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 for the TechPodcast Network.

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Update On Belkin “YourType” Folio + Keyboard For iPad 2 & iPad 3

Belkin Bluetooth Folio KeyboardRecently I purchased a Belkin “YourType” Folio + Keyboard for my iPad 2. The unit operates via Bluetooth. When I initially began using it I noticed there was a rather prominent problem with rather frequent lost or multiple keystrokes when a given key was only hit once. I didn’t know if this was a Bluetooth problem, or a problem with iOS 6 taking too many CPU cycles on an iPad 2. An iPad 3 might not suffer from the same lost keystroke problem when connected to a Bluetooth keyboard since it comes with a faster processor with much improved performance.

So, I started a bit of troubleshooting. One of the things I suspected might be stealing CPU cycles was app notifications. My one and a half year old iPod Touch really became sluggish after installing iOS 5 on it. I was able to mitigate the sluggish iPod response problem somewhat by turning off push notifications for the vast majority of apps. So, I turned off all of the push notifications on my iPad 2.

Turning off all push notifications did seem to help, but did not entirely fix the problem. I started experimenting with typing old standby typing phrases such as “Now is the time for all good men to come to the aid of their country.” This phrase seemed to type in just fine with no lost keystrokes. But then when I started typing other things, I noticed the lost keystroke problem immediately reared its ugly head once again.

What could the problem be? What about that automatic spell check that is enabled by default in iOS 6? Could that be an issue? I went into the iPad settings and turned off the automatic spell checker, along with the automatic correction feature, as well as eliminating the sample shortcut that comes with iOS 6, and that helped out even more.

For good measure, I also went through and deleted as many apps as I could that I really don’t make use of on my iPad.

Since my iPad 2 is WiFi only, I also have an external “Dual” GPS unit that connects to the iPad via Bluetooth so I can use the iPad as a GPS device with apps such as TomTom, USA Atlas (Hema) and Co Pilot. I noticed if I turn it off while I’m using the Belkin Bluetooth keyboard, it helps reduce the occasional lag problem even more.

All of these things combined have improved the Bluetooth keyboard response dramatically. There are still a few dropped keys now and then, but at this point they are much less frequent to the point where the keyboard is now quite usable.

It’s likely that had I never upgraded the iPad 2 beyond iOS version 4, there likely wouldn’t be a Bluetooth keyboard lag problem. Why is it we seem to always scream for the latest iOS updates, but then ultimimately end up annoyed by poor performance?

Belkin “YourType” Folio + Keyboard For iPad 2 & iPad 3

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Not long after I purchased my iPad 2, I ended up finding a Bluetooth keyboard case combination on a discount table at a Flying J truck stop priced for $15 dollars. For that low price, I figured I couldn’t go wrong.

Unfortunately, you do get what you pay for. The keyboard quality was very low. It was extremely difficult to type on the rubberized keys — actually no better than the virtual iPad keyboard.

So, I did some looking around online for Bluetooth iPad keyboard reviews and ended up getting a Belkin “YourType” Folio + Keyboard.

Typing on the Belkin keyboard is much easier than the experience I had with the other keyboard. The keys on the Belkin seem to work a bit better and have better overall placement for touch typing.

The Belkin keyboard does not replicate the experience of typing on a good computer keyboard. Also, there seems to be a problem with some occasional lag from when keys are pressed, or even key presses that are missed or ignored. I figure this problem is likely caused by iPad 2 performance issues, and not the Belkin keyboard itself since I experienced the same issues with the prior inexpensive Bluetooth keyboard.

It’s possible that I just have too many apps installed and they are stealing CPU cycles. My iPod Touch, which has an even slower processor than my iPad 2, also suffers occasional stuttering and delays just with everyday use. Turning off push notifications does seem to help this problem on the iPod and may help out on the iPad. The next step would be to start deleting unused or underused apps to see if CPU cycles can be freed back up for improved Bluetooth keyboard performance.

The functionality as a case seems to work as expected. The iPad 2 itself fits snugly in the sleeve. There are cut outs for the on/off switch and volume control, as well as for both the front and rear facing cameras and the home button. It comes with a micro USB charging cable, but you will have to provide the USB charging port.

If I can clear up the Bluetooth lag problem, the Belkin “YouType” Folio + Keyboard would make for a good typing experience for the iPad.

KB Covers Keyboard Overlays

KB Covers offer specialised keyboard covers for Apple Macs and MacBooks. Rather than dust covers, these are keyboard overlays which re-label for foreign languages or show keyboard shortcuts.

KB Cover Keyboard Overlay

A good example for the former is a foreign language student who wishes to use a keyboard with the studied country’s layout and alphabet. Imagine the convenience for students of Arabic or Cyrillic languages. For software packages, the overlays highlight keyboard shortcuts to enhance productivity – it’s much faster to press “alt-f” than it is to use the mouse to select an item from a pull-down menu. All major software is covered – Photoshop, Final Cut, Media Composer, Sibelius, etc.

The overlays are a ultra-thin and made from high quality silicone. There’s a big selection of overlays for different countries and software packages. Prices are in the range $20-$40 and I think they’re great value.

Interview by Andy McCaskey and Courtney Wallin of SDR News and RV News Net.

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