This post will put an end to using your TV remote to control the ‘Smart’ apps and web features making new TV’s so popular.
Lets face it, using a standard remote to do all those things, well, sucks. Some speciality remotes with voice recognition, or a wand shape, try to bridge the gap. And no matter what, entering text is a chore.
The Azio mini thumb keyboard has been my go-to when a small remote is needed and I can’t sit in front of a computer or TV It has a small trackball, two mouse buttons, a full multimedia button layout for PC, and QWERTY keyboard.
(Note: device is wireless RF, don’t be confused when shopping it is not a bluetooth device.)
So far I have tested it against a few 2012 Samsung and LG models and it worked great for Netflix, entering text, and the mouse was quick and responsive. We field tested the keyboard to about 25-28 feet through walls, interference and nearby wifi, with some lag issues at the far end.
The internal battery (2 AAA) is rechargeable via mini USB which is really convenient, and you can stretch battery life by simply turning the device off with the switch on the back, which I find excellent – more devices need this simple feature. The only real drawback is the lack of backlighting.
You can find it retailing online for $35-$50.
The Lenovo Multimedia thumb keyboard is also another winner for Smart TV controlling. With a more one-handed design and one-finger style optical mouse, the Lenovo shares a lot of features with the Azio. It has RF wireless for up to 10 meters; we field tested it at 2-3m and it was really fast. The keyboard build is a little more like a smartphone keyboard, they are a little harder and ‘clicky’. It doesn’t come with rechargeables, you will have to make do with two standard AA batteries.
The Lenovo keyboard seems like a PC keyboard first with its IE and Windows buttons, which is great if you want to use those features on your PC, but the basic functionality worked great when we tested it against a 2009 Samsung LED. We did not test the multimedia hotkeys, our opinion is they should be ignored for TV controls. This one comes in a back-lit and non back-lit model, starting at around $50.
Again, your results and mileage may vary depending on your TV’s age and model. Make sure the vendor offers a return policy before you purchase!