Living room PCs are the most flexible, powerful way to watch stuff on your TV, but they generally need a bulky mouse and keyboard to be operated effectively. You could try to shrink a regular keyboard and mouse down, or power up a remote to do the same thing. Azulle’s Lynk remote opts for the latter.
Azulle also sells a series of mini PCs and stick PCs that run full versions of Windows, which the Lynk is designed to complement. These computers are better suited to enterprise customers than anything else—general consumers will be better going with something like a Chromecast or Fire TV for video, or a full desktop for gaming.
But if you do have a full PC or Mac that you want to only occasionally control, and you can’t stand the thought of a full-sized mouse and keyboard sullying your pristine coffee table, it gets the job done.
I wouldn’t say that using the Lynk for conventional control of a full PC is easy. But it does perform admirably in a tiny package, and for just $30 it’s well worth looking into if you’re already invested in a home theater PC.
You Got Your Remote in My Mouse
The Lynk uses an “air mouse” setup for mouse control, a rarely-seen niche of the mouse world. An air mouse lets you move the remote around with your hand, waving it in a vaguely conductor-ish fashion as the mouse cursor moves around the screen. If you’ve ever used a Nintendo Wii with its infrared remotes and their on-screen cursors, it feels a bit like that.
This setup means you don’t need a flat surface or even a touchpad to get basic mouse functionality. It’s less than intuitive, but the Lynk compares well with the other air mice I’ve (briefly) tried. For getting around a few basic points of a full Windows interface, it’s serviceable.
And for a more fullscreen setup, like apps for Netflix, Hulu, or Plex, the “remote” side of the device includes a full D-pad for basic controls. It works as well as any set top box remote, though there is a bit of a learning curve to find which apps can be used in “browsing” mode and which require finer mouse control. A handy “Mouse on/off” button will keep the cursor locked in place if you’re doing other things.
Other buttons on the “mouse” side of the remote include generic media controls for play/pause and volume, a “home” button for apps that support it, and shortcuts to core Windows functions. These include the Windows button itself, a mic button for Cortana, power and sleep buttons that work correctly in Windows, and (extremely handy) a shortcut button for the on-screen keyboard. This is nice for quickly hitting the Enter key without needing to flip over the remote and enter keyboard mode. I only wish there was a quick way to switch apps—a dedicated alt-tab button would be ideal.
You Got Your Keyboard in My Remote
Flip the Lynk around, and you get a 51-key keyboard that will look familiar to anyone who had a slider phone in the mid 2000s. That’s not an insult, by way. Plenty of users still miss dedicated, physical keys on their mobile devices.
There’s some impressive thought put into this gadget. You notice it first when you flip the remote over and the wiggly air mouse turns off. That’s an obvious feature, sure, but it’s not something that I would necessarily expect from a $30 remote.
Cramming all the features of a PC keyboard into a chunky remote isn’t an easy job, but the Lynk manages it. All of the commonly-used numbers, symbols, and functions are available via combinations of the shift, “Sym,” and “Fn” keys, though it’s not always easy to hit two keys at once and hold the thick Lynk at the same time. You’ll need to do a bit of learning to find less commonly-used keys (like all the weird ones in your passwords), but the layout gets extra points for putting arrow keys in the top layer.
The keys themselves are stiff, but you get accustomed to the travel fairly quickly and they don’t feel like they’re likely to wear out soon. Smart choices in the design, like the slight taper to the edges that make the chunky remote easier to hold, add up to a much better experience than you might expect from the form factor.
You Didn’t Get Your Remotes in My Keyboard
The Lynk includes full LED backlighting on the front and the rear, but in order to save battery power in the AAAs, they won’t activate until you press the dedicated button on the side. A light sensor would have been nice, but that’s another feature that’s probably beyond the scope of this $30 gadget.
The connection defaults to radio frequency (RF) via the full-sized USB receiver. There’s also infrared, with a universal remote function. This is for replacing all of your other remotes for your TV, sound bar, and various other gadgets…but don’t get excited. This is the definite low point of the design.
The problem is that every button on the Lynk is already reserved for pretty crucial functions for managing a PC. You can program any “learned” function from any other remote to any button on the Lynk, but with the possible exception of the microphone button, there’s nothing so inconsequential that you’ll be willing to do so. You can program in IR commands for the TV’s power and volume, but that’s about it—add anything else and you’ll be sacrificing some of the Lynk’s core functionality.
That’s a shame, because there’s a little room left over at the bottom of the “mouse” side of the remote for a conventional 10-key pad and dedicated buttons for things like channel or input changing. It’s not surprising that standard IR controls are sacrificed, since this product is aimed at home theater PCs or enterprise displays. But it seems like a waste to add something so complex as IR learning and not give us an easy way to take full advantage of it.
A Perfect Solution for Very Specific Users
The Lynk isn’t the perfect way to manage a living room PC or mini-computer. But since there really isn’t a perfect way to do so, at least without making a compromise for either size or aesthetics, it’s a really good solution if you want it all in a remote from factor.
The combined air mouse and mobile-style keyboard are ideal for a PC that the user only needs to occasionally change a few settings or enter a login now and then. If you find yourself typing in long passages every time you sit down, then something like the Logitech K400 or the Corsair K83 will suit you better.
But if you’d prefer something that actually looks at home in your living room next to your other remotes, the Azulle Lynk is well worth the thirty dollar asking price. Just don’t try to use it as a true universal media remote, and you won’t be disappointed.
Here’s What We Like
- Full mouse and keyboard functionality
- Compact layout
- Remote-like body
- Low price
And What We Don't
- Layout doesn't work well with IR learning
- No light detection
- No quick app switch function