GlideTV Navigator review
Will transform the way you use your Media Center PC, but only at a price
Media Center fans will never tire of telling you that using a PC as your home entertainment centre is a great thing to do and we have to say we do agree - up to a point. The main stumbling block is that, beyond the Windows Media Center interface, controlling things can get a little tricky. That's where the GlideTV comes in - a remote-cum-touchpad for your home entertainment computer.
It's an unusual, yet oddly attractive-looking device: diamond-shaped, with a curved underside and a dramatically concave top surface, it's about as far from your traditional remote control as it's possible to get. On that top surface is a clickable touchpad, with eight buttons running around its perimeter. And, in the corners of the diamond are further buttons for volume, mute, skip, pause/play and power plus a shortcut that launches the bundled software.
Wireless connection with your PC is achieved via a proprietary USB dongle, and power is supplied via an internal, non-removable rechargeable battery. A charging cradle is supplied, which connects to a spare, powered USB socket.
If this all sounds complicated on paper, in use it's the very model of simplicity. The curved underside of the remote sits neatly in your hand and your thumb rests naturally in the centre of that curved touchpad. Cursor control is achieved as you'd expect, and the touchpad felt both responsive and accurate during our tests.
Those buttons arranged around its edge allow it to mimic a traditional remote's up, down, left and right functions, while the corner buttons offer Escape, Enter, back and right-click shortcuts. With the bundled software installed, you can quickly run web searches using a soft keyboard, and launch commonly used applications via giant, TV-sized buttons. Before long you'll be wondering how you ever managed with anything else.
There are a couple of niggles. The touchpad has scroll areas along the bottom and right-hand edges, just like most laptops, but we found them to be a little inconsistent in operation. The buttons around the edges are a little narrow too, to the extent that we occasionally found ourselves jogging the cursor as our clicking thumb brushed the touchpad's surface.
But, in general, the issues are minor and easy to overlook. The Navigator is such a good idea and works so well for its intended purpose that we'd recommend it to any discerning Media Center aficionado. We just wish it wasn't so darned expensive.