We’ve been focusing on the new Tronsmart Draco AW80 recently. As good a player as this is, it’s missing a key element: a good air-mouse. Thankfully, Tronsmart has a pretty good air-mouse. We’re going to see how it performs with our Tronsmart TSM-01 review.
The TSM-01 has been out for a few years, so the technology is not new. Like most air-mouses, this is similar to the Nintendo Wii remote. The basic premise is that instead of moving a trackball with your thumb, or trying to use a computer mouse on your couch cushion, you simply point the air-mouse where you want the cursor to go.
Many air-mice, like the Tronsmart TSM-01 also include a full QWERTY keyboard. We’ve all experienced the pain of pecking away at the on-screen keyboard to type in a search or long URL. Having a keyboard on the mouse itself just makes it so much easier.
Hardware: How’s it look?
The Tronsmart TSM-01 is deceptively small. Pictures don’t normally do it justice, since they show it sitting alone on a white background. Pretty pictures, sure, but not terribly useful if you’re trying to decide if this thing will fit into your hands.
So, I thought it would be good to compare the TSM-01 to the standard Draco remote (center) and a Samsung TV remote (right). The TSM-01 is easily the smallest of the three, but what you can’t tell from this picture is how thin it is.
Overall, the TSM-01 is just over 5 inches long, 1.75 inches wide and half an inch thick. That makes it even thinner than the MINIX NEO M1, which was the thinnest remote that we’ve ever tested here.
It comes in a small package, with one page of simple documentation. It’s enough to get you started, but it has some pretty useful tips too, which is surprising for tech products.
The finish is a piano black glossy finish with a very simple button layout. On the front side there is a simple D-pad with a center “Enter” button. Underneath that is a “Left Click”, “Home” and “Right Click” button.
In most applications, the Enter button doesn’t work as a selection button. The mapping of the device itself is more like a desktop mouse, rather than an Android smartphone. This took some getting used to, actually. In my first few hours of using the Tronsmart TSM-01, I found myself instinctively clicking on the Enter button. Eventually, my brain mapped the button layout correctly and it wasn’t a problem.
On the back side, as I mentioned, is a full QWERTY keyboard. Even though the keys are incredibly small, there’s enough space around them that my fingers weren’t running into each other when trying to type. It has a set of directional arrows, as well as mappings for Windows as well, if you want to use this for an Intel NUC or other small mini-PC.
One of the nice things about the keyboard is that the Shift key changes between the normal mapping (letters) and the alternate mapping (numbers and punctuation). To type capital letters you’ll need to hit the Caps-Lock key. This may sound like a small thing, but it saves you the trouble of selecting Alt, just to get to the numbers and symbols keys.
Calibrating the TSM-01
One of the first things you’ll want to do is calibrate the mouse. The instructions say that this isn’t necessary, but my mouse seemed to have a mind of its own without performing this calibration.
To calibrate the TSM-01, lay the mouse on a flat surface, preferably near your smart TV box with the wireless adapter plugged in. Hold down the “Left Click” and “Right Click” button simultaneously for three seconds. You’ll see the green activity LED flash a few times. Release the buttons. When the light goes out, calibration is complete.
This is also the same actions you take to pair the air-mouse to the receiver – which is why you’ll want to do this relatively close to your Android box.
You’ll also want to change is the speed of the mouse pointer itself. In the Android settings screen, under Language & Input, you’ll see a section for Pointer Speed. Here you can also change the sensitivity of the mouse. As with any air-mouse, we recommend setting this speed much slower than stock – usually about 25%. Anything higher and your mouse is likely to fly across the screen with a flick of your wrist.
You can also change the sensitivity of the mouse from the TSM-01 as well. Think of this as fine tuning the speed, while the Android settings screen is more for making big changes. To change the sensitivity, hold the left and right buttons on the D-pad simultaneously for three seconds. Keep doing this until you find a setting that works for you.
Performance and Battery Life
Because it runs on WiFi rather than infrared, the range of the Tronsmart TSM-01 is really good. I’ve tested it as far away as 20 feet from my Draco AW80 and it was still able to control the mouse pointer. The was a bit of lag at this distance, so I wouldn’t recommend sitting that far back if you want to use it to play games.
The Tronsmart TSM-01 comes with an internal rechargeable battery. It’s not removable, so keep that in mind if you’re the type of person that normally keeps a few spare batteries on hand. Not an option this time, sorry.
The battery is charged by connecting the remote to an available USB hub. The charging cable is included, so that’s one thing you don’t need to hunt for in your spare parts box. When the battery is charging, both front and back LED lights will flash. Once fully charged, the lights will go solid. Charging took me about an hour to go from empty to full charge.
Tronsmart TSM-01: The Verdict
Overall, the Tronsmart TSM-01 is a simple, no-frills air-mouse that performs pretty well. It’s not flashy, and it’s not big. If you’ve got big hands and want to use it to type on a consistent basis, this might not be the right device. But for most users, who want a simple mouse to navigate around the screen, this is a good option for the price.
It’s available from Amazon and Geekbuying for around $20.