Customer Reviews: IOGEAR 2.4 GHz Wireless On-Lap Keyboard with Optical Trackball and Scroll Wheel GKM581R (Black)
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on January 14, 2011
Bought this for my home theater PC, running Linux. The size, weight, keyboard layout, typing feel, and battery life are all great. It's well balanced in the hands, and I can easily type one-handed while standing up, say, for entering a username and password while browsing the web. The wireless sensitivity appears to work as advertised, having used it at distances well over 20' from my computer. There is a "left" mouse button on the front right of the keyboard, so you can use just your right hand for pointing and clicking, unless you need to use the "right" mouse button. Then you have to use your left hand to operate the mouse buttons on the left side of the keyboard. These left-side mouse buttons take a little getting used to, since my brain is wired to operate mouse buttons with only my right hand. But after a day or two of use these left-side buttons feel naturally placed. I've also come to rely heavily on the the scroll wheel on the front left of the keyboard. The Home/End/PgUp/PgDown keys are conveniently positioned in the right-most column of keys right next to the trackball, making for easy page navigation during web browsing, PDF reading, etc.

Unfortunately, IOGear has not improved the trackball design from previous models, which others have complained about in Amazon reviews. Out of the box, it felt gritty and rough. This has smoothed out somewhat over time, but is still far from perfect. It also wobbles in its socket, which makes for a wholly unsatisfying experience and reduces accuracy. I use a Logitech Marble Mouse with my office computer, which is so smooth and accurate that it makes the IOGear trackball seem like an afterthought. If only IOGear would improve this one critical part, the keyboard would be the perfect addition to our home entertainment system. That said, I enjoy using the keyboard, and have come to live with the trackball. I still think it's a better setup than balancing a separate keyboard and pointer device when sitting on a couch.

The keyboard comes with rechargeable AA batteries and USB cable for recharging, which is a nice touch.
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on December 30, 2010
I received the keyboard earlier than expected after I put in my Pre-Order purchase... was great to get early.

I've been using this lapboard/keyboard for my HTPC and have been very happy with the performance and features.

It hasn't had any connection issues, all keys work as expected, battery life has been great so far, the additional function keys are used often, the track-ball and mouse buttons really do work well in place of a mouse.

I've tried a few other products like wireless keyboard and mouse sets and mini keyboards and this IO Gear lapboard has by far been the best experience yet.

I particularly like the mouse functions including the scroll wheel which actually even has a button function built into it... and the feel of this keyboard in your hands is fantastic.

I'm glad someone has put all the right pieces into a keyboard designed for the emerging home-theater PC market.

One thing to watch for is if the keyboard starts to triple click on all mouse selections it is due to the rapid-fire mode being selected.

In my opinion this is a great product by IO Gear!
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on February 20, 2011
This would be a really sweet keyboard if only the trackball worked all the time. It's very rough, hard to accurately place the cursor and works only about 75% of the time before it freezes. Also on my unit the 'T' key was very soft. It worked but you had to look to make sure.

Too bad because ergonomically this thing is perfect. They should have spent another 10 bucks on a better trackball as I would have gladly paid it.

This will go back for a refund and I'll continue my search for the perfect keyboard.
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on October 22, 2011
ORIGINAL REVIEW: I have used this keyboard for 2 days now. It has a very nice form factor. Too bad it's useless. I can only operate the keyboard at a max distance of about 3 feet from the receiver. Beyond that it is so inconsistent as to be useless. I have tried new batteries to replace the rechargeable ones it came with. That didn't help. I bought it for the TV room. But I can't use it from the couch because the distance is too far (about 6 feet). For the cost, this is totally unacceptable.

UPDATE 12/07/2011: IOGEAR contacted me and I RMA'd the unit. Their instructions required that I ship UPS or FedEx and use *2 inches* of foam on each side of the original box of the unit. Odd since the unit was shipped to me loose in a box with no foam. I spent $14 on shipping - *my expense*. They have now returned to me a refurbished unit to replace the new one I had originally purchased. And guess what, the replacement unit doesn't work! I have tried it with 3 computers and on each one it works for the first 3 seconds and then quits (even with brand new batteries, etc I tried everything). At least the first unit I had worked most of the time at a distance of 3 feet from the receiver. This one wont even do that. So, I asked for a simple refund and am being refused. Just in case anyone may be tempted to think I may not know what I am doing: I own a different model IOGEAR board that I use at home without issue (GKM561R). It works fine on the computers that I am trying to use this one on. They want a 3rd chance to try to send a unit that works. I am 2 months into this fiasco and I have no choice so I am going to send this one back - again. At least this time they agreed to pay shipping. Well, you have been warned. It really is a shame because this product feels really nice in the hand and on the lap. I can tell that if it actually functioned, I would love it. The only problem is, its totally dysfunctional. Well, I will update this again when I get #3.

