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Tuesday, 1 February 2005

Gyration Ultra Cordless Optical Suite Review [Lurks]

Back on blog 505 we discussed the search for wireless compact keyboard/mouse solutions. The sort of thing you might use with a media center pc in your lounge. For the longest time I drew a blank on this front. There are plenty of IR units around, which are entirely useless as you need to physically point them at the receiver. Others had completely unworking trackballs and so on and so forth.
At the tail of that blog we talked about the Gyration solution. I've got a Gyration Ultra Cordless Optical Suite now and after using it for a couple of weeks I thought I'd tap up a review. First of all, the makers belong to the stupid confusing and inconsistent across territories school of thought when it comes to naming. I've seen this called a few things and they call it the Ultra GT in the US where as it's not here. At any rate, you can get it from Dabs and other shops.
First the keyboard. It's perfect. It's everything we wanted. It's absolutely tiny. Check out the picture with my hand. It's a low travel easy click keyboard, only as big as it needs to be. It's easier to type on than a Logitech Dinovo and it's RF. This is proper RF too with a big whack of a range. Not surprising since Gyration specialise in professional presentation products. The keyboard takes a couple of AAs but I don't quite know how long they'll last. Probably less than a regular desktop cordless keyboard because of the higher RF power but that's rampant speculation.
There's a row of small media controls along the top of the keyboard. Those are fine but I would have preferred to just have the major ones there and larger, since you aren't going to switch the light on in your lounge to scan the buttons for the correct play/stop one etc. At the end though, the keyboard is by far and away the best effort on the market in this respect - it's a cracker.
Next the mouse. Here it gets a bit weird. The mouse is kind of shaped like a cupped hand so the mouse sensor is at the forward bit touching the surface and the there's a large gap behind it so the unit can be held like you might hold a star trek phaser. Here's the rub; the mouse functions as a regular optical mouse but if you pull the trigger then it activates gyro mode and small movements of the wrist will move your mouse pointer. Cool huh? It is but when you hold it like this you're left trying to click the mouse buttons with your thumb. Try double-click with your thumb, it's not happening.
That said it does work when you get used to it, although it works best with the sensitivity up and mouse acceleration (enhance pointer precision, Windows calls it) enabled. It's not the perfect solution though - the thing has an annoying tendancy to go flat if it's just left lying around so it needs to be put back on its cradle and I also find it has a bit of a habit of going to sleep to the point where it needs a good 'whack' to wake up. Odd that. Net result is I found it probably more of a faff than a regular wireless mouse. Bah!
The rest of the package is really nice; the charging cradle is a seperate unit from the wireless receiver. That's a good thing because you might want the charging cradle on the arm of your couch and the wireless receiver over near the PC. The receiver has a small telescopic aerial on it so it's a tad bigger than a combined receiver/charging cradle on a regular PC wireless desktop.
I've kind of gotten used to the running-flat issue of the mouse now and so in all, this is the best wireless compact keyboard and mouse solution I've had so far. Plus, it's definately handy when I'm stood at the back of the room being able to move the mouse around when there's no suitable surface for a regular optical mouse.
At a bit under £80 price wise it's pretty much exactly where you'd expect something of this quality. I give the keyboard 10/10 and the mouse 6/10, giving an average of 8 for the package.

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