If you want to control your home theatre PC (HTPC) from your couch, you’re facing a difficult choice. A Microsoft remote may be adequate for controlling media playback and basic pointer control, but isn’t very convenient when you want to type in a search term or engage in a little chat. There are plenty of wireless keyboards around of course, but most are large, clunky affairs designed to sit on a desk. However, there are a few solutions that offer a compact keyboard and pointer in a single nifty device, and we’re checking out Lenovo’s solution.
“Lenovo Multimedia Remote with Keyboard” – yes, that is its full name - may not exactly roll off the tongue, and N5902 will be a fairly meaningless model number to most people, but this tiny device is actually one of the better ways to stay on the couch when interacting with your HTPC. It comes bundled with Lenovo’s Q180, is available online for around £33, or can be bought separately direct from Lenovo for £43 – which, considering its features, is still good value.
To give you the basics, we’re talking about an ergonomic RF remote that’s built like a brick, with its own micro-USB dongle. It offers a comfortable, fully backlit thumb keyboard, dedicated multimedia controls, touch-scrolling and an optical trackpad. It’s much like its predecessor, the N5901, with added backlighting, a fingerprint-obliterating finish, and a few other tweaks.
Where design is concerned, the mostly black N5902 is an odd little beast. It’s shaped a bit like an ice-scraper, with the crossways section housing the keyboard and the ‘handle’ accommodating the trackpad and touchstrip for scrolling. When used with one hand, this bulbous handle is the part resting in your palm. Thanks to a curved, soft-touch underside and the weight of its twin AA batteries, it’s incredibly comfortable to hold.
Its styling is enhanced by its tight curves and the chrome strip around the keyboard, though this is also the only part that picks up fingerprints. The semi-glossy touch section of the N5902 doesn’t show a single print or smear, no matter what angle you view it at.
Build quality is superb throughout. Like Lenovo’s ThinkPad range such as the X121e, this device is built like a tank, and it feels like you could easily drop it or sit on it without breaking the chassis.
As mentioned, the N5902 comes with a tiny microUSB dongle which uses 2.4GHz RF rather than the more complicated Bluetooth. It’s bright blue to make it easier to spot, and is stored in the battery compartment when not in use, so you’ll never need to worry about losing it when taking the remote to presentations or a friend’s. Lenovo’s dinky remote itself is powered by two AA batteries which you can easily replace with rechargeables. The battery cover is very solid but isn’t hinged or attached.