PCs used in the home are sometimes connected to television sets, rather than monitors. It’s not a trend that’s taken off particularly quickly in the UK, but with many new graphics cards having built-in TV output connectors, that could soon change. In such a situation, the last thing you want is a nest of cables cluttering up your living room floor, so a wireless keyboard and mouse is the best option. This one uses infra-red, and so needs a line of sight in the same way as a TV remote control does.
Arowana’s Airboard has keyboard and mouse functions built into the single unit. It is powered by four AA batteries (for which Arowana claims up to 60 hours of continuous typing use, with virtually no current drawn in ‘sleep’ mode), while the receiver takes its power from the PC’s keyboard port. Operation is a simple case of plug in and go, although there are drivers to enhance the operation of the mouse and also for programming the extra row of 14 function keys that by default control CD audio, volume, Web access and so on.
The smaller-than-usual space bar and function keys are a legacy of this keyboard’s notebook PC roots, but they don’t cause too many problems in normal use. The key action is pretty positive, although you wouldn’t really want to spend too much time typing with the board on your lap – that way lies severe wrist strain. For occasional use, though, it’s pretty comfortable.
The Airboard has a mouse control device built in, one that could best be described as a protruding nipple. Moving this with your thumb moves the mouse pointer on screen, and there are mouse buttons, too, one of which simulates the ‘drag and drop’ operation. One problem with some such devices is that they have problems with PS/2 connectors, but the Airboard comes with adapters that allow it to be used with PS/2 or serial mouse ports, as well as DIN or PS/2 keyboard ports.
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