164 of 171 people found the following review helpful
Almost Perfect HTPC Keyboard
, October 15, 2009
This review is from: IOGEAR Multimedia Keyboard with Laser Trackball and Scroll Wheel, 2.4GHz Wireless GKM561R (Black) (Personal Computers)
I have an old laptop permanently hooked up to my TV. Its my DVD player, Netflix/Hulu player and multi-format Media player. It's worked out great so far, except the part where I need to keep scooting up to the laptop to choose/play the next video, reluctantly giving up the comfort spot on my couch. I've tried hooking up my other wireless k/b and mouse to it, but that didn't work too well; miserable range, k/b too big to leave lying on the coffee table, no convenient surface to use the mouse, etc. but mainly the miserable range was what killed it.
I've been eying the dinovo mini for a while now, but could never get myself to spill a 3-digit figure for a k/b. But all the other HTPC keyboards had mixed reviews, so I had resigned myself to waiting till the dinovo got old and cheap. That's till I spotted the iogear last week. Pretty decent reviews on Newegg and Amazon, good looking design, encouraging feedback on the range and a trackball and scroll wheel to boot. I was sold.
I've been totally enjoying this keyboard the last one week. Excellent range, great size, the trackball works great, and the scroll wheel is a blessing. This is almost exactly what I was looking for, and at a great price-point. Well, definitely more expensive than I would spend on a typical wireless keyboard, but given the selection of alternatives out there, this is probably the best feature-price ratio for a htpc keyboard one can get. Both XP pro and home had no issues recognizing it without needing anything to be installed.
If I were to change some things on this keyboard, they would be:
1. Make it a little lighter; it currently weighs around 2 pounds or so. My full-size wireless keyboard is nearly twice its size but feels way lighter.
2. The track ball has some play to it, i.e. isn't snug in its socket. It doesn't really affect functionality though, just a little annoying at times.
3. The track ball is entirely light-weight smooth plastic. Rolls very smoothly and no problems so far, but I imagine that adding some rubberized coating (such as that on the scroll wheel) and weight would have been great for friction, good tactile feel and more precise pointer movement. The higher DPI settings are currently unusable because there isn't sufficient friction between fingers and trackball to be able to make precise tiny movements, and it rolls way too easily.
4. The design with a trackball in the upper right corner and the mouse buttons in the upper left corner is excellent when you're using both hands, but makes it very difficult for single-handed operation. The mouse buttons (at least the left click) could have been provided on both sides to ease this.
5. Has a lot of keyboard functions that would probably work only on the media center versions of windows. They're useless for me; I might have swapped the extra keys for clipboard operations, zoom, navigation, etc. that could be used in any version of windows.
6. Some keys are disproportionately sized - like the return key and the arrow keys - almost like the key layout was designed in a hurry. Don't care much for the fonts either. But overall the keyboard has a real neat, sleek look with an obsession for straight lines and angles. Very good-looking.
7. Not very pick-up-able. You cannot pick it up from a flat surface (table) with just one hand in a reasonably quick manner without the risk of knocking your shiny new keyboard right off the table. The bar running under the top edge of the keyboard would be a prime location for adding a gap where your fingers can slip underneath to grab it. Not cool to always need to reach for it with both hands.
These are all just minor nitpicks though - I really, really like this keyboard. If you have a HTPC, you should get it; you won't regret it. I might still get the dinovo mini when its price drops to this range (half the size and has a touchpad; touchpads are much more versatile pointer controllers for me), but until then, this iogear is the perfect fit for my needs.
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