Koribo Wireless Keyboard Roundup ReviewnVidia_Freak - March 21, 2011
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Installation is identical and straightforward for all three keyboards. Insert the batteries into their holders and plug in the USB wireless receiver. That's it. No further input from the user is required, because Windows takes care of everything.
- Processor: Phenom II x6 1055T
- CPU Cooling: Noctua NH-C12P-SE14
- CPU Fan(s): Noctua NF-P14
- Motherboard: Gigabyte GA-890FXA-UD5
- Memory: 2x2GB G.SKILL F3 PC3 12800 9-9-9-25 2T
- Video Card: XFX HD6970 2GB + BFG 8800GT (PhysX)
- Power Supply: XFX BE 850w
- Soundcard: ESI Juli@
- Amplifier: Little Dot Mk. V
- Hard Drive: Seagate Barracuda 7200.12 750GB
- OS: Windows 7 Ultimate x64
Testing of the keyboards was done over a period of approximately one week with daily usage. Each keyboard was tested as I normally use my Déck: watching videos, playing music, typing, and the occasional game. Special attention was given to the hotkeys and mousing ability of each keyboard. Note that as I don't have a Media Center Edition operating system, some of the hotkeys will not function as intended or not at all.
Typing with the Leira is somewhat bothersome, as I expected. The mushy keys caused me to occasionally miss keystrokes, because I didn't press them down hard enough. The close proximity of the keys caused me to stumble a quite a few times, most of which was hitting the caps lock key instead of 'A', and tapping the 'up' arrow key instead of right shift. Most people won't notice this and will probably adapt to the layout fairly easily, and by that I mean those that haven't been swayed to use a mechanical keyboard. An important thing to note is that numlock is off by default, and since there are no indicators to show this, some confusion will ensue until the numlock button is pressed. Certainly, I was worried that there was something wrong with the keyboard when I initially used it and found a third of my key presses entering numbers instead of letters! Simply tap the key and numlock will be off.
The multi-touch touchpad is very fun to use. I have a natural fascination touchpads, but I assure you it really is quite nifty. It works just like Koribo says it will; tapping with two fingers and moving both in the same direction acts as a scroll wheel, and tapping with three fingers is a right click. As for moving or extending windows, the mouse buttons on the left side of the keyboard make that possible. The touchpad is exceedingly enjoyable to use. The Leira really is an all-in-one keyboard/mouse.
The hotkeys functioned as you'd expect within Foobar and Media Player Home Cinema, with the exception that I was not able to fast forward or rewind movies, though, I was able to navigate by chapter just fine. While playing movies in Media Player Classic - Home Cinema, pressing the 'My Video' key loads the main menu. Within windowed applications, the 'X' key closes the program, so there's no need to spend any time hovering over the 'X' itself. The 'Home' key will open up a new browser if no program is currently active, and will load the home page in a new tab if one is already open and active. Curiously, the Media Center OS specific keys did have functions within Firefox, though I found this out only by trying them out. Pressing the 'My TV' key will also load the homepage in a new tab. 'My Video' selects the Google search bar and automatically selects all text currently entered in it. 'My Picture' opens the bookmark sidebar. And 'Live TV' opens a blank tab and selects the address bar.
To clear away some mystery about lights and buttons, I noticed when typing that the green LED on the USB receiver blinks any time activity is registered. Every time a button is pressed, the touchpad or scroll wheel used, the light blinks. I suppose that might come in handy if you're unsure if the keyboard is on or off, otherwise it might be somewhat annoying depending on where and how the receiver is placed. I also discovered that the keyboard does in fact have a power off function, though how to use it isn't very clear. The small, unlabeled button on the underside of the keyboard will shut the keyboard off when pressed. Turning it back on, however, is not so straight forward. Nowhere is the way to do this mentioned on the box or on Koribo's website, however, I did manage to figure it out. The button on the receiver must be pressed first, after which the LED will blink on and off for some time. While the LED is blinking, the button on the back of the keyboard must be pressed, and that turns the keyboard back on. So that's what those buttons are for and how to use them. Turning the keyboard on might be a slight inconvenience if the receiver isnt't readily available, though.
As these keyboards are primarily aimed for MC/HTPC use, I didn't try to play any very fast paced games or FPSs. Instead, I fooled around with Minecraft for a little while to see how easy it was to play using just the keyboard. Minecraft is a very easy going game that doesn't require quick decisions and movements, and I imagine this might be along the upper end of the sort of games you might play on a rig primarily used as an MP/HTPC. My thinking is that if I can't play Minecraft, or, I become frustrated trying to play Minecraft with one of these keyboards, it probably won't do so well with a fast paced FPS. The Leira did surprisingly well, in large part because of the multi-touch capability touchpad. The right-click is absolutely necessary to play Minecraft, and so even without the additional left and right mouse buttons, the Leira would still be able to get by. That's not to say that you can play Minecraft very quickly with the Leira. It's not so easy to make quick movements with a touchpad, but, it certainly is playable, though, some patience is required. All things considered, the Leira is a very nice multimedia keyboard that can theoretically be used to game.
