Tag Archives: keyboard

Shift from Qwertyfree Helps Visually Impaired at CES



For the visually impaired, typing on a smartphone or tablet keyboard can be tricky as the small keys can be hard to pick out. The team at Qwertyfree are developing a replacement keyboard with just five keys to help those with poor vision. Todd finds out more from Craig.

The idea behind the new keyboard is that in English eight letters are used over 60% of the time so why not focus on those and make those letters the easiest to use. Called Shift (as in shifting gears on a manual transmission), the app has a four areas; up, right, down, left, with a selection of letters in each – it’s a little like the directional pad on a remote. The user swipes once to get a primary letter and then swipes again to get a secondary one, with the keyboard reading out the selected letter. So just swipe left for E, or right for N.

The new Shift keyboard should be available by the end of the quarter, though it may be Android only. No news on price.

Todd Cochrane is the host of the twice-weekly Geek News Central Podcast at GeekNewsCentral.com.

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iClever Tri-Folding Bluetooth Keyboard Review



iClever LogoI’ve always had a soft spot for folding keyboards, starting with the Palm Portable Keyboard from over fifteen years ago. On review here is the iClever Tri-folding Bluetooth Keyboard (IC-BK05), which brings the folding keyboard up-to-date with wireless connectivity and funky LED backlights. Let’s take a look.

iClever Folding Keyboard Folded

The keyboard comes in a small cardboard box with the iClever keyboard itself, a USB to microUSB cable, a cloth carrying bag and instructions. The keyboard’s dimensions unfolded are 29.1 x 11.7 x 0.8 cm and 16.6 x 12.0 x 1.5 cm when folded. The back or outer shell of the keyboard is metal, so it’s well protected when all closed up, and there are some magnetic catches to keep the keyboard close up. Unfolded, the keyboard feels a little flimsy in the hand, but once it’s on a firm surface with the two outer rests flipped down, the keyboard is solid enough. The iClever Folding Keyboard’s hinge mechanism is on display and looks neat, while also being part of the support for the keyboard.

iClever Folding Keyboard Unfolded

The IC-BK05 has a couple of notable features. First, it works with Android, iOS and Windows. Second, it connects both with Bluetooth and USB. Finally, it has coloured LED key backlights which can be cycled through red, green and blue. The keys are chiclet style with five rows of full size keys and a small sixth set of function keys across the top.

iClever Folding Keyboard HingeThe function keys provide a range of additional functions such as Home, Search, Cut, Copy, Paste, Play/Pause and so on. There’s some variation depending on what OS is in use but I found it handy to have a Home key with Android tablets.

The keyboard can be connected to two devices at the same time, though one has to wired via USB and the other wirelessly via Bluetooth. I’m typing this via a wired connection to a Windows 10 laptop but can switch back to my Nexus 9 with a quick function key.

The IC-BK05 turns on automatically when the keyboard is unfolded. Battery-life is a claimed 300 hours without backlight, but reduces to only 5 hours when the lights are on. The lights have two levels of brightness but I never typed long enough to find out if the estimate is correct. As expected, the keyboard is charged via the USB port.

iClever Folding KeyboardI used the iClever Folding Keyboard wirelessly with my Nexus 9 over a couple days to write a few articles for Geek News Central and found it very productive. I can touch-type and didn’t have any difficulty getting used to the spacing for the vast majority of the keys and everything was where it should have been on the keyboard. It’s worth noting that this is US (not UK keyboard) layout, so there’s no £ sign and @ is where ” normally is. Obviously the lettering on the keys can be overridden in the layout settings but it’s worth pointing out.

I only had one minor problem with the keyboard and that was with a couple of plastic covers on the hinges which had a tendency to pop off when pulling the keyboard out of the drawstring bag. The covers were easily popped back in and I suspect a drop of glue would keep them in place.

Overall, I liked iClever Tri-folding Bluetooth Keyboard and its definitely worth getting this or a similar keyboard if you are going to be doing lots of typing on a tablet. Priced at around GB£35 or US$55, it’s also worth considering non-backlight version (IC-BK03) which will save £10 / $20. The keyboard is available from Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk. Unboxing video below.

Thanks to iClever for the review unit.

 


K-Board Portable Keyboard at CES



Keith McMillen Music LogoAlthough my musical talent at the piano only extends to a fumble-fingered Frère Jacques, on-the-go creative types will be interested in the K-Board from Keith McMillen Instruments. Jamie Davis tinkles the metaphorical ivories with Jon Short, VP of Sales.

