2 minute read

From a Keyspan Press Release for its Keyspan Express Remote:

Keyspan, America’s number 1 brand of USB connectivity products, announced that its new USB infrared remote control includes support for Apple’s groundbreaking Airport Express.

I don’t have an Airport Express, but nonetheless, this sounds compelling. Perhaps the most heavily wanted feature as part of the Airport Express and Airtunes was the inclusion of a remote (and apparently being able to walk around with your laptop doesn’t count). I still maintain that Apple didn’t do this because it would destroy the absolute simplicity of the current design and require expensive modifications to it.

When I read this, I thought I’d have to eat my words and admit I was wrong. Thankfully, I can maintain my pride and continue with my position. This remote is nothing new. In fact, Keyspan has long had a remote that performed nearly the same function with the same form factor in their Digital Media Remote. Like ATi’s Remote Wonder, it’s simply a remote control that interfaces through a base station connected to the computer through USB. There’s some driver software to control various applications like DVD Player, iTunes, VLC, etc. These things have been around for years. In fact, their “Airport Express compatibility” consists of the ability to control iTunes:

Now with Keyspan’s Express Remote users have a way to remotely control their iTunes

I’m sorry. I thought my Remote Wonder already did that. To make this an even more blatant (and insulting) marketing tactic, the Express Remote doesn’t even look different (save for some minor coloring differences). Witness pictures of the Express Remote and the Digital Media Remote respectively. This is the same product with a new name to suck off the attention that Apple’s Airport Express has gotten. If I were in charge of Apple’s legal department, this would be a prime target for some quick cash (if they haven’t already gotten a kickback). As for consumers like you and me, I’d steer clear of this product to send a clear message: We’re not idiots.

Update 1: Oh and it costs $10 more than the Digital Media Remote.

Update 2: According to MacCentral, the Express Remote allows one to plug straight into the Airport Express and directly control any copy of iTunes playing on the Airport Express. I’ll have to admit I was wrong. I am perplexed about how this is accomplished because as far as I knew, that USB port works for printer sharing only and AirTunes is passive on the Airport Express’s part with no notion of what computer is connected. Some kind of firmware update must be in the works.