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Reviews

Logitech S510 Media Remote Cordless Desktop

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



INTRODUCTION

    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?

WHAT’S HOT

    The system is comprised of a super-slim
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.

PRODUCT FEATURES


The box is cut open to display the remote and keyboard.

    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.

The USB dongle is very small, and continues the
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.

Scanning for media on your hard drive via the remote
(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.

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HELP SUPPORT

    The system was build with
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.

BUGS AND WISHES

   
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.

PURCHASING

   
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

  • Incredible range (keyboard and remote)

  • 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

Value
Ease
of Use
Features

Overall

What
do these ratings mean?

OVERALL IMPRESSION

    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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