Review: Firefly Mini

09Mar06

I finally got my Firefly Mini last night after that delivery mess up the day before. Here’s my initial impressions.

Setup:

Snapstream claims:

Driver-free installation: just plug Firefly Mini into your PC and it automatically works as a HID device

This is pretty much true as all I did was plug the IR receiver into my PC’s USB port, and I was off and running.

They go on to market the Mini as a way to consolidate your remotes:

Simply use any learning remote control to “learn” Firefly Mini’s IR commands, and you’ll have one less remote control to worry about!

I was able to teach the Mini’s codes to my Harmony 659 remote with no issues. Now I have one remote that controls all my home theater components, including Beyond TV and Beyond Media.

NOTE: Be sure you have the Firefly Mini application running in your system tray. To launch it go to Start > Programs > Firefly Mini.

Look & Feel

Firefly Mini and Hauppauge remote comparison 2Some people have mentioned that the Mini looks like the Hauppauge remote, and I would tend to agree based on its size and general shape. However, the button layout is slightly different. It’s pretty light, but doesn’t feel as good in my hand as the original Firefly remote, which has a more Tivo-like peanut shape.

Firefly Mini in my handOverall, I don’t care about how it looks or how it feels in my hand since I will be using my Harmony remote. The Mini will find a home in a box or drawer somewhere.

Range

Snapstream also claims the Firefly Mini has the same 30 foot range as the original Firefly. While I didn’t test it for that exact range I was able to operate the Mini at the same distance as the original Firefly in my apartment. I slowly moved farther from my TV and down my hallway, and was still able to use the Mini.

IR requires that you aim the remote directly at the receiver, and some IR remotes that I’ve used in the past have been quite picky about this. The Firefly Mini is pretty good about this. You do need to be more precise with it than the RF-based Firefly, but after placing the receiver on top my TV I found that I could aim the Mini in its general direction and not necessary directly at it.

Almost Perfect

There is one truly annoying “feature” that I feel needs to be fixed. The “Guide” button on the Mini will stop whatever is playing (LiveTV or recording) before displaying the program guide. For those familiar with Beyond TV this button acts like the “F7” keyboard shortcut rather than the “E” keyboard shortcut, which displays the program guide over whatever is playing.

Those hoping the Firefly Mini can learn IR codes from other remotes (ex. learn your TV’s power on/off command) will be disappointed. Also, the Firefly Mini is not customizable, meaning you cannot re-map how each button functions. In Snapstream’s defense they have not indicated that it would have these capabilities, and has marketed it as an IR remote that can be incorporated into your existing universal learning remote.

Summary

Pros:

  • Easy to setup
  • Its IR commands can be taught to other universal learning remotes, eliminating the need to add the Firefly Mini to your growing list of remotes
  • Works with Beyond TV and Beyond Media right out of the box

Cons:

  • “Guide” button stops whatever is playing before displaying the program guide.

Missing / Assumed Features:

  • Cannot learn other remotes’ IR codes
  • Buttons are not customizable

Miscellaneous Pictures:

Firefly Mini in package Firefly Mini package contents Firefly Mini and Hauppauge remote comparison

Updates:

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7 Responses to “Review: Firefly Mini”

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