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That's interesting: the remote was one of the two reasons I ditched my Boxee (the second being that the UI was painful). Initially, the keyboard was a major selling point for me over my AppleTV remote but grey text on black rubber buttons? No backlight? Trying to use the keyboard functionality of the remote in anything other than full lighting was an exercise in futility.

To be fair: UI (virtual and physical) is hard. Thus far, the AppleTV is my favorite but it's a "lesser of two evils" scenario.

I like this one:


It's purely meant as a mouse-and-keyboard thing, and in that vein it has some failures (the mouse-buttons are face-buttons instead of console-style triggers, and the keyboard lacks a way to use the F function keys)... but in general? I used its predecessor (the N9501 instead of N9502) and found the design lovely.

I could navigate my set-top PC easily with the trackball and mouse buttons, and when I needed to do text-entry I could hold it like a thumb keyboard. I even got pretty far in Cipher Prime's Auditorium with the trackball - it was quite pleasant for low-stress mouse-only games (as long as they only need click, not drag). The problem with my old version was that the trackball was not user-servicable (trackballs get dirty, fast) and it wasn't backlit.

The new one uses a touchpad and has backlighting.

I bought the predecessor as well and you're absolutely right: the design is lovely. While I'd say it's more of a full-featured HID than a remote it's well designed and comfortable to use. I didn't know about the new one and I'll keep an eye out for it.

A problem I see is that the tasks of set-top-boxes and displays are relatively constrained, so having a reduced input device seems like a good idea. But how to support free-text searching without a full keyboard (on-screen menus are painful) or having to deal with limited battery life due to a touchscreen?

I lucked into a N5901 -- note that it's N5901 and N5902 -- when I picked up a used Lenovo IdeaCentre Q150, which included one. It beats a wireless keyboard for controlling a set-top PC. I use a IOGEAR wireless compact keyboard on the other set-top PC, but will probably pick up another M5901/N5902 at some point.

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