Typing with the Vivar isn't as bothersome as with the Leira. Although the keys are still closer to together and some mistakes and mis-presses occurred, it's somewhat 'nicer' when it does happen. A good thing with the Vivar is that numlock is on by default like it should be! Like the Leira, the Vivar has no indicator to show if it's on or not, and so because it is on by default there's no confusion.
The Vivar uses a trackball instead of a touchpad, and it's actually not so bad. This was my introduction to using a trackball mouse and I am pleased with it. Obviously, there's no special functionality with it, but it works. Using the trackball is much quicker, though possibly because of that, not quite as precise as a touchpad. The mouse buttons and scroll wheel work like they should, and I found that the button on the front right side of the keyboard is a secondary left-click button. The idea is to use the trackball with your thumb, and use the left-click button with either your middle or forefinger. This works quite nicely and leaves the left hand to take care of right-clicks and scrolling.
Hotkeys function within Foobar and MPCHC as I expected with one curiosity; using the FFWD and RWD buttons pauses video instead of fast forwarding or rewinding. The button with the picture of a computer on it no longer remains mysterious to me, as I discovered that it opens up a 'My Computer' window. Within Firefox using the FFWD and RWD buttons act as page forward and back, and the 'Home' key has the same functionality as with the Leira. Unfortunately, there are no MC/HTPC specific buttons, and so the Vivar is a fairly standard multimedia keyboard.
The USB receiver from the Vivar also has an activity LED. This one, however, is a glaring blue instead of green and is very bright and annoying, particularly in the dark. The Vivar's power, however, can be toggled without the need to touch the receiver, and so it can be hidden away where it won't be so annoying. Just like the Leira, it's not so obvious how to toggle the power. To turn the Vivar off, press and hold the 'Connect' button for about ten seconds. After releasing the button the Vivar is off. To turn it back on simply tap the button once. When using the USB cable to charge the batteries, the LED glows a steady red. Unfortunately, it is not possible to use the cable to connect the Vivar to a PC, so, if you just don't have any batteries or lose the receiver, you're out of luck.
Using the Vivar to play games is slightly more difficult than with the Leira. Although the trackball does make quick movement possible, clicking and moving at the same time is somewhat difficult because the mouse buttons and planar movement are controlled by the same hand. Using the trackball and nearby left-click button, although traditional, is a little odd to me because I'm not used to left-clicking with my middle or forefinger. The left hand side buttons can also be used, though they nearly require that all planar movement ceases to use them. Switching between gaming and normal modes was not obvious at first. In fact, I discovered the difference outside of Minecraft. When in gaming mode outside of a game, all left-clicks become two single clicks, even if the button is held down. I can't imagine what good it would do in any game, because it certainly didn't help in Minecraft, as holding the left-click button down acts as a single click instead of a continuous click. Perhaps it would provide some novelty fun in other games by firing single shots from an automatic weapon, but, anything else is beyond me. Gaming is possible with the Vivar, though it's not quite as fun or satisfying as the Leira.
The Mini is an awkward little thing. If typing away with your thumbs on a cellphone excites you, you might like the Mini. I don't. Typing is a very slow process, because only the thumbs, or more properly thumbnails, make contact with the keys. The angle at which my thumbs were bent also made them uncomfortable very quickly.
The Mini uses a small thumbstick to act as a mouse. Unfortunately, it's very slow and somewhat odd using to move the cursor around. Spinning the top of the thumbstick produces no result contrary to what I thought, however, I discovered what the curious drawing immediately next to it that looks somewhat like a thermometer does. That little area is a sort of mini-touchpad that acts as a scroll wheel, though, it has only scroll up/down functionality. What I don't care for about the scroll-pad is that it requires more than usual force to engage, and once it is, it's very sensitive, requiring multiple corrections to scroll to where intended. It's a nifty feature, though it could've been implemented a little better.
The hotkeys worked and produced effects just the same as the Leira's. The Mini does have one additional, nifty function button that brings up the program selection menu to select which open program will be the active one. Certainly this is a useful addition considering how awkward the thumbstick mouse is.
The smallest wireless receiver of the bunch has no activity LED, though it certainly would have helped. While testing the Mini I was continually plagued with reception problems. Normal testing was conducted with the keyboards only several feet from the receiver, and the Mini presented problems even at such close range. Multiple times I would try entering text and commands and would see no or only partial results. After continual confusion, I managed to see that if anything, including my leg, was placed in front of the Mini the reception would be interrupted. With a media center keyboard this is a very large problem if the computer isn't immediately nearby. The fact that it has trouble only several feet away, when it should be able to be used through walls is disconcerting.
I attempted to play Minecraft with the Mini, however, reception interruptions, slowness of the joystick, and clumsily moving about made progress utterly slow. I have a hard time finding good things to say about the Mini, so I'll just say that the Mini has the most obvious and clearly labeled power switch of the three keyboards. That's a good thing, isn't it?