Vidabox Premium Wireless Keyboard Review
Reviewed by: TheScavenger
Reviewed on: October 19, 2008
For a single piece of hardware to enhance your digital life, it must be both innovative and practical. This occurence is rare but may be accomplished by something even as mundane as a wireless keyboard.
Due to an increase in home theatre use, streamlined and portable input devices are in high demand. This is where the New York based hardware company, Vidabox, enters the picture. Although Vidabox may be relatively unknown to the average consumer, it consistently produces a variety of high-quality media center devices, such as media extenders and input devices. The Premium Wireless Keyboard is one of these quality products. By combining a lightweight and ergonomic design, the Premium Wireless Keyboard may have successfully created an innovative device.
The Vidabox keyboard comes packaged in a plain white box, which simply lists the model number, product name and manufacturer information. The contents of the box are safely enclosed in bubble wrap.
In the interior of box, there is the wireless keyboard, three AA batteries, a wireless USB receiver, and a black storage bag. Also, there is a one-page manual that instructs you on the installation and synchronization of the keyboard.
The overall appearance of the Premium Wireless keyboard is pleasant, but plain. The black and grey color scheme is vaguely reminiscent of an older laptop keyboard. Regardless of aesthetics, the keyboard layout is practical and well thought-out. The key positions are similar to a laptop keyboard in their proximity to each other.
The feature that makes this Vidabox keyboard stand out from most other keyboards, is the integration of a laser trackball into the upper-right keyboard surface. In addition, left and right mouse buttons can be found in the upper left-hand corner. This particular arrangement of the trackball and buttons suggests that two hands are needed to fully operate the mouse. This 2000-dpi trackball is very sensitive, so consider turning down your mouse sensitivity.
After flipping over the keyboard, you can access the battery compartment. The underside of the keyboard also has rubber feet to prevent slipping.
In addition to the standard array of keyboard buttons, the Vidabox Premium Wireless keyboard has 11 hotkey buttons. From left to right, these buttons are: keyboard synchronization, Windows Media Center, volume mute, volume down, volume up, pause/play, stop, track back, track forward, Microsoft Outlook, and web browser.
While the lack of a traditional number pad seems evident you can press the numlock keyand the number pad is shown in the blue circles on the keyboard. The delete key is located next to the insert key on the bottom row of buttons in the traditional laptop keyboard location.
Since the Premium Wireless Keyboard doesn't require a driver, installation is literally plug-and-play. All I had to do was find an available USB port, slide in the USB receiver, push the synchronization button on the receiver, and then push the synchronization button on the keyboard. Once the USB receiver was plugged in to the USB port, Windows installed a generic plug-and-play driver. Since there isn't any software to install as well, the keyboard and all of its features were completely ready to use.
The synchronization button is the small white circle found in the middle of the receiver.
The keyboard's synchronization button is found in between the two mouse buttons and the Windows Media Center hot key.
Trackball DPI Rating
3 AA Batteries
6 months stand-by
12.83” x 5.04” x .97”
- Includes a "Green Button" Hotkey that Launches Media Center with Just One Touch
- Reception through obstructions such as People and Walls drastically improved
- Battery Life Greatly Extended to Six Months
- 30-foot (10m) wireless range
- Compact form factor with integrated 2000 dpi laser trackball pointing device and mouse buttons
- Auto-shutoff feature preserves battery life
- Requires 3 AA batteries (alkaline or rechargeable - included)
- High performance, high frequency wireless allows minimal dropped signals/dead zones
- Premium anti-dust keyboard pouch included
Next, I will run the Vidabox keyboard through a series of simple application tests to measure its functionality and ease of use.
- Processor: Intel Q9450 Core 2 Quad 333x8
- Motherboard: Gigabyte X48-DQ6
- Memory: Mushkin XP2 Redline 8000 2 x 2GB 5-5-5-12
- Video Card(s): Palit HD4850
- Power Supply: Mushkin 800 watt Modular power supply
- Hard Drive: 1 x Seagate 1TB SATA
- Optical Drive: NEC DV5700
- OS: Windows Vista Ultimate Edition
After I initially installed the Vidabox keyboard, it took a few minutes to get familiar with the compressed layout of the keys. I also noticed that when the keyboard is held with both hands like an oversized console game controller, the track ball and buttons are easier to use. I was amazed by how light-weight and thin the Premium wireless was. Lifting the keyboard was almost effortless, which made it fantastic for transporting the keyboard around my PC and media center. Moving on, I put the device through a series of usability tests.
First, I loaded up Firefox using the keyboard hot key to test some web browsing capability. I found that browser windows and tabs were easy to navigate, but once the mouse pointer sensitivity was turned down, ease of navigation improved greatly.
Next, I tested the keyboard by navigating Windows Explorer. Files and folders were effortless to move and scrolling was simple as well. During this test I did notice that the trackball moves a lot smoother when the keyboard is laying closer to a horizontal position rather than a vertical position. This is because the actual ball slightly falls away from its housing when turned vertically, which makes the ball harder to move accurately.
Moving on, I created a Word file to test the fluidity and ease of the Premium Wireless' typing action. I found typing to be a lot slower on the smaller layout of the Vidabox than on a full size keyboard. I am sure a lot of this has to do with my lack of familiarity with laptop-sized keyboards. I must point out that my typing speed increased dramatically after the first 30 minutes of use.
Finally, I tested the wireless range of the keyboard. Vidabox's website states that the Premium Wireless has a range of up to 30 feet. I believe this 100%. The range on the keyboard is incredible. I could take the keyboard into any room adjacent to my PC and it would still maintain a strong connection.
Overall, the Premium Wireless keyboard is nicely designed for use as an HTPC keyboard. Its slim size and light-weight, make it ideal for placing on a couch or coffee table next to your media hub. As I mentioned before, the wireless range is outstanding and the keyboard hotkeys are useful and intuitively placed. Installation and configuration could not be any easier - just plug in the Bluetooth transmitter, marry the Vidabox keyboard to the transmitter and you are off to the races. Instead of using an optical sensor for the trackball, Vidabox has followed the path that many traditional pointing devices have traveled, by installing a laser instead of an optical sensor. Ideally, precision and movement should improve with this type of addition. In this case, the trackball was very sensitive, so adjusting the sensitivity to the level that works best for you is preferred.
On the other hand, the Premium Wireless wasn't as impressive when used for certain simple tasks. For example, typing and editing a document was frustrating, due to the proximity of the keys to each other. After using the Vidabox keyboard the size is much the same as a laptop keyboard and is arranged similarly key size and all. In addition, the styling of the keyboard is uninteresting and the color scheme is dated. HTPC keyboards are evolving all the time as more and more computer users are building an HTPC for their home entertainment needs. When you throw pricing into the equation the Vidabox keyboard will fulfill the need until the next big evolution at the right price.
Vidabox has given the OCC readers a bonus and have offered up a 10% discount when the Vidabox Premium Wireless Keyboard is purchased from their e-store. Use coupon code overclockersclub to get your discount
- Small size
- Light weight
- Incredible range
- Practical shortcuts
- Ease of installation
- Track ball design
- Bland aesthetics
- Cramped keys