new life into pre-Front Row Macs, or add the ability to hide a Mac mini. But if you only want a couple of extra buttons on your remote, £30 is likely to be too much to warrant the purchase.

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