FINAL UPDATE: I received unit #3. I believe it arrived the first week of January. It works fine. Had this been unit #1, I would have given it a 4/5. Why 4? Because sometimes it loses connection to the receiver and I have to angle it up off my lap for it to work. That problem is a minor annoyance but may affect those who intend to use it as a lap keyboard with a home entertainment center. For me it is a minor issue. I am quite pleased with this unit. I am not pleased with the way IOGEAR handled this problem for me though. It is an expensive keyboard and should come with decent customer service. I should not have had to pay to ship it back to them and they should have been eager to correct the problem. I would have been tempted to adjust up my rating a star or two if they would have shown a reasonable level of concern for a customers inconvenience, especially after sending me 2 defective keyboards over a 3 month period. Anyway, that is that.
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on December 3, 2013
DO NOT BUY THIS KEYBOARD AND DO NOT DO BUSINESS WITH THIS HORRIFIC COMPANY!! My brother bought me this keyboard which stopped working completely after a few months. It was still under warranty, so after a few weeks I called the company. They told me I would have to MAIL the keyboard in, PAY for shipping and and they would pay for the return postage. I reluctantly did this and paid over $20 to send the keyboard back to be repaired. They returned it a few weeks later and it was working. After a few months it stopped working completely again! I called them today and they told me that I would not be eligible for a refund! I would have to pay for postage and mail it in again to be repaired. This is an immoral, corrupt company. They get away with this horrific customer service because they are solely an online company as opposed to Target or Best Buy. DO NOT ORDER ANYTHING from this company! They should be put out of business for their unethical practices.
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on February 12, 2012
I've been searching for an ideal HTPC keyboard/mouse/trackball combination in the past few weeks and found that it would be best that I have a keyboard/trackball as the best combination. I'll copy/paste this same review for the three Multimedia Keyboards from IOGEAR.


Released: September 14, 2004

This is the grandfather of the keyboards, surprisingly released over 7-years ago. When I first purchased it, it was based on the high reviews from Amazon and Newegg, and it established the benchmark for size and flexibility.

* Thin profile
* Trackball does work better over time
* Easy to type with
* Location of mouse buttons and scroll wheel is perfect

* A little larger than I'd like, but that's because the keys are spaced nicely
* Trackball ideally should be heavier, using a metal ball bearing (I'm going to measure the diameter of this plastic one and see if I can purchase a metal ball bearing)
* Volume up/down buttons are in the wrong order

Total Rating: 4.5 of 5.0


November 23, 2010

This was released 6-years after the grandfather, 2nd generation keyboard from IOGEAR.

* Easy to type with (similar keys to the 561R)
* Accuracy of the trackball (optical vs 561R laser) is the same

* Bulkier than the 561 (thickness and width)
* Trackball tends to skip for some reason, usually when scrolling down
* I don't like the location of the scroll wheel and 2nd mouse button compared to the 561R

Total Rating: 3.5 of 5.0


February 17, 2011

This one came out 3-months after the 2nd generation 581R. I believe this is still 2nd generation keyboard, simply different size/design for people who want less bulk

* Small size
* Light
* Metal trackball that is best to used compared to it's 561R and 581R brothers

* Location of scroll wheel and mouse buttons is not intuitive compared to the 561R
* The keys are very small and very difficult to type with. I found myself frustrated too many times when entering a simple URL address
* The location of the multimedia buttons (on the left and right sides) is poor. I found myself hitting these too often when I held the keyboard with my left/right lower thumb

