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PRODUCT REVIEW

Adesso’s New Slimtouch Keyboard: Terrific Touchpad, Loopy Layout

Adesso’s newest keyboard, the Wireless Slimtouch Ergo, is a love-it-or-hate-it type of product. If you can getalong without the features it misses and get through the learning curve,you might just keep it.

It has a few interesting features to offer those looking for a changeof pace. However, making the move probably will not be an easy transition.

I routinely work on four or five computers, and different keyboards often have slightly different layouts. Sure, they’re all QWERTY designs, but sometimes things are just a little different when it comes to the delete key, for instance, or when it comes to the media control buttons. So the prospect of takinga cordless keyboard to my different work locations was intriguing. Itshould be a convenient way to stay productive if my brain only had toremember one keyboard’s finger-touch scheme.

Unusual Feature

The first thing to catch my fancy with this model is its small butfunctional touchpad.I’ve always liked using a touchpad — that touch-sensitive square most laptops use instead of a mouse. However, very few vendors today offerdesktop keyboards with a touchpad.

Adesso goes one step further. This model not only has a touchpad, butits location to the far right of the keyboard resembles the normalstep of leaving the key rows to reach for a mouse (though lefties may prefer a different setup).

Still, I wonder why the designers put the two mouse buttons for thetouchpad on the far left side of the keyboard, rather than directly beneath the touchpad, where they’re usually kept on laptops.

Funky Key Action

I found that adjusting to Adesso’s wireless keyboard entailed a farsteeper learning curve than using multiple keyboards as I move fromcomputer to computer. One reason is its curved key rows.

Adesso Wireless Slimtouch Ergo Keyboard

[Click Image to Enlarge]

The overall perky travel of each key press wasfine. However, the upward angle of the rows constantly caused my fingers tohit the wrong keys. This makes more work and forces me to sight typeinstead of touch type.

Another difficulty with the keyboard’s design is the caps lock key. Iconstantly hit it with my left pinky finger and didn’t notice the rowsof uppercase letters. The key is where it belongs, so I don’t know whythe misfingering occurs, other than possibly the angled rows.

Missing Stuff

Another problem with this keyboard: No numeric keypad. One reason might be theplacement of the touchpad and indicator lights on the right edge ofthe keyboard. Adesso’s engineers sacrificed the space below that bylocating six hot function buttons there.

I would expect the lack of a number pad on a small laptopconfiguration. But this model resorts to the use of dual-purposeletter/number keys, like some laptops use — a big disappointment.

Adesso loads up extra function keys with a Function Lock key that allows thetraditional function key row to provide multimedia and Internettasks. These include My Music, My Videos, My Pictures, My TV, MyRadio and DVD.

This is all well and good, but the absence of some standard functionkeys that tap into Windows tasks such as sleep mode would be animprovement.

Good Vibes

A few good features keep Adesso’s wireless, multimedia keyboard in therunning for consumer consideration. One is the array of audio andvideo control buttons on the left edge of the keyboard.

I was also impressed with the device’s long battery use. This 86-keykeyboard is powered by two AA batteries. I ran the keyboard for morethan one week day and night without having to replace the batteries.Of course, remembering to slide the on/off switch into the offposition on the underside of the keyboard assured maximum batterylife.

I was also glad to discover that this keyboard model works quite wellon Linux systems. Adesso doesn’t say this in the list ofspecifications, but the fact that this keyboard is Linux-compatible isa definite plus. It worked flawlessly on my Ubuntu Linux netbook, myUbuntu Linux desktop, and on a laptop dual booting into Puppy Linux.

Overall, the more I use the lightweight Wireless Slimtouch ErgoKeyboard, the more I like it. The 2.4 GHz Wireless RF Technologycovers up to 100 feet from the USB receiver.

The device has no setup needs — it is plug-and-play for both Windowsand Linux. No software installation is needed.

The price is right as well. This model sells for US$79.95.

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