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Saturday, 3 May 2008

The ultimate HTPC keyboard? [Muz]


So, I'm thinking about setting up an HTPC to feed into the telly; no doubt the vast majority of the clan have sorted this shit already, but I've always been a little slow. Anyway.

The main thing about an HTPC, I think, is having a small, unobtrusive keyboard, and some sort of integrated touchpad/nipple/trackball. No one wants to piss about with laser mice on the sofa arm or something lame like that.

After some Googling, I came across this lot, who appear to do all sorts of crazy keyboard variants. The one that interested me in particular was the Periboard 701; top one on this page.

As you may have guessed from the name, it's wireless - but that's not all, dear readers. It's basically a laptop keyboard, complete with numpad on the main qwerty keyboard that you enable with an 'Fn' button, and a touchpad below the keyboard itself. Another nice touch is that the right hand side of the touchpad emulates a scroll wheel - you slide downwards to scroll down, upwards to scroll up. It's very responsive and easy to get used to.

As with any SFF/laptop style keyboard, there are a couple of keys that are out of place, concessions made in the name of compactness. The '\' key is now next to a shortened spacebar, and home/end/pgup/pgdn are in a vertical line at the right hand side - I hit 'home' by mistake a couple of times while trying to backspace. The touchpad is also fairly close to the space bar - I've found myself left clicking with my thumbs by accident a couple of times, but I appear to have retrained myself around these niggles fairly quickly over the course of typing this blog. (Pictures of the layout to come when I can find my camera).

Hardware wise: it comes with an RF dongle the size of a thumbdrive (no Bluetooth craziness here) and just emulates a standard keyboard/mouse, so no need to install any drivers. The keyboard itself is powered by 4 AAA batteries (supplied). The range on the thing is pretty mental too - typed several lines into IRC from 10 meters away through a couple of walls with no problem whatsoever. Overall, a superb bit of kit.

What's that? Where can you get hold of one of these marvels? It just so happens that Micro Direct sell them for a little over £40 of your English pounds, and what's more, they accept Google Checkout. What are you waiting for?

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