Ideazon Zboard ReviewFormer staff writer - June 18, 2003
The Zboard is very sleek and stylish looking with the black/silver color scheme, which gives it that high-tech look. Along the very top of the Zboard there are seven keys to adjust your sound volume and to control your multimedia playback. I find these keys very handy while I'm gaming to switch songs in winamp without having to switch to the desktop and do it manually. There are also ten more keys along the top of the Zboard that launch applications like email, Internet, calculator, My Computer, and more. All of these keys can also be re-mapped to launch the applications of your choice. I really wished that these keys were lighted so you could easily find the in the dark. I noticed that the buttons are clear so adding a few LED's behind them wouldn't be that difficult. Maybe I'll tear open the Zboard one day, and do just that! :)
The interface in the picture below is called the Windows / Internet Explorer interface and it's designed to help speed up your productivity while surfing the web or doing everyday tasks in Windows. I found that most of the hotkeys labeled on this interface were hotkeys already built-in Windows & Internet Explorer! All of the hotkeys can be accessed on a regular keyboard, except for the ones found the numeric keypad. There's a total of 16 hotkeys on the numeric keypad and some of them includes: Show Desktop, Search, My Computer, Task Manager, Control Panel, Display Settings, and Add to Favorites.
The cord on the Zboard is very lengthy and if I had to guess, its about 7-8 feet long! Several weeks ago my keyboard broke and I had to go out and find a new one. I searched every computer store in town for a black keyboard that had a cord atleast 7 feet long, but I found no such thing. I ended up buying a PS/2 cable extension so that my keyboard would reach the back of my computer. With the Zboard I no longer require the PS/2 extension cable. I just wished I had heard about the Zboard before I bought the PS/2 extension cable.
The underside of the Zboard appears to be made very well. The back is reinforced with three thin pieces of plastic running from side to side, with a peg in the middle that has a rubber on the end of it. On the front you will find two more rubber feet that helps prevent the Zboard from moving around on your computer desk.
The two feet located under the Zboard extend to make the Zboard taller and easier to type on.
Swapping out interfaces is really simple as pulling this lever and snapping it back down in place.
Once the interface is unfastened you can take the interface out of the base very easily, and the interface folds "Z" shaped for storage.
One thing I noticed when I folded up the interface is that the keys are flush with the edges of the interface to prevent the keys from being damaged.
This is what the Zboard base looks like without an interface installed. The rubber buttons shown here is what makes contact with the buttons on the interfaces, and also makes contact with the PCB inside of the Zboard base. When you push a button on one of the interfaces it pushes the rubber in to the Zboard base and strikes the PCB (Printer Circuit Board). The PCB then sends a specific signal that corresponds with the key you pushed to your computer. The Zboard driver (software that you will see later in the review) captures the signal, processes it, and then sends it off to the operating system.
In the top right hand corner of the Zboard there's a wire socket that comes in contact with the Zboard interfaces.
If you take a look at one of the Zboard interfaces you will see where it comes in contact. This appears to be a PCB which probably has a computer chip behind it.
Being curious I just had to open it up and see what was hidden behind it. I quickly found out that my assumptions were correct because it did have a computer chip behind it, along with some resistors. I'm sure that this computer chip is what tells the Zboard software what type of Zboard interface is in the Zboard base.