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Reviews

Logitech S510 Media Remote Cordless Desktop

By Brandon Miniman September 9, 2005, 12:05 am

Many have yet to upgrade to Windows Media Center Edition because of one reason or another, but those who have enjoy it immensly with its ability to place all forms of media into one place. Logitech, already known for their excellent mouse and keyboard packages, put together a new system that adds a wireless remote to be used to control many computer operations, and operate its MediaLife software, which somewhat emulates Media Center Edition (minus TV functionality). For $99, all this seems like an excellent value. Is it?

keyboard, a mouse, a remote, and MediaLife software, as mentioned. Logitech is trying to expand your notion of what a wireless desktop system should be, and indeed they have. Their focus with this product was on simplicity both in the design and the interface of the MediaLife software. According to literature accompanying the review system, Logitech created the keyboard with keys that are along the same vertical plane (e.g. they are the same height), rather than having the last row be higher than the first. This, coupled with the built in wrist-rest and slim profile, makes it comfortable to rest on your lap, but takes some time to get used to when on your desk. The entire system is also made to conserve battery life and have indicators that tell you when you are low on power. The mouse uses a "lightless" optical sensor to save energy, and can be switched off. According to Logitech, the batteries will last for 6 months. The presentation remote does an excellent job at progressing audio tracks, zooming photos, exiting windows, launching applications, and a lot more. The wireless range of the keyboard and remote is incredible, as I was able to change the volume on my computer from three floors up! A lot of thought went into this package; all the details are ahead.

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PRODUCT FEATURES

Included in the box: keyboard, mouse, remote, six batteries (included batteries = bonus point), "mini" USB dongle, dongle distance extender (for placing the receiver on top of a desk for better range), software, and installation guide. All components of the system have a common silver-metallic and gloss black theme that looks great.

The remote feels comfortable in hand although could use a bit more weight, and can be used by lefties or righties. From the remote, you can restore or exit a program window, draw up the custom program window, scroll in four directions, zoom, adjust volume, and adjust play functions. You can also assign the three top buttons to take on a variety of functions, including open a program or webpage. Using the orange "media" button, you can launch the MediaLife application.

The mouse has an interesting split design and continues the black silver theme. The scroll wheel can be tilted left or right, although I felt that it took a bit too much effort to rock the wheel to the side. The scrolling function worked well, but wasn't as smooth to operate as the mouse from Microsoft's Wireless Optical Desktop system. A button on the bottom allows you to switch off the mouse to save power when the device is not in use for a long period of time, next to that button is a bettery check that will illuminate the light red or green.

The back comes off the mouse for battery changing.

In hand, the mouse felt secure and comfortable with the right amount of weight; the mouse is suited for lefties or righties due to the symmetrical design. Mouse precision was decent, and not as good as my wired Microsoft Optical mouse.

color theme. You may plug this directly into a USB port and enjoy excellent range…

…or place the extension cradle in an open location for even greater range.

The keyboard has "wings" that has hotkeys with media play controls, and also a zoom key that when viewed with a webpage, will increase the font size — great for when you use the keyboard from across the room and want to be able to view your display. Also, there are more hotkeys assigned to the function keys … by default, they are set to perform functions such as open Word/Excel, undo, print, etc. You can program any and all of these keys.

The keyboard has a very thin profile, making it comfortable to rest on your lap. Here you can see how the keys are not staggered; at first, I didn't like the way my fingers "sat low" — but after getting used to the new configuration, it became comfortable.

Arranged along the function keys are shortcuts to programs. All functions can be set to take on a custom task via the software.

The left side of the keyboard has a standby, homepage, image rotation, zoom and restore keys.

The right side of the keyboard houses the media playback controls. After installing the software, the keys defaulted to my primary media program (WinAmp), which allowed all functions to work.

You can set all five functions of the mouse to do different things. I set the left scroll to be a back button while in a browser, but found it to not work in Firefox, even though Firefox is supported, according to Logitech. From this tab, you may also set mouse acceleration and movement characteristics, and check battery level.

The keyboard configuration pane lets you assign a function to any of its hotkeys. You can also view battery status.

The same applies to the remote tab, in that you can program any or several buttons to suit your fancy.

The software has a keystroke encryption wizard so that other computers can't "see" your keyboard.

MEDIALIFE SOFTWARE

This is the homepage of the MediaLife application. I've set the aspect ratio of the program to 16:9 to work better with my widescreen monitor via the main settings. The Logitech-green background isn't particularly attractive, it'd be great if there were skinning options preloaded.

Here, I'm moving through picture folders while listening to a song (album cover displayed in corner). If you begin slide show from this view, the music will continue to play. You may also view a video in the corner while you scan through your images, and again, the audio from the video will play into your slideshow if you keep the video playing.

Another view from the picture screen. You cannot change the thumbnail size, nor how many display on the screen.

Settings for pictures allows you to set a couple slide show attributes.

Through edit mode, you can remove read eye, rotate, and "auto fix" (which equalizes levels). Here is an image with a bit too much red eye (my head is poking up from the bottom there)…

…and here is the corrected image. Suprisingly, the software removed most of the red eye accurately (not including my own for some reason).

Viewing your video library will display a preview of the video, similar to thumbnail view in Windows. During video playback, no progression timeline is displayed which is really needed, and you can only fast forward at 2x.

(or mouse) is easy. The software tended to slow at times when I selected a folder with lots of content.

When scanning through albums via the music menu, album art displays when available. During music playback, you can display one of several visualizations in full screen.

simplicity in mind. Setup for the components of the system was quick and easy, and operation of MediaLife was relatively painless, as there were few advanced features to confuse oneself.

After a few exchanges with the company regarding the delay I was experiencing with the keyboard, and learning that the keyboard can track 23 strokes per second, I've come to the conclusion that I exceed this speed, and I don't consider myself a super fast typer. I was given suggestions to be sure I was letting go of each key before hitting another, and that I was fully depressing each key — and indeed I was. The delay is slight and only noticeable when you're fingers are really moving along…but it was enough to annoy me.

In addition, the mouse was a bit lacking in precision, most noticeable while gaming. For day to day use, it's not a big issue.

MediaLife is an excellent concept that is executed relatively well. Hopefully Logitech will expand this product to offer more advanced options, including skinning, because the current green environment is ugly for my tastes. While in the MediaLife software — even with 3.0GHz P4 and 1GB of RAM, the software was a bit on the laggy side.

The S510 Media Remote system is a great value at $99 and can be purchased direct from Logitech. If you don't need the remote and MediaLife software, and like the look and features of just the keyboard and mouse, they are available for $79 from Logitech.

Pros

  • Attractive design
  • MediaLife software emulates Windows Media Center Edition
  • Buttons are very customizable
  • A great value

Cons

  • Keyboard has a slight delay (noticeable only when typing very fast)
  • Mouse could be more precise
  • MediaLife software can be a bit slow at times and lacks advanced options

Logitech takes a holistic approach when creating a new product: they consider what the consumer will want, how they'll use it, and how much they'll be willing to pay for it. I think they have made a great hit here. For the advanced user who wants perfect mouse and keyboard precision, this is not the ideal system. If you're looking for eye candy on your desktop, along with a remote and software that will make presentations and media viewing a less tethered experience, then this will be a useful purchase.

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