One of the difficulties of building a HTPC is unfortunately the keyboard. I find it hard to find just the right one every time some one asks me for a good HTPC keyboard. What does one want out of the keyboard? Well it has to be compact and light. Keeping weight down you might want to look for keyboards with lap top keys or something similar as they weigh much less. Today we have an opportunity to take a look at one of the smallest keyboards in the market, a KB178RT by AZiO Corporation. KB178RT is a Mini Thumb Keyboard which designed especially for HTPC computers. Let's spend some time with KB178RT as I strongly feel that you will find this unit appealing.
About the Product
Following information is taken from the AZiO's website.
Features and Benefits
A Controller for your HTPC or Media Device
Compact form factor perfect for two handed control of HTPCs and other multimedia
devices like nettops, game consoles, and media players with USB keyboard support.
2.4 GHz wireless RF Technology
Wireless freedom with a tested effective range of 30ft (10m). Control your multimedia
devices from any part of you room.
Scissor keycap architecture makes typing tactile and responsive. Left hand mouse buttons
and right hand mouse trackball allows for natural mouse clicks and cursor control.
The Perfect Size: The purpose of a keyboard is to input data to the PC.
Unfortunately, for most HTPC keyboards, they are either too small to touch-type or too big to thumb-type. The KB178RT is designed to be the perfect sized keyboard for thumb-typing.
Easy to Navigate: Built-in trackball left/right mouse buttons and multimedia hot keys makes controlling your HTPC a breeze.
Rechargeable Batteries: One of the biggest drawbacks of using a wireless keyboard is replacing the battery every so often, especially if extra batteries are not immediately available. With KB178RT, this situation can be avoided. Simply connect it to the USB port of your HTPC periodically and it will always stay charged and ready for use.
Compact Form Factor size designed specifically for Home Theater PC systems.
Easy Navigation using the built-in optical trackball.
2.4Ghz RF provides up to 30 feet in wireless range.
Rechargeable Batteries included.
Scissor Keycaps Architecture makes typing silent, stable and comfortable.
OS Support: Windows 2000/XP/Vista/7 (All Versions)
Switch Type: Scissor
Number of Keys: 63
Trackball Type: Optical
Radio: 2.4GHz Wireless RF
Battery: 2x AAA
Dimensions: 6.85" x 3.43" x 0.75" inches (LxWxH)
KB178RT HTPC Keyboard
Mini USB Receiver
2 AAA Rechargeable Batteries
Quick Start Guide
Mini USB Cable for Charging
Now that we got basic information out of the way, lets take a closer look at KB178RT Mini Thumb Keyboard.
Oh my! This is a small keyboard! Just by looking at the box you can figure out what you are dealing with here. AZiO did a hell of a job on the packaging as everything is very well described with vivid imagery and plenty of detailed features on both front and back of the shipping box.
Out of the Box
Opening KB178RT is very easy. Everything stayed in place while shipping and KB178RT was in a plastic pocket to protect is from any accidental scratches while shipping. This particular unit comes with a USB Wireless adapter, rechargeable batteries, charging cable and friendly user guide. What we thought was very cool is that KB178RT does not need any drivers and supports windows 2000 trough 7 operating systems.
Dimensions of KB178RT 6.85" x 3.43" x 0.75" inches (LxWxH) which is very small and should be comfortable for the hands. Also it is worth to mention that KB178RT keys are very soft and reminds me of laptop keys or something similar. The actual name for keys here is Scissor and this architecture promises quiet and precise performance. The back of KB178RT is pretty simple. Here we found a On/Off switch and Pairing button. Pairing button is what you hit when you want to pair the device with the transmitter. If you are not sure how to get that going a friendly user guide is always there to help. KB178RT also has four rubber legs which are handy if you planning to use this unit on a flat surface.
Stylish and thin
Mini USB Charger
As we mentioned earlier, KB178RT is very small and thin. We are talking about .75 inch thin. Pretty slick if you ask me. One major problem with other wireless keyboards is that every once in a while you need to replace batteries. KB178RT comes with two AAA rechargaeble batteries so you never have to look for spare. When you batteries get low, just use attached cable to plug the keyboard in and in about an hour you are ready to go again.
Multi Media Keys
Scissor Keycaps Architecture
KB178RT has some pretty cool features. On the top of the keyboard you can find media controls with power notifications. Media controls come extremely handy when playing media on HTPC. Keys include Home, Back, Play/Pause, Stop, Forward, Mute, Vol+ and Vol-. Very handy! I guess we need to mention that this keyboard is for right handed users. The left and right mouse buttons are located on the left top corner of the keyboard and the track ball is located on the right side of the keyboard.
Optical Track Ball
The track ball is optical so you are pretty much guaranteed the precised movement across the screen. The track ball slides very smooth. KB178RT connects to a small USB transmitter which is about the same size as a dime. This transmitter runs at 2.4 GHz and give you range up to 30 feet. WOW Not bad at all!
Ready to Rock!
The set up took about 2 minutes and we didn't ran in to any problems what so ever. KB178RT is plug and play so you will not have any problems installing or loading drivers.
I have a small personal HTPC which I rarely use and that is what I used KB178RT with. As promised, KB178RT has performed flawlessly and without any issues what so ever. Left, right, up, down what ever key you want is right at your finger tips. The range we were testing this unit was about 10 feet and that did not created any issues as well. Multi media keys were a pleasure to have. Listening to the music hasn't been easier.
Well what can I say, if you are looking for an ultra small HTPC keyboard then KB178RT might be just it. I really tried to find a problem with this unit but couldn't. It is small and light and offers all of the features you would get from a full size keyboard. Multi media keys and trackball with left and right mouse buttons are extremely useful as you do not need anything else but KB178RT. Batteries which came with the unit could be charged and recharged over and over as they are chargeable and hence will save you some cash on batteries in the long run. The range of KB178RT was excellent! This is a truly great Mini Thumb Keyboard and I think that AZiO did a hell of a job designing it and bringing it to US markets. KB178RT Mini Thumb Keyboard deserves a solid 10/10! Great product guys! Keep it up!
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