24 July 2011
I have a habit of keeping older technology around. Just because it’s not new and shiny doesn’t mean it won’t continue to be useful.
Such is what I have found with my Think Outside Stowaway Sierra Bluetooth Keyboard. I bought it back in 2007 to pair with the Nokia N800 tablet. While the Nokia N800 never lived up to its full potential (and given what’s Nokia’s plans are for Meego, one wonder why they bothered to release the N950), the Think Outside Keyboard can still be used with any Bluetooth-enabled Smartphone or, in this case, my iPad 2.
I remembered why I liked this keyboard initially: it’s more or less a full sized keyboard complete with arrow keys. This makes it very easy to type on. It also folds up into a reasonable size, which makes it very portable.
For the sake of argument, I’ve taken some comparison pictures with the Zippy BT-500, which is a portable keyboard I reviewed previously. As you can see, the Zippy keyboard is a smaller keyboard, but the keys are too cramped to type on comfortably. This Think Outside keyboard is definitely better to type on.
The only thing I don’t like about it is that the keyboard is not suitable for using on anything but a flat surface. However, I can’t complain about the cost of this keyboard since I paid for it four years ago. With a fresh battery, it still works pretty good.
Think Outside got acquired by iGo at some point and they’ve stopped selling these or similar keyboards. It’s a shame, because a variant of this keyboard will still sell pretty well today.
30 April 2011
Over the years, I’ve reviewed a number of keyboards. Today’s entry is from AVS Gear: The Zippy BT-500. Their PR agency sent me a unit to review.
Here you can see it on my 17″MacBook Pro. The keyboard is relatively small and has kickstands on the bottom to raise the keyboard. It is reasonably sturdy and provides one feature I had not seen in a bluetooth keyboard before: the ability to pair with up to six different devices and easily and quickly switch between devices!
I set up three different laptops (running both Windows and Mac OS X) as well as my iPhone 3GS. With a press of a couple of buttons, I was able to easily switch between all of the devices. There is a few seconds of delay when you switch, but that is understandable given what is happening.
My only real complaint with this keyboard is the same complaint I have with all smaller keyboards: they are difficult to actually type on for any length of time. The layout is also somewhat challenging. I find myself hitting the up arrow when I want to press the right shift key. I also find I miss the spacebar key more often than usual. Maybe I simply need to work with it and get used to it.
If you travel with multiple devices and you need a portable keyboard, this device is what you want. It’s a good deal for $49.99, though I’m sure you can get it for a couple bucks cheaper if you shop around.
22 April 2010
This is the third Adesso Wireless Keyboard I’ve reviewed. So far, I’ve had mixed results with their keyboards, and I find the latest unit they sent me (the WKB-4200UB) a mixed bag as well.
Like the WKB-4000UB that I reviewed previously, it has a reasonable-sized dongle that snaps underneath the keyboard when not in use. It uses that crowded 2.4 Ghz spectrum for sending and receiving, but it doesn’t appear to cause any issues with my WiFi or Bluetooth.
The keyboard itself is also very similar to the WKB-4000UB in terms of size of the keys and the keyboard layout, which I find relatively easy to use and type on. The main differences are the size of the keyboard itself, the location of the trackpad, and these special media buttons.
I had difficult getting used to the touchpad mouse on this device. Perhaps because I am now completely won over to how Apple does their touchpad with multitouch, but I also found that, even after adjusting the tracking, I couldn’t make the mouse cursor move with enough precision and speed.
The dealbreaker for me was that unlike most keyboards where the “media keys” more or less work properly on a Mac, on this keyboard, they either don’t work entirely or map completely differently to how they are pictured on the keys. I could not figure out/remember the mapping between the key and what it actually did.
The retail on this keyboard is $119, but a quick Google search shows you can get it for around $84.
10 March 2010
I previously reviewed the original Das Keyboard, which I found to be quite phenomenal in every respect except the price. Last month, I got their newer Model S keyboard to try. It comes in three models: the Professional, Ultimate, and Professional “Silent” (which really means “less noisy”).
Like the original Das Keyboard, the keyboard feels–and sounds–like an original IBM AT keyboard. When you pressed the button, you could both hear–and feel–that the button was pressed. That’s because those keyboards–unlike most keyboards today–were made with mechanical switches. The Das Keyboard is made with similar switches. These mechanical switches add to the overall heft of the keyboard as well as the cost, which is $129–a bit more than your standard keyboard.