The K-Board is a portable keyboard for composers and artists who typically work with Garageband or other software for musical composition, connecting to the tablet via USB. Unlike many other mini piano keyboards, the K-Board has soft silicone pressure-sensitive pads for keys and buttons, allowing greater feeling to be expressed by the musician. The K-Board is very robust as well – watch the YouTube videos – and can be thrown into backpacks without a second thought.

The K-Board is available now with an RRP of $99 but it can be found cheaper online.

Interview by Jamie Davis of Health Tech Weekly for the TechPodcast Network.

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Kanex Multi-Sync Keyboard



kanexlogo
Todd chats with Tracy from Kanex at CES Digital Experience about their new Multi-Sync Keyboard for Apple devices.

Although touch is great way of interacting with tablets and smartphones, it really doesn’t replace a keyboard when it comes to large amounts of text entry. In response, many manufacturers have come out with add-on keyboards that typically connect to the tablet via Bluetooth. These are generally useful devices but usually it’s one keyboard-one device and often there’s already a keyboard on the desk for the PC, so the desk simply gets more cluttered.

Kanex’s solution the Multi-Sync Keyboard which allows 3 Bluetooth and 1 USB connection to be maintained at any one time – Mac, iPhone and iPad. The user can then switch between connections, entering text into just one device at a time but being able to connect to up to 4 devices. Brilliant! Currently, it’s only available for Apple devices, but future versions should support PCs.

On-sale now for US$69.95 at www.kanexlive.com.

Interview by Todd Cochrane of Geek News Central for the TechPodcast Network.

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Seal Shield Waterproof Covers



Seal Shield Logo

Todd and Don chat to Bradley Whitchurch from Seal Shield about their latest products aimed at both the healthcare market and technology users with active lifestyles. With expertise in waterproof and anti-microbial technologies, their core products are washable keyboards, mice and TV remote controls.

In the video, Bradley demonstrates the Seal Shield’s washable True Type keyboard by submersing it in warm water, along with an iPhone and iPad covered in Seal Shield’s Life Proof Shield. The Life Proof Shield is a skin which covers the product, keeping the water out and bug-free.

The Life Proof Shield is $29 for the iPad and can be purchased in a combo with the Life Proof Bumper case for $59 from Seal Shield’s site and other good retailers. More information at www.sealshield.com.

Interview by Don Baine, the Gadget Professor and Todd Cochrane of Geek News Central for the TechPodcast Network.

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Roccat Woos Gamers at CES



Roccat LogoHardware outfit Roccat Studios are dropping a whole bunch of new toys at CES  for the hardcore gamer, including headphones, mice and keyboards. Known for their signature Kone gaming mouse, the new products look the business.

First up are two additions to the Roccat range of mice. On the left, there’s the new Kone XTD Optical which has a 6,400 dpi optical sensor. If my maths is right, that means you can move the mouse just 4 micrometers and the movement will be picked up. That’s tiny – a piece of paper is about 90 micrometers thick. On the right, it’s the Kone Pure Military, coming in three different designs – Desert Strike, Naval Storm and Camo Charge. I like the look of these! The Pure Military “only” has a 5,000 dpi optical sensor. Both mice have Roccat’s tracking and distance control unit (TDCU) for more precise gaming and greater accuracy.

Kone XTD Optical Mouse      Kone Pure Military Mouse

 

Next are two additions to the Ryos keyboard range, the TKL and TKL Pro. Both are compact keyboards without the numeric keypad and the Pro version comes with per-key illumination and effects such as “breathing” and four different switch colours. As you’d expect from any serious gaming keyboard, keys can easily be programmed with macros and there are three additional programmable thumbster keys below the space bar.

Ryos TKL Keyboard

Finally, two new Kave XTD headsets have been announced – the 5.1 Analog and the Stereo. The 5.1 Analog is the successor to the original Kave 5.1 and is made for gamers who already have a 5.1 soundcard, with both audio jacks and USB connectors to power up the in-cable remote and LED lighting. Weight has been reduced by 25% while improving comfort and build quality.

The XTD Stereo has same design and build, with a pair of driver units giving rich gaming stereo sound. The noise-cancelling microphone can be removed when not required and the mute LED can silence the microphone at inappropriate moments.

Kave XTD Headset

 

Prices were not disclosed at time of announcement, but you can learn more at Roccat’s showroom in the Venetian Hotel during CES 2014.

 


Logitech unveils Special Edition Logitech Touch Keyboard K400 in White



Logitech has recently been releasing a line of new slim keyboards with built-in mouse pads. The latest in that line is the brand new K400 Touch Keyboard, which now comes in a limited edition white version.

