Extreme Couch Potato’s pay attention … this ones for you. The Wireless Mouse Remote from X-10 does it all and then some. This unit adds PC’s to the impressive list of devices controllable with one remote and does it in a fascinating way. The remote comes in a familiar X-10 box c/w the remote, wireless receiver and software (it even comes with batteries). The receiver plugs into your serial port and your existing mouse plugs into the receiver (doesn’t use up a valuable port). Running the software installs a new mouse driver and gives you a slick interface to configure the remote (button by button) as well as a help file.

What can this remote control? Television, Cable, Video Cassette Recorder, Satellite, Digital Satellite System, Compact Disk Player, Laser Disk, Audio System, X-10 Home Control. Sorry, you still have to get up to get a snack from the fridge (unless you have a very understanding spouse).

PC Operation

The most innovative feature of this remote is it’s ability to control your PC. Once configured, buttons can be used to launch programs, edit documents, send email, logon and browse the web as well as navigating using the mouse pad. Two buttons on the back of the unit act as left and right mouse buttons. I found it a bit difficult to get my hand to co-operate in controlling the mouse and clicking the buttons but I’m not much good at video games either.

To configure the PC features, the software presents you with a picture of the remote. Double click on a button and up pops the Functions window. Here’s where you tell the remote what you want that particular button to do.

* Push Launch and type in a programs .exe file name to run your applications.
* The WWW button lets you type in the URL of a site to which the system will take you when it launches a web session.
* MultiMedia lets you use the remote to control your CDROM.or DVD.
* Edit will configure the remote button to do editing and navigation tasks such as PageUp, Home, Enter, Tab etc.
* System is where you can program things like “Maximize, Start, ShutDown etc.
* The message function is for advanced users who want to control specific application functions from the remote control device. This will allow a maximum of six windows messages to be posted to the currently active application to perform various controls.

Operating these buttons once configured allows full remote control of your PC. But, what if you want to open up Eudora and type in an email (while laying back in that barka lounger). Press the A-B button on the remote and a virtual keyboard opens up on the screen. Hunt and peck with the mouse and you can type in a message (it takes a while mind you … but what’s the rush eh!).

Controlling Other Stuff

This remote will control up to 5 other devices namely TV, Cable Box, Satellite System, VCR and an AUX button can be used for a second of the above devices. Setting up the remote is a simple process whereby you look up the 3 digit code for the device and program it into the unit. If you can’t find your device in the code library, there is a process to search for one that works. Once configured, the remote has all the standard buttons to control these devices. There’s even a sleep timer to turn off the TV at a preset time. Cool, now you can fall asleep in that easy chair and not worry about being rudely awaked by the National Anthem in the morning.

Of course, the Mouse Remote will control your X-10 Home Automation system as well. After all … who manufactures it anyway. An X-10 mode button gives control of one housecode. Just punch in the device code and use the Channel, Volume buttons to do ON/OFF, DIM/BRIGHT etc. These signals are sent via RF to a Transceiver (sold separately). An X-10 sleep timer can be set to turn off various lights at a preset time.

You’d have a hard time packing much more into a remote control unit. The instructions that come with it are easy to follow and there’s a wide range of device control codes in the library. The remote has a nice feel to it and the buttons are laid out in a logical fashion.

I must admit, when I first tried out this new toy I though it was very cool but wasn’t sure whether I would use it or not. The answer came when I got the article from Dave Rye about X-10’s other great new product … the Wireless Video Sender System … that I began to understand why it’ll become the hub of my home control and entertainment system.

Would I use it to control my PC? Probably not … I’m in too much of a hurry to get things done (the mouse moves the cursor quite slowly) and my monitor isn’t big enough to see from a distance. Others however will find many uses for this device not the least of which is browsing the internet from their favorite chair. The ability to launch onto the net and do page scrolling with a single button push makes that feature attractive. Hopefully many of you will be able to sit back and read the HTINews at your leisure while I keep punching away at this keyboard getting a sore neck. Another use would be in giving presentations. Instead of sitting at a keyboard with your back to the audience or dragging around a bunch of cables, you could control everything with the remote. Impressive.

I’m told the Remote Mouse is in stores now and priced in the $60 range. This would make a great Christmas gift for that PC junky on your list. Want to learn more? www.x10.com has all the details.