SIIG JK-WR0412-S1 - Features & Usage Impressions

The SIIG JK-WR0412-S1 is a wireless mini multimedia trackball keyboard. Using 2x AA batteries, it operates in the 2.4 GHz range and has an advertised range of 33 ft. The trackball is on the top right. In truly ergonomic fashion, there is a left click button on the top side of the frame which makes it easy to move the trackball and perform a left click operation simultaneously with a single hand. For the 'typical' living room scenario usage with both hands, there are left and right click buttons on the top left (similar to the IOGEAR keyboard covered in the previous section). However, unlike the IOGEAR keyboard, the scroll wheel is not on the top panel, but on top side of the frame (on the left side, right above the two mouse buttons).

The trackball resolution is set to 800 dpi and is not configurable.  The 2.4 GHz spectrum is pretty crowded, and, in order to prevent interference, the unit is capable of frequency hopping (with operation in 1 of 80 distinct channels). The unit has rubber soles for slip resistance. Unlike the IOGEAR unit, there is no explicit power switch (which is a drawback if you have a toddler active in your living room). However, for power saving purposes, the keyboard enters a sleep state after 8 minutes of inactivity. Only a keypress or mouse button click can bring it out of the sleep state. This is a bit frustrating in living room scenarios, where users tend to move the trackball first. The trackball itself is flimsier than the one on the IOGEAR unit. They main keys are also smaller than the standard size that we encountered on the other units. This might make fast typing difficult for those used to standard keyboards, though that is probably not the primary use case for this keyboard.

In terms of keyboard layout, the Fn key and Ctrl key on the bottom left are switched from the usual, which may result in the user inadvertently mistyping key combinations. Another unfortunate aspect of the keyboard layout is the fact that a numeric keypad is embedded in the main keypad, and it is controlled by the NumLock key. Most computers boot with the NumLock key turned on, resulting in the users typing in numbers instead of the intended letters. In case of passwords, the user might not even realize the mistake. It would be nice to have an indicator on the device for this purpose. That said, PCs usually have a BIOS setting to turn off this feature. The problem turned out to be bad enough for SIIG to issue an addendum [PDF] to the user manual [PDF].

The trackball has a red glow underneath when the unit is in the active state. This provides an easy way to identify whether a keypress or mouse click needs to be made, but might also be disconcerting in a dark room (a frequent HTPC usage scenario). The ergonomics and intuitiveness of the keyboard and the mouse buttons / scroll wheel layout, as well as the larger number of special keys, are the positives for the device.

IOGEAR GKM561R - Features & Usage Impressions SIIG JK-WR0312-S1 - Features & Usage Impressions
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  • username609 - Tuesday, March 4, 2014 - link

    I had the IOGEAR keyboard for a couple years. The biggest problem was the mechanical trackball attracting and retaining dirt. The keyboard had to be disassembled every so often and the inner wheels cleaned in order to keep it functioning. I finally replaced the board with a K400 when the keys began to delaminate.

    One definite advantage to the IOGEAR: all of the Media Center buttons work out of the box. There's a lot of functionality that has to be programmed into the K400 in order to get it to the same level of user-friendliness.
  • zyk - Sunday, March 2, 2014 - link

    The fact that you have to use keyboard combinations or SetPoint software to access F1-F12 keys keeps me away from most of Logitech's new portable keyboards. I would imagine this is a determining factor for many users and functionality caveats like this ought to be in the comparison chart.
  • Kobaljov - Sunday, March 2, 2014 - link

    Another interesting smaller option can be the Sony Android TV's remote controller with full qwerty keyboard, but unfortunately it had compatibility issues on other OSes
  • Penti - Monday, March 3, 2014 - link

    Do Motorola/Arris still sell their RF-based qwerty remote/keyboard (NYXboard) any more? Pulse-eight discontinued theirs/it. To bad as I have yet to see a replacement.

    Lot's of smaller options around though.
  • andy o - Sunday, March 2, 2014 - link

    I'm using the Rapoo Blade E9180P, after using the Logitech K400 (first edition) frustratingly for years. I'm happy overall. It operates on 5GHz, and has the same kind of "nano" USB dongle that Logitech has. Only gripes: can't triple-click, and the mouse acceleration is not very customizable (basically only the Windows on/off option).

    Pros: can actually DO gestures, even middle click with 3 fingers and pinch to zoom, not like the Logitech K400 which its first edition was multitouch but for some reason Logitech never enabled any other gesture than two finger scroll. Also, full size keys, not reduced like the K400, and shorter but just a bit longer.
  • inkz - Sunday, March 2, 2014 - link

    Ganesh, thank you for the keyboard reviews.
    Would you please identify any idiosyncrasies in the HTPC keyboards reviewed, such as behaviour when falling out of range, battery drain, sync issues, BIOS usage. Some examples I have experienced:
    Old keyboard that looked like Grandtec KEY-3000 - would drain rechargeable batteries monthly, following each battery change - required resync
    SIIG JK-WR0412-S1 clone - whenever the link dropped, the last key press would become stickyyyyyyyy
    MC-7126 from dx - trackball would intermittently drop out, receiver fails on exiting S3 mode
    Logitech K400 - trackpad fails when a damp finger is used (overly sensitive to water droplets)
    Rapoo E2700 - trackpad sensitivity set ridiculously low (problematic when you connect multiple keyboards without keyboard profile support), and trackpad cannot wake from sleep

    One or two of them also didn't work in BIOS, don't remember which.

    I look forward to more HTPC keyboard/trackball reviews & other readers' recommendations. I still haven't found a perfect keyboard (the SIIG JK-WR0412-S1 clone I had would come close, except for the poor behaviour during dropouttttttts).
  • alphaod - Sunday, March 2, 2014 - link

    I use the Logitech KT820.

    It's got good tactile feedback and the trackpad is buttonless. It also looks sleaker than the K400. The only issue is on OS X (connected to my Mac mini), it doesn't support multitouch gestures like three finger swipe and whatnot.

    And it's pricier at $80, but I think it's worth it.
  • meacupla - Sunday, March 2, 2014 - link

    It's not in the same price range at all, if purpose bought, but it would be nice to see the alternatives.
    Wii-mote, PS3 BD remote, nexus 7 or a spare smartphone which have support in remote controlling windows, XBMC remote, powerdvd remote, etc.
  • cjs150 - Monday, March 3, 2014 - link

    Maplin used to do a combined keyboard and trackball that was the size of an Xbox controller. The build quality was a bit dubious, it tends to take a while to wake up but for sofa surfing it is ideal. From memory the cost was about £15 or $22.

    If someone could remake but with better build quality that would be an absolute winner - typing was easy on it as long as it was limited to web addresses, short emails and similar
  • nos024 - Monday, March 3, 2014 - link

    I'm using my tablet + PowerDVD 13 Ultra and it works great.

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