The special edition keyboard boasts all the features you are used to in the traditional Logitech Wireless Touch Keyboard K400, including a built-in touchpad, long range wireless and plug-and-play connectivity, only now available in a bright white color.

While the keyboard can certainly be used on the desktop, the keyboard layout is also optimized for the living-room environment — it’s compact, and gives you direct access to media and entertainment keys. The keyboard even stores vertically, making it easy to put away when not in use.

The special edition Logitech Wireless Touch Keyboard K400 in white is expected to be available in the U.S. and Europe this September for a suggested retail price of $39.99 and GNC is attempting to get a review unit, so stay tuned.

logitech k400 white


Logitech announces a keyboard for your living room



These days many of us have computer devices in our home entertainment centers, be it a Google TV, Roku or something else. All of these devices come with remote controls, some of which have tiny QWERTY keyboards on the flipside. These may work, but it is not the best solution for some tasks. Now Logitech seeks to make your living room life a bit easier with a new keyboard specifically designed for this need.

Logitech tells us “Whether you’re using an Apple TV to stream iTunes, or catching up on your current Netflix obsession by connecting your laptop to your TV, there’s one thing you’ll need when browsing the Internet and apps on your TV: an easy way to navigate”.

Logitech is releasing both the Logitech Wireless Touch Keyboard K400 and the  Logitech Bluetooth Easy-Switch Keyboard, with the latter being specifically for Apple TV customers.

logitech k400

The K400 claims a wireless range of up to 33 feet and multi-touch touchpad built right into the keyboard. Meanwhile, the Easy-Switch uses Apple TV remote commands like Menu, Media Control, Select, D-Pad, Play/Pause and Tab, plus its keys are backlit and laid out in the traditional Mac-specific way, so you can easily find your commands even in the dark. It can also be paired with up to three devices at once and allows you to switch and type from your iPad to iPhone to Apple TV with the simple push of a button.

The K400 retails for $39.99, while the Easy-Switch is a bit pricier at $99.99. Both keyboards are available for sale now.


Swype is Out of Beta



Swype Swype came out of beta today. If you are unfamiliar with Swype it is an alternative keyboard for Android. One of the reasons I love Android is the ability to find the keyboard that you like. The Swype keyboard has several modes, which they named, the Typer, the Tapper, the Swyp’er and the Dictator. Typer are those people who use both hands to type and don’t look at the results, (your typing teacher is beaming), Tappers look at the results as they type, Swype’er swipe from one letter to the next, and Dictators like to dictate their messages. Swype primary method is swiping. If you are like me and grew up learning to type on a typewriter, swiping can take some time to get use to. The key is not to think too much and just let your fingers swipe. I find if I start thinking about what I am swiping I tend to make more mistakes. Just start swiping and the app will predicts what you are trying to type. Yes, sometimes it will predict incorrectly, but over time it will get better the more you use it. You can easily go from swiping to typing or dictating depending on your mode.

Swype was brought by Nuance in October 2011. Nuance is the maker of Dragon Dictate the application that allows you to dictate your messages. If you get tired of swiping then Swype voice dictation option is available to you. Because is based on Nuance it does recognize your voice fairly well. Swype learns your tendencies the more you use it. It will pick up words that you use all time like your name or the city you live in, etc. If you connect your social networks Facebook, Twitter and Google Swype will personalize your usages. Swype also supports dialects and will load local words.

Swype is available in the Google Play Store at .99 cents for a limited time. There is also a 30 day free trial version available. I recommend trying the 30 day trial version first, I think if you give it a chance you will end up getting the full version before the 30 day trial version is over.


Apple Keyboard Overlays from KB Covers



KB Cover Keyboard OverlayKB Covers produce lightweight and flexible keyboard overlays for Apple Macs to help make people more productive with complex software applications or type in foreign languages. Andy and Scott find out what’s happening with KB Covers from Bruce Franklin.

KB Covers produces overlays for Apple Macintosh desktop and laptop computers, covering both current and older models. Generally there are three kinds of overlays: those for protection or decoration, for foreign languages and for advanced application use, where keyboard shortcuts are key to being proficient in the app. Each year, KB Covers comes out with additional overlays for extra languages and new applications, often at the suggestion of customers.

The overlays are available on-line from around $20.

Interview by Andy McCaskey of SDR News and Scott Ertz of F5 Live: Refreshing Technology for the TechPodcast Network.

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