If you’re still thinking of your keyboard as nothing more than a tray of letters that hogs valuable desk space, it’s time to step into the 21st century. Keyboards have evolved into sleeker, smarter multitasking machines. Here are some of the niftiest out there.
The all-in-one Asus Eee keyboard packs an entire computer into its full-size QWERTY frame. While still a prototype, rumor has it that the device will start shipping in September 2009. Eee has a 5-inch touch screen that can be used for Web browsing, shortcuts, media player access, and more. Although the snazzy little LCD screen makes the keyboard a true all-in-one, the Eee is ideal for hooking up to your TV or existing computer monitor. It comes with ultra wideband HDMI, as well as Wi-Fi 802.11b/g/n, Bluetooth, 1GB of RAM, 16GB or 32GB solid state drive, a four-in-one memory card reader, built-in microphone and speakers, and a bevy of ports. All-in-one computer keyboards aren’t new, but Eee is possibly the coolest one to date. Weighing in at less than two pounds, the keyboard has individually inset keys in a stylish silver-colored frame. No word yet on pricing.
For those of you still grumbling about desk space, Adesso has introduced two new touchpad keyboards that eliminate the need for a mouse. Adesso calls the 86-button WKB-4100 a “mini keyboard.” It boasts a wireless range of up to 100 feet from the receiver and has Internet, multimedia, and MCE keys. The AKB-420 would be even slimmer than the WKB-4100 but for its molded wrist rest. It has 11 multimedia and Web hot keys, for a total of 87 buttons. Installing the Glidepoint touchpad driver allows for advanced features such as horizontal scrolling, zoom, and back and forward functions. The WKB-4100 is $99.95 while the wired AKB-420 is just $59.95. Not all users will be able to get used to the idea of using the keyboard instead of a mouse, but Adesso’s new touchpad keyboards are a great example of how computer peripherals are becoming more compact.
Seal Shield sells several antimicrobial, waterproof keyboards. In January it announced the Silver Surf touch keyboard, which is dishwasher safe and can be fully submerged in water. Silver Surf is embedded with silver ions to inhibit microbial growth. The keyboard is ideal for hospitals, schools, homes, and any place where there are multiple users. And yes, you can even use the 2.4GHz wireless version in the bathtub; the Silver Surf works under water. The keyboard comes with a touchpad and goes for $89.99. Seal Shield also sells washable, medical-grade keyboards, which have the potential to make places like hospitals and other work environments safer by preventing the spread of germs.
Logitech has created the ultimate gamer’s gadget, the G19. The gaming keyboard comes with a tiltable 320-by-240-pixel LCD made for game stats, system information, Voice over Internet Protocol data, video playback, and more. Plus it can stream YouTube videos. With 12 programmable G-keys and three macros per key, there’s enough flexibility for even hardcore gamers. The G19 has two built-in USB ports and intelligent cable management, but users have to use an AC adapter to power the LCD screen. Having the best gaming keyboard on the block will cost you: G19 is listed at $199.99. Although Logitech doesn’t have a release date, you can expect it to go on sale sooner rather than later.
And for Klingons who are tired of relying on handwritten correspondence, there’s Cherry’s Klingon Language Wired Standard Keyboard, which uses the alphabet of the Star Trek aliens’ own language. The keyboard, based on Cherry’s bestselling G83-6000 series keyboards, has 105 keys, uses PS/2 connection, and comes in black. Other features include Klingon font, NTK switch technology, and laser-etched keycaps. Don’t speak Klingon? For around $65, it’s the perfect gift for the Trekkie in your office.