The Remote's display allows you to navigate your way through iTunes' library, playlists and standard listings like podcasts, internet radio and the app's Party Shuffle feature. That said, they appear on the remote even if you've disabled any or all of these in iTunes itself. You scroll through the display using the side-mounted scrollwheel, pushing the control in to make a selection. Push the Menu button on the front to go back a step.
With a track playing, the scrollwheel cycles through the song's ID3 tags, shown in the top two lines of the display. Pushing the scrollwheel in calls up a screen that allows you to rate each the song, with the rating almost immediately written back to the original track and iTunes' library file.
Likewise, selecting any of the equaliser or repeat-mode settings modifies iTunes' playback accordingly. Ditto adjusting the volume, though while the volume reduction key was fine, the volume up button on the sample unit took a lot of hard presses to get it to register.
In other respects, the system proved very responsive, loading new albums and songs into the dedicated playlist the software slots into iTunes, and skipping back and forward along the tracklist nice and quickly. If I have a complaint here, it's that the remote is slow to recover from sleep.
Tunes Explorer has a slightly cheap feel about it, but then it is an inexpensive product - just £40/€49.90. A bigger problem for me is the tiny screen. It's not bad, but it is very small, particularly if you're used to a big iPod display - even the Nano's screen dwarfs this one. It's not a read-out you can scan at a glance, and folk with weak eyesight will find themselves squinting at it.
But Tunes Explorer integrates well with iTunes and does exactly what it promises it can do. Logitech's Wireless Music System, which I reviewed earlier this year, operates with an iPod rather than iTunes, but essentially delivers the same result: a remote for your digital music. But Logitech's product is more than twice the price of the Tunes Explorer. Griffin Technology's AirClick is cheaper, but it has no screen.
Hercules' Tunes Explorer may be aesthetically challenged - it's no iPod, that's for sure - but it gives you not only full control of your music playback but also allows you to browse your entire music library away from your computer. If only the screen wasn't so pokey... ®
Hercules Tunes Explorer remote control for iTunes
Amount of songs in list limited
I noticed that the lists that have more than 10 000 song at it, will make the device to bug out and turn off. At least it will show my lists up to 8 000 - but not the 14 000 and above. I am DJ besides - and have a lot of music. If this is a behaviour for all devices - it really should be written about in the spec - and especially in the the reviews!
Re. What I'd like to know...
If a product's manufacturer says it will work with Linux, we'll mention the fact in a review. When something's a USB Mass Storage device - which Linux can handle, IIRC - we say so too.
However, we can't connect every other device to a Linux PC on the off-chance it may work. That said, we always welcome contributions from readers who've tried a product and found it works with Linux, and I'd invite them to post their findings as a Comment to a review of the product.
Comments are here for readers to ask questions and provide their own take on any given gadget.
What I'd like to know....
As with all reviews I would like one thing added, what happens when the device is plugged into a Linux box, presumably not a lot. Perhaps El Reg can amend it's reviewers guidlines to include at least a 'Tested Not usable with Linux' as a minimum ?
I also wonder can the usb dongles be bought seperatly from the remote so that you could use it on more than one box (we have a set up in the lounge and a second in the bedroom both of which have access to our music )