It may not look like it but the Azio KB336RP RF 2.4G Wireless Multimedia Keyboard with Touchpad is a lifesaver.
I just moved house (again ... the last move was less than two years ago ... I must have done something wrong in a previous life) and, of course, not only did the keyboard and mouse I was using with one of my Windows computers vanish, so did the wireless dongles for both devices.
Luckily Azio had sent me a review unit of their KB336RP keyboard so I put the batteries in, inserted the USB 2.0 dongle in my PC, and voila! Here I am typing quite happily.
The keyboard connects via RF with a claimed maximum distance of 100 feet which I didn't test for two reasons ... 1) it's cold outside and I'm not dragging a PC outdoors in this weather, and, 2) I don't see a need for being so far away from your PC that you need a sniper scope to see the screen. What such a powerful link does is to ensure that you have a really good connection all the time, even in electrically noisy environments.
The KB336RP (as it's known to its friends) is compatible with all versions of Windows as well as OS X.
The key action is very good with a solid "positive" movement so I'm making significantly fewer mis-keys than I do on my iMac with Apple's standard keyboard (which will make my esteemed editor happy).
Along with a standard QWERTY layout and a large (as in even I can't miss it too often) Enter key, there are browser navigation keys, an audio mute key, and multimedia control keys configured for Microsoft's Media Center Edition (MCE).
I wish the keyboard had a caps lock light and that the apron on the front of the keyboard wasn't metal which, on a chilly morning, is a little uncomfortable, but other than that, the whole keyboard design is clean, good-looking and functional.
A disappointment is the trackpad to the right of the keyboard which is good but not great ... it's too small and slightly too sensitive, so a light accidental brush on the pad occasionally triggers an unintended mouse-down event.
Its small size also means that when you're using a high resolution screen, getting from one side to the other can take four or five swipes. On the other hand, if you're using the keyboard on your lap, having a built-in trackpad is a good choice and, if you're running MCE, you won't care because you don't need a mouse with MCE.
All in all, a fairly good wireless keyboard at around $54. The Azio KB336RP RF 2.4G Wireless Multimedia Keyboard with Touchpad gets a Gearhead rating of 4 out of 5. And even though it's a lifesaver, don't throw it in the water.
But wait! I just received a new mouse to test that I'm now using along with the Azio keyboard and makes up for the trackpad deficiencies: The Logitech m600 Touch Mouse.
My first impression was that it's very cool looking! The mouse is a slick tapered ovoid with a smooth surface finished in black and gray that feels good in your hand.
The m600, which is wireless and comes with an ultra low profile USB dongle, is touch sensitive and supports gestures rather like the Apple Magic Mouse. Thus, a swipe up or down on its top surface will produce a page scroll while a flick will trigger "inertial" scrolling (that's the name for a scroll action that scrolls according to how prolonged the "flick" gesture is). The m600 also supports right and left swipes which, in applications such as most Web browsers, will invoke page forward and backward navigation.
Left and right clicks are supported by pressing on the left or right of the mouse but that's it ... unlike the Apple Magic Mouse, the m600 doesn't support any other gestures.
Designed specifically for Windows 7, I discovered it also works flawlessly on Windows Vista.
I really like the Logitech m600 for its aesthetics and the fact that with Windows, you can plug in the USB dongle and it just works. If only more gadgets were like that ...
On the other hand, the Logitech is priced similarly to the Apple Magic Mouse but does less, which makes it, at around $60, a little spendy. The Logitech m600 Touch Mouse gets a Gearhead rating of 4.5 out of 5.
Gibbs is up and running again in Ventura, Calif. You can follow him on Twitter (@quistuipater) and on Facebook (quistuipater). Your track record to firstname.lastname@example.org
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