Review: Vidabox Premium Wireless Keyboard with Optical Trackball

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Finding a nice keyboard to use with your Media Center isn’t
always the easiest thing to do.  Many keyboards
are either too pricey, not designed for use in your lap, or have some other
fatal flaw.  Vidabox has created a Premium
Wireless Keyboard with Optical Trackball
that comes standard on all of
their systems, and is also available for purchase separately that attempts to
find a solution to some of these problems. 
They were nice enough to send me one to review, so let’s get right into
it.

At first glance, you will notice that the Vidabox keyboard
is perfectly suited to live in your lap for hours upon hours.  The design is clean and doesn’t include too
many extra and unneeded buttons.   It
does have basic transport controls (play/pause, stop, skip, reply) along with
volume controls (up, down, mute) and a few extras (e-mail, web browser).   However,
for the purpose of controlling Media Center it is lacking in one way; there is
no Green Button.

For Green Button control freaks such as myself, who use the
Green Button for basic navigation this is a problem.  There is a keyboard shortcut in that you can
use (Windows key+ALT+ENTER) but it just isn’t the same.  The lack of a Green Button was really the
only thing wrong with the keyboard functions of the Vidabox Premium Wireless
Keyboard.  I was very pleased to find
that this keyboard types and feels just like a ThinkPad keyboard.  For any ThinkPad owners out there, you know
what I’m talking about.  For instant
messing, replying to e-mails, web browsing, or even typing a paper this
keyboard is a dream and better than the one sitting on my desk right now.

On to the integrated optical trackball (800dpi), it works very
well after some initial time to get comfortable with it.  When I first picked up this keyboard, the
speed of mouse was entirely to fast to deal with.  I lowered the pointer speed in the Control Panel,
but after a few days of using the keyboard I had to keep bumping it up until I
hit the original default speed it was set at.  Once you get a hold of it, the trackball works
amazing well and requires very little effort to get the mouse pointer where you
want it to be.

I do have two complaints about the mouse functions of this
keyboard.  First of all, the trackball is
prone to move slightly when you physically move the keyboard around.  It’s not so much of a big deal, except that in
Media Center the slightest movement of the mouse will bring the onscreen
transport controls up.  If you do a
significant bit of picking up the keyboard or tilting it up and down, this
might annoy you.

The second problem I have is with the placement of the mouse
buttons and the trackball. With the trackball at the top right and the mouse
buttons at the top left, you do have to reposition your hands to use either the
mouse or to type.  I would really like to
see a pointing stick (TrackPoint) used on this keyboard to get around this
problem.  While it can be annoying to
reposition your hands, it is another one of those things just I got use to
after a few days and then it was no longer an issue.

Overall, the Vidabox Premium Wireless Keyboard with Optical
Trackball is better then many of the current keyboards out there for use on the
couch, but there are a few design elements that could be done better in the
future.  It has a 30-foot range (I tested
up to 20-feet with great results) and auto-shut off of the optical trackball to
save battery life.

Interested?  Use the coupon
code “chrislanier” and get
a 10% discount that can be redeemed during the
checkout process at
Vidabox’s website
.

Included in the box:

Premium Wireless Keyboard with Optical Trackball

Three AA batteries

USB Receiver (with USB extension cable)

Pros:

Inexpensive ($69.99)

Designed for your lap

Optical Trackball/Mouse works well

Cons:

No Green Button

Control takes getting use to

Photos (Click for larger view)

One thought on “Review: Vidabox Premium Wireless Keyboard with Optical Trackball

  1. No Green Button is a deal breaker for me. The Microsoft Media Center Wireless Keyboard is still my keyboard of choice for use with MCE.

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