I would like to thank VidaBox
for supplying the review sample.
With the world increasingly going digital in the past few years there has been an increase in the number of HTPC users and the hardware that goes along with it. With this, HTPC hardware and accessories are also becoming more in demand and Vidabox based out of New York is here to fill that demand with various HTPC products with various high-end integration systems, chassis, media centers and other items for a wide range of applications. Keyboards have been somewhat of a hit or miss item when it comes to home theater, however Vidabox may have a good solution with their Vidabox Premium Wireless Keyboard with laser trackball that we will take a look at today.
- 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)
- Battery Life: Six (6) month stand-by time
- High performance, high frequency wireless allows minimal dropped signals/dead zones
- Premium anti-dust keyboard pouch included
- Dimensions: 12.83" x 5.04" x .97" (326mm x 128mm x 24.72mm)
- Weight: 1.13lbs (512 grams)
- Auto-Shutoff feature to help conserve battery life
Vidabox ships the keyboard in a plain white box. In the upper left corner of the box a sticker is applied with the company's logo, product identification, the serial number, and the address and website of the company. Since Vidabox ships direct, there's no need for fancy packaging to advertise in retail stores.
Inside the box, everything is securely packaged in cardboard and bubble wrap and includes the keyboard, a nylon pouch for the keyboard, a USB receiver, three AA batteries, and the instructions printed on a single piece of paper. The instructions do a fine job of guiding a user through setting up the keyboard properly with straightforward directions and black and white photos. However missing from the literature are the specifications of the product, a help/customer service contact and a list of items in the package.
A Closer Look
The keyboard features a textured black finish that gives off a light metal flake effect. They main keys are a lighter grey in color while the rest are a darker grey and it's all in the standard QWERTY configuration. It's about as thick as an average desktop keyboard, and as you can see the keys have been condensed to fit into a smaller configuration all while maintaining a standard sized key allowing the keys to spread out over the close to 13" wide keyboard. The back of the keyboard is recessed on the left and right side and has the compartment to install the batteries. The USB receiver is made out of the same black textured plastic of the keyboard and is quite small and unobstructive.
Having a good look at the keys themselves, all the options are where you would expect them on a desktop keyboard but in a smaller HTPC friendly configuration. One of the things that is condensed is the number pad. Vidabox has kept the Num Lock button on the keyboard and when pressed, the right side of the keyboard becomes the number pad making that last minute number-crunching on the sofa ever so easy. The keys only require a light tap for operation and require about half the depression of a standard keyboard. Typing on it is very comfortable and should be easily recognizable to anyone who's used a laptop before.
Located at the top of the keyboard are twelve hot keys. The first is the keyboard synchronization button which we'll discuss in a moment. The next key takes you directly into Window Media Center functions followed by a mute key, volume down, volume up and a pause/play key. Next is stop, play, forward and backwards all of which can be used to control a movie or music for example. The last two keys are for accessing email and internet. On the top left side of the keyboard are the left/right click buttons and on the right side is the laser trackball.
Setup of this keyboard is very easy. Install the three included batteries into the back of the keyboard, plug the USB receiver into a USB outlet and basically it's ready to go! If the keyboard doesn't synchronize (which never happened during this review), what's required is pressing the small button on the receiver with a paper clip, then press the "Keyboard Synchronization Button" on the keyboard while in front of the receiver. Once the keyboard is in operation, the user can place it on their lap and begin typing away. A very nice ergonomic design feature of this keyboard is that it has recessions in the back, allowing the user to grip the left and right side of the keyboard while having access to the left/right click and trackball functions.
The trackball is extremely responsive and one may find themselves in the mouse control panel turning down the sensitivity to suit their taste. After a couple minutes the trackball felt comfortable and there were no problems getting around the screen. The left/right click buttons work as they should, however they require just a bit more pressure to operate compared to many standard mice on the market. The keys are quick, responsive, and well laid out for a smaller keyboard. Even those with larger hands shouldn't have problems using the Vidabox Premium Wireless Keyboard, as this particular reviewer has such hands, and has effectively written this brilliant review with it! All while on the couch!
A welcome addition would be placing a scroll wheel next to the trackball, though scrolling pages isn't too tough with good placement of the Page Up and Page Down keys. Gaming wouldn't be this keyboard's strength and it's really not designed to do so, however games like RTS's and some of your other point and click type games can be easily managed. Surfing the Internet, light writing, checking email, and all from the comfort of your living room is where the Vidabox Premium Wireless Keyboard excels and does it without being cumbersome in any way.
There was not a hitch in the wireless signal during the entire review with most of the review being done 15 feet away from the USB reciever that was plugged in behind the computer case. After about 25 feet with this configuration the keyboard starts to lose its signal. Putting the reciever into a front USB connector on the same case yielded over 35 feet before the signal started to degrade. At that distance away it was rather hard to see any text on the screen henceforth, the wireless capabilities of this keyboard are excellent.
Value & Conclusion
- At the time of this review the Vidabox Premium Wireless Keyboard w/ Laser Trackball can be had for $69.99 directly from Vidabox.
All TechPowerUp! readers get 10% off the keyboard by entering the coupon code "techpowerup" during checkout at the Vidabox online store.
- Excellent range
- Easy to setup
- Good layout
- Precise trackball
- Sized right
- Num Lock option
- Two types of hand placement
- Good use of hotkeys
- Left/Right click pressure
- No scroll wheel
- Price at a premium
The Vidabox Premium Wireless Keyboard is an absolute pleasure to work with while on a desk or on a sofa and would be a welcome addition to anyone using a HTPC. The keys are moderately light, responsive and easy to use no matter what position you find yourself in.
Being able to grip the keyboard on either side to use mainly the trackball function is an outstanding idea, and ideal for those browsing their music and video libraries. The left/right click buttons take a little while to get used to, but once one adapts it's not a problem.
Vidabox fills the gap for HTPC users who want control similar to their PC in an unobstructive, easy to use keyboard that takes away the hassle of dealing with a separate mouse and keyboard combination. Its fit and finish matches most modern electronics enclosures and it won't take up too much room on the living room's coffee table. The Vidabox Premium Wireless Keyboard certainly impresses.