When the MINIX Neo X8 was announced, it (understandably) got most of the attention from the press – us included. It won our mid-year award for Best Android PC of 2014. That wasn’t the only product MINIX released this year, however. Today we’re going to take a look at the MINIX Neo M1 Wireless GyroMouse.
When the Nintendo Wii came out back in 2006 the motion-sensing gyro-controller stole the show. Suddenly we could flick our wrist to do something instead of pushing a button. Control of the on-screen cursor became much more exact and allowed developers to break out of the boxy-menus that they had been confined to for as long as computers were around.
Fast-forward to today. Several companies have similar controllers, listed under different names: GyroMouse, AirMouse, 3D mouse. But all have one thing in common: They work in pretty much the same way that the now-familiar Wii-remote does.
What does this mean for the MINIX Neo M1? It means you already know how to work it. There really isn’t a learning curve with this remote. Except for a few buttons, you can pick it up and know exactly how it is supposed to work.
Let me say this first: This remote looks good.
The MINIX Neo M1 looks and feels like a high quality mouse, but at the price-level of the cheap ones. The case is plastic, but has a nice textured feel, similar to brushed aluminum. The buttons themselves are a soft rubber, but still have a good, solid feel to them when you press them. The remote is heavy enough to feel solid in your hand, but also light enough to forget that you’re holding it after a few seconds. But, if you’re looking for something a bit larger, there’s always the MINIX NEO A2 and NEO A2 Lite air mouses.
We’ve tested several remotes from different manufacturers. There are inexpensive remotes that feel very cheap, and expensive remotes that don’t seem to be worth the cost. There doesn’t seem to be any middle ground.
When I picked up the Neo M1, my thumb naturally slid into the center of the directional pad, resting on top of the “OK” button. From there, it’s easy to slide up to the button to switch between fly-mode and click-mode. A quick move down instead gets you to the home\back button. The remote’s designers put everything that you’d use most often within an easy reach of each other.
Using the Neo M1 in Fly-Mode just feels natural. I like that MINIX gives me the option of switching between Fly-mode and click-mode at the touch of a button. Some apps are easier to navigate using button clicks, and some (like Netflix) are impossible to use that way. If you want to use Netflix on your Android streaming box, you’re going to need a gyro-mouse like the Neo M1. The bonus is that this remote lets you change from click-mode to fly-mode on the fly (pardon the pun).
When companies design a new remote control, they generally have a few different options of how to connect them. Each has its advantages and drawbacks. The MINIX Neo M1 connects via IR (infrared), the same way that most TV remotes do. This means it uses less battery power than Bluetooth or Wi-Fi, but it relies on line-of-sight to the sensor. If you’re looking to pair the remote with a stick-PC hiding in the back of your TV, this won’t be your best option.
Speaking of battery life, the NEO M1 sports an internal rechargeable battery, which is good because truly the last thing I want is yet another device that takes batteries. I’ve heard feedback from other users that the battery lasts about two days without needing to recharge. There is a low battery indicator light which will flash to warn you you’ll need to recharge soon. You’ll also want to switch the remote off to get the maximum battery life possible. Keep in mind that using the gyroscope in Fly-Mode will use significantly more battery than using it in regular click-mode.
MINIX Neo M1: The Verdict
The Neo M1 remote is incredibly easy to use, looks good, and works on everything from your Android streaming box to your Windows PC or Mac. The design of the remote’s casing makes it look more expensive than it is, so it doesn’t look out of place next to your TV or stereo remote control. The lack of Bluetooth as an option is a bit of a letdown, but it’s understandable when you consider the trade-off in battery life.
All in all, this is the one remote I’ve tested that has found a permanent home next to my sofa. If you’ve got a media PC or Android streaming box, you owe it to yourself to pick up the MINIX Neo M1.