by Greg King on April 11, 2011 in Audio & Media
When building an HTPC, there are multiple angles to tackle – components, power consumption, software, and so forth. But what about peripherals designed to complement the HTPC you’re building? Quality options are not as common as we’d like, but the GlideTV Navigator looks to be an exception, and one that won’t drain your wallet.
Using the Navigator was a pleasant experience. I wasn’t sure how I would feel about it at first but after using it consistently for over a month, I have grown accustomed to its layout and can operate it almost by muscle memory alone.
The trackpad is very responsive – no different than your average notebook – and the buttons that line the edge of it are all easy to get to. I have slightly larger than normal hands so reaching the far buttons with my thumb wasn’t much of a task. For those with smaller hands, two-handed operation will be required and for a few functions, I needed to stabilize the Navigator either with my other hand or with my leg. This wasn’t a problem, but it should be noted that you might not be able to chill on your couch and use the device one handed.
Concerning the hardware that this was ran on, we used an AMD 5000+ AM2 CPU with 2 GB of RAM. Older hardware works well when repurposed for a media center, and with this build, I ran into no problems with the software.
Speaking of the software, there were areas of supreme polish and others that could use a little attention. The browser looked good but nothing that blew us away. It’s function in the same sense that the baked-in browser on the PS3 is functional. It worked well and the larger icons were nice when viewing from across the room.
To bring up the PlayStation 3 again, you can use the Navigator with it as well. I tested this out with mine and used it to navigate around the XMB without issue. As mentioned before, one of the nicer areas of the browser was in the page displays. When you are presented with multiple pages to choose from, the look is nice but only until you click one of the choices. Then you are back to the browser.
Range of the Navigator was tested out to about 20 feet. When I reached this distance, I still was able to control the pointer without issue. My distance testing was halted not by the reach of the RF adapter but rather me running out of room.
The batteries lasted a considerable amount of time. Using the device for almost days on end without needing to charge it was nice. This might not be a major issue considering its well-designed charging base but it should be noted that the battery-life of the Navigator is solid.
The only complaint that I have is somewhat remedied with experience. It took quite some time to master clicking with the touchpad and often, I would find myself moving the cursor off of the link when trying to press down to select.
The software keyboard was a pain but once used to the Navigator, it wasn’t any more difficult than other similar approaches. You are always going to have to sacrifice a physical keyboard when designing a small and compact device. While not my favorite, I don’t mind using a soft keyboard. It’s not ideal but it works well with the Navigator.
My time with the Navigator was good. I don’t have any major complaints other than availability. You are unable to purchase the Navigator anywhere online, including the GlideTV website. By looking at its Facebook page, the folks there are promising to let everyone know when stock comes back into their warehouse, but as of the time of this review’s posting, they are still out of stock.
When more units do come in, they are currently selling for $50. This is well below many competing products. While you do give up some functionality with the Navigator, you gain a small, well-designed piece of kit. The next time you are looking for a new way to interact with your HTPC, you are well advised to keep the GlideTV Navigator in mind – assuming the stock is replenished soon.
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