SnapStream does provide the tools needed to modify profiles, but it’s not as if they advertise them. Two hidden programs located in the main FireFly installation directory – ProfileEditor.exe and AppIdentifier.exe – are used to create new profiles or edit existing ones, as well as determining how a program identifies itself to the system so that the drivers can later recognize it. Users must manually search through the SnapStream website’s knowledgebase to learn about the existence of and discover how to use these two utilities.
With these tools I was able to quickly modify the out-of-date PowerDVD profile to work with the latest version of the software... which begs the question, if this is such a simple task then why does SnapStream not do this in advance for their customers? Creating a new profile from scratch isn’t entirely as simple, since you must determine the appropriate keyboard shortcuts associated with each program function – and more often than not these are not clearly documented anywhere.
Overall use and experience.
With those applications that the Firefly’s driver detected correctly the remote control worked quite well. The remote is not only extremely comfortable to hold, but also has a nice feel to the keys with snappy tactile response and excellent key travel. Commands were received and processed almost instantly by the Firefly’s drivers, and I found no issues with general reliability or the drivers sensing the incorrect command.
The Firefly’s special mouse mode, toggled via the [Mouse] button, works in a pinch when something absolutely positively has to be clicked, although it is definitely not something that should be relied upon for daily use. The mouse directions are limited purely to up, down, left and right (there’s no diagonal movement), and it’s a rather tedious process to slowly move the cursor across a high-resolution screen and pick out specific items. A bonus feature when the remote is in mouse mode uses the [Info] and [Option] buttons to conveniently move backwards and forwards (alt-tab) through all open applications. The adjacent [Help] button brings up a full-screen list of remote hard buttons and the commands they perform under the current profile. Despite the telephone-style alphabet printed below the number keys, there is no thumbboard capability or virtual on-screen keyboard provided.
Since the Firefly is RF-based, our normal obstructive method for testing infrared strength won’t be of any use here... and without another more formal method for determining RF strength, I had to make use of the timeless “walkabout” technique where I attempt to use the computer from various remote locations. During these tests I found the Firefly’s RF response was quite respectable, far outperforming the last RF-based PC remote we tested at between two and three times the operational range. Of course local conditions can impact this performance widely. If you have thick walls, lots of wiring, old plaster on metal lath or just a busy RF environment, reception range could suffer accordingly. In testing I was able to control my PC from at least 50 feet away, however this does not guarantee that the Firefly will work as well in your specific conditions.
Beyond Media Basic is an adequate front-end program for providing a bare-bones HTPC experience, and the Firefly worked well with it. Two of its main components – Beyond Media Music and Beyond Videos Basic – provide a file selection interface for Windows Media Player, while Beyond Photos Basic creates automatic photo slideshows. Being a “basic” edition there are no DVD player software or TV tuner components, although it will integrate these home menu options with other applications. The online content feature, SnapStream Spotlight, didn’t work particularly well and caused random “stack overflow” errors.
Control of the other officially supported front-end, Windows Media Center Edition, worked nearly as well except for the bottom activity keys which refused to launch the associated MCE task.