Total Rating: 2.5 of 5.0


As you can see from the above ratings, the 7+ year old grandfather 561R keyboard is the best amongst it's younger brothers. I really wanted to like the 681R, due to it's size, but the location of the buttons/keys and difficulty in typing dropped it below it's larger 581R brother. Bottom line, IOGEAR makes decent multimedia keyboards, but they are having difficult time refining their classic 561R which I am going to keep and return the others. I would gladly pay $60 for a small version of the 561R that had good location of buttons/keys, along with quality of keys that allows easy typing.
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on November 22, 2011
Loved this keyboard at first. Use it in our living room to control the laptop connected to our TV and have no issues with signal. I've honestly only used it a total of 20 times and the scroll button/wheel on the left side (to move your web pages up and down) stopped working. Paying this amount I would have expected it to last longer than a few uses however I like that this is rechargeable so I never need to replace the batteries. I will keep using it as the scroll button does not make it unuseable just not as functionable. I would not buy it again however - too expensive to not be reliable.
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on December 7, 2011
I have purchased 3 IOGear keyboards in the past 12 months and have them set up on different PC/Laptops in different rooms. They are awesome. We have one in the living room connected to our TV-Laptop, we can stream video, check email, play music and games etc... I am also impressed with the service, arrive on time, perfect condition and customer service actually answer the phone and provide good advise. I DO recommend these keyboards. Bye one now...
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on August 2, 2011
Oh, this thing is awesome, best thing I ever bought from Amazon (course I'm new to Amazon, have bought 3 things)! I love that the mouse in integrated into keyboard with track ball and scroll wheel! Not to mention I can finally type while sitting on my couch and my laptop is hooked to my HD TV! I run my Facebook acct, which is awesome huge on my tv! Plus all the games I play! I highly recommend this wireless keyboard for anyone who has hooked their computer/laptop to their HDTV's, and at the price, you can't beat it!
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on March 15, 2013
UPDATE: 8/11/2013: After six months it is still working great. Definitely would recommend this keyboard for any HTPC. The attenuation issue I noted was easily overcome but putting the dongle at the end of a USB extender cable so the dongle sits up on the shelf instead of behind the HTPC case. No issues at all.

UPDATE 4/15/13: Still pleased I purchased this as it works great. The rechargeable batteries are lasting a few days at a time before needing a charge. The only thing I've begun to notice is an apparent sensibility to attenuation (reduction of the signal). My HTPC sits on a shelf of a metal and wood entertainment center and the dongle is inserted into a USB on the back. At over about 8 feet or when someone stands directly between the keyboard and the PC, I definitely experience degradation. For me, since I prefer to sit a little closer anyway, this has not been a significant problem; just something I noticed.

UPDATE 3/23/13: Still working great. Typing on this has proven to be a non-issue: still no dropped characters, only the keyboard is a little stiffer than other keyboards, requiring a little more pressure on the keys than usual. I have experienced a couple of occasions where minor interference occurred; i.e., I had to move the keyboard to a different position to get it to respond. In the main, however, it just works. Still is still my recommended HTPC keyboard.

I am typing this using my just received IOGear keyboard, while sitting about 10 feet from my computer. I highly recommend this keyboard for HTPC use. I hope to update this review as time goes by since some of the previous reviews indicate a short hardware life. Here's hoping I can testify differently.

After reading through all of the previous reviews, I had concerns about the quality of this keyboard and whether it would really work for me. But I finally decided to give it a try figuring I could return it to Amazon or eat the $35. I paid $80 for my previous keyboard - nMediaPC.

The majority of the other reviews spoke of hardware issues (e.g., broken keys), poor connections (missing letters while typing), and nearly all mentioned a loose/poor trackball. I used my nMediaPC for a about two years -- loved the ergonomics of it, but it consistently had missed characters while typing and poor trackball performance. The trackball finally died and I had to get something to replace it.

This keyboard is nearly as ergonomic as the nMediaPC -- could be as good or better as maybe I'm just not used to it yet. You can see that it is not missing a single key -- the only edits I have made were due to my own mistypes; it has not dropped a single character. The trackball is astoundingly better than the one on the nMediaPC -- it is smooth and travels well with no issues.

And this keyboard has rechargeable batteries I can charge from my HTPC -- a definite plus. The nMediaPC took four standard AA batteries.

The only down sides for me: the keys are a little stiffer than a general PC keyboard -- but I'll take that over dropping characters. And the placement of the Insert/Delete between the right-hand Alt/Ctrl is odd -- but in this day of typing on laptop keyboards that are inconsistent with key placement -- and the fact they have to place keys in a way that fits a form factor that fits on your lap, that isn't insurmountable; only a matter of getting used to it.
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