The Model S includes media keys (i.e. volume and stop/start/rewind/forward buttons), most of which work just fine on the Mac. Unfortunately, it does so at the expense of the left Windows key, making it somewhat more difficult to use on my Mac since that maps to the Command key on the Mac. Yes, there is a Windows key on the bottom right, but it’s not quite the same.
This particular keyboard also requires two USB plugs: one for the two-port USB hub and one specifically for the keyboard itself. This is likely necessary because it’s possible to use this USB keyboard as a PS/2 keyboard with the included adapter. Why might you want to do that? Because with PS/2 mode, there is N-key rollover support (USB mode only has 6-key rollover support).
If I worked in a conventional office, I would be using this keyboard daily. It’s very good, even without a Windows key on the left-hand side. Unfortunately, my office is located next to my daughter’s bedroom, making this keyboard all but impractical in the late evening or early morning. I could purchase the earplugs from Das Keyboard (yes, they sell earplugs!), but that’s not practical in my situation
4 December 2009
Several months ago, I reviewed a wireless keyboard from Adesso that, quite frankly, didn’t float my boat. This new one I received not too long ago for review, the WKB-4000UB, is a much nicer, more compact keyboard that I like far better.
The keyboard is comparable to a typical laptop keyboard. It’s about as thin as a laptop. Pictures below compare the WKB-4000UB with my old IBM Thinkpad T23.
One thing I like about this keyboard is the dongle: it’s relatively small and even clips onto the bottom of the keyboard when it is not in use. The keyboard communicates with the dongle over 2.4 Ghz, which is rather crowded spectrum given that it is also used by WiFi and Bluetooth. However, it seems to not cause any interference, which is a good thing.
The trackpad also contains a scroll area along the right where you can scroll up or down the current window similar to how the scroll wheel on a mouse. You can also tap the trackpad and it will act like a left mouse click.
Retail price is $109.99, but you can find it cheaper. A Google search turned up the WKB-4000UB at J&R for $74.88.
20 June 2009
Keyboards are a rather personal thing. You either like them or you don’t and there is plenty of wiggle room depending on what is important to you.
Adesso’s PR firm sent me a Wireless Media Center Keyboard with Optical Trackball to review. It is geared for people with media center PCs, though it works ok with my Mac as well.
The unit comes with a USB dongle that blinks blue whenever you push keys on your keyboard. It communicates with the keyboard over 2.4 Ghz, which is also used by Bluetooth and WiFi. I haven’t noticed any interference problems as of yet, but the keyboard and mouse are less than 1 foot apart in my normal usage. Supposedly it works up to 100 feet away, but unless you had Frank’s 2000 inch TV hooked up to your computer, I doubt you could actually see what you were typing on the computer from that far away.
The keyboard has some media keys to control audio, the TV channel, and the volume. Surprisingly, most of these keys actually work on iTunes on the Mac just fine. The channel buttons seem to function as a sort of page-up/page-down kind of thing. There are also a row of 8 buttons along the top that don’t appear to do anything on the Mac, but are supposedly for Windows Media Center .
The other important feature this keyboard has is a track bar, scroll wheel, and mouse. They work well enough, but I would have preferred the buttons to be to either side of the trackball (e.g. for left and right clicks) instead of being on the opposite side of the keyboard from the trackball!
I find that certain keys on this keyboard tend to require a bit more force to ensure they register properly, like the right shift key and the spacebar. This is not a unique problem to this keyboard as I find that many modern keyboards suffer from this “mushmellow” syndrome. I also find some keys are put in somewhat odd spots, which often happens when keyboards are made smaller.
What’s the verdict for $74.99 US? I like the wire-free operation, but it’s not necessary as I’m usually sitting at a desk anyway. I’m also not as big on controlling media from my keyboard. It would be great for that, of course, but its not something I do with my computer on a regular basis. It’s not a great fit for me, but if I needed a keyboard for a media center PC, I’d consider getting this one.
18 November 2008
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I think my kids might like this just for the colors. However, this keyboard from KeyRight isn’t colorful “just because.” The colors tell you what keys your different fingers should hit for the most optimal typing experience and supposedly are 192% more effective than without the colors.
The keyboard along with the included typing tutor program is supposed to increase your typing speeds in as little as 6 hours. PC or Mac compatible. For people who aren’t touch typists and want to be, $39.99 is a small price to pay.