Media Centres

Input devices

Trackball Mouse

Wireless input devices are very much the go with media centre PCs. Typically, you're not sitting near the PC when you're using it, so standard keyboards and mice are often off the cards. Belkin, Logitech, Microsoft and a number of other manufacturers make wireless keyboard and mice combinations. Some are based on Bluetooth, others on proprietary radio and infrared signalling. Radio is better than infrared, simply because it doesn't require a direct "line of sight" to the PC.

Many media centres will also include wireless keyboards specifically designed for media centre use, including buttons which replicate many remote control functions, such as play, pause, rewind and volume.

One other thing you might look at in terms of mouse input is the wireless trackball. Trackballs are kind of like upside-down mice - you move the cursor by rolling a snooker-sized ball around with your fingers. Trackballs can take a little getting used to, but they obviate the need for a surface over which to run a mouse (not the easiest thing to find in a lounge room environment).

A remote is nearly always a good idea. The Windows Media Centre remote (used in conjunction with MCE, of course) is the best way to navigate around the operating system in a media centre environment.

If you're not planning to use MCE, nearly all TV-tuners come with remote controls that allow you to access the basic functions of the TV-tuner - record, play, pause and the like (as long as you're using the "official" TV tuner software).

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