Cute home theater keyboard has built-in trackpad, but not much else to recommend it

nippon_key.jpg

For home theaters, I’m a big fan of those keyboard with built-in trackballs peddled by various Asiatic crap gadget purveyors. I have a Trust KB-2950, and I love it: it’s not good for lengthy amounts of typing, and the trackball control is hardly precise enough to do anything besides do the more basic mouse tasks with, but it’s cheap, small and it allows me to control my television computer while supine on the couch with a minimum of fuss.

I like this Sanwa keyboard a lot less. On the surface, it’s similar to the Trust keyboard I have, except it has a trackpad instead of a trackball. That seems, superficially, like an improvement over the Trust’s spinning ball bearing, but having the trackpad on the right side of the keyboard with the two buttons underneath isn’t a strong ergonomic solution for a keyboard that’s meant to be used on the lap. Using the mouse on the Trust makes more sense, even though it’s less precise: you hold the whole keyboard in your hands like a game controller, with the trackball as a joystick and the mouse buttons mounted in the shoulders.

Worse, this Sanwa doesn’t seem to have Media Center keys. And the price — almost $130 — is a hell of a lot more than the twenty five euros I spent for my Trust.

So nice try, Sanwa. But I still look forward to other companies trying this same concept. The Trust isn’t exactly a great or irreplaceable gadget: it’s just good enough in an ocean of incompetent designs.

Sanwa HTPC keyboard [Sanwa via Crunchgear]

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8 Responses to Cute home theater keyboard has built-in trackpad, but not much else to recommend it

  1. jmcferran says:

    Logitech DiNovo Edge is my vote for HTPC/HTMac Keyboard. Yes it’s $130, but it’s so gorgeous.

  2. dculberson says:

    Well, I’d say that the trackpad on the right is a lot better for a keyboard that’s used on your lap compared to the Trust which, as you say, has to be held like a game controller.

    I like that this is a full-size keyboard; that’s nice. The old Gateway Destination keyboard was an awesome media center keyboard, but it’s very long in the tooth at this point – especially the ps/2 interface!

    Everything in this market niche is expensive, probably because the volumes are so low and competition is minimal. I bought a $100 keyboard-with-trackpad combo, and it’s pretty bad. You can’t disable tap-to-click, and it’s so sensitive that it’s not uncommon to click while typing. It’s a laptop sized keyboard, which is nice in some ways.

  3. Stefan Jones says:

    I just got a DiNovo Mini for my MythTV box. Cute as a button. About the size and shape of a squashed burrito.

    The mousepad is a combo pointing device and arrow keypad. In arrow key mode, which is what MythTV uses, it’s a little sensitive. Takes a little learning to figure out just how hard and where to press.

    Only good for rudimentary keyboard input, like letter commands and occasional short commands.

    Also, fragile. Don’t let kids near it.

  4. brettohland says:

    I’m having a hell of a time finding a decent HTPC keyboard. The first one I purchased from Brando Hk was a useless, cheap piece of crap that didn’t even work and I’m worried that the Trust would be more of the same.

    I’d be willing to spend the money for a good quality keyboard/mouse combo like this if they ever get the ergonomics figured out. I’m not sure a trackpad is really the way to go here.

  5. hypatia says:

    I picked up a cheapie RF Logitech which does a good job as a keyboard for my Mac Mini whose sole purpose in life is powering my projector. Had to remap capslock to option though, which is a bit of a pain :)

  6. wrybread says:

    Why on earth would they move keys around to non-standard positions to save space, but still have a numpad?

    They even truncated the frickin spacebar. Sheesh.

    Recipe for a good HTPC keyboard:

    - ditch numpad
    - replace with touchpad
    - row of media keys across top
    - rf wireless
    - backlit keys for extra credit
    - backlit keys in blue LED for even more extra credit

    If they kept all the regular keys in the standard positions (and for the love of god, no half-sized backspace key), it would even be useful for non HTPC use as well.

  7. TJ S says:

    What are they keys over the trackpad for? Anybody read Japanese?

  8. jimkirk says:

    I just screen share from my MacBook Pro to control my Mac Mini home theater computer.

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