Introduction

The cord-cutting trend has made streaming STBs (set-top boxes) and HTPCs (home theater PCs) popular. Remotes are bundled with all OTT (over-the-top) boxes and Android media streamers, and Media Center remotes are common for HTPCs. However, as media consumption becomes more interactive (for example, consumers explicitly searching for a movie to play on Netflix), the use of remotes with limited functionality becomes cumbersome. As an option for interacting with HTPCs, we pay attention to devices which fulfill the following criteria:

  • The device should be wireless and optimally sized (neither the mini- varieties which make typing with large fingers difficult, nor the full-sized combos which come with separate keyboard and mouse units)
  • The device should come with either an integrated touchpad or a trackball
  • Ergonomics and ease of use with a layout as similar as possible to a traditional keyboard while also allowing for short-term single handed operation common in HTPC scenarios
  • Be adaptable for the occasional prolonged typing / computer interaction task with properly sized keys

Some of the other desirable features include prolongation of battery life by going into sleep mode (either automatically, or through an explicit toggle switch), 5 GHz communication frequency (to avoid the crowded 2.4 GHz spectrum) and an integrated rechargeable battery with a charging dock. It would also be nice to have ease of use with Windows 8.x (in terms of replicating touchscreen functionality on a touchpad). Obviously, features have to be traded off to hit an acceptable price point. So, the options we want to look at might not hit any of the desirable features too.

The Logitech K400 is one of the most popular HTPC keyboards. Frequently available for less than $30, its feature-to-price ratio is simply unparalleled. Unfortunately, the keyboard does have a few drawbacks with respect to ergonomics and key placement, making it challenging to use it for extended typing duties. With a better budget, would it be possible to improve the HTPC interaction experience? That is what we hope to answer with our 'Interacting with HTPCs' series. Our first review in that category was our extended look at the options from IOGEAR and SIIG earlier this year.

In today's piece, we will be looking at the various interaction options from Adesso, with MSRPs ranging from $30 - $75:

In addition to the above five models, Adesso also sent us the SlimTouch WKB-4210UB. However, the sample had some issues with a stuck touchpad button and we will not cover that in this review. In addition, the batteries supplied with a couple of the samples were dead, but that doesn't have any bearing on the aspects that we will cover in the rest of the review.

We will first take a look at the features offered by each of these keyboards in detail along with some usage impressions. This will be followed by the comparison of the pros and cons of each of these units on a single page. Note that most of the aspects presented in keyboard reviews are subjective and dependent on test environment. For example, even the wireless range may vary from one test location to another because the 2.4 GHz channel being used might exhibit interference issues under certain conditions. This could result in improper functioning and range issues. While one unit relies on Bluetooth for communication, the other four are RF-based and operate in the 2.4 GHz band with an advertised range of 30 ft (under ideal conditions). We will not be covering the range factor any further in this review.

Adesso SlimTouch WKB-3000
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  • Keisari - Thursday, October 23, 2014 - link

    Sorry but I'm into trackpoints. A wireless Thinkpad keyboard like the current one would be perfect... if only it didn't have island keys. Reply
  • ruthan - Wednesday, October 22, 2014 - link

    Without back light, im not interested. Reply
  • Imaginer - Wednesday, October 22, 2014 - link

    Hence I used a K800, with back lighting, that is separate from the M570 I used. With bundles, one has to stick with whatever is bundled out of the offering, which bundled pointer drag and keyboard options in one device may not be desirable. Reply
  • Gunbuster - Wednesday, October 22, 2014 - link

    So the Lenovo N5902 Enhanced Multimedia Remote is too small to play in this shootout? Reply
  • EmperorDeslok - Wednesday, October 22, 2014 - link

    I don't know, i'm curious who makes it for lenovo because it is an awesome little remote i had the older model(with trackball) and just replaced it with the optical one recently Reply
  • icrf - Wednesday, October 22, 2014 - link

    All of these are much, much larger than I'm interested in for HTPC use. I'm currently using a Logitech Dinovo Mini, which is 6.0" x 3.5". I'm obviously not writing an essay on the thing, but it's plenty to type out the name of a movie or actor, and it doesn't take up much space on the coffee table.
    http://www.amazon.com/dp/B008JGU3YA/

    If I had to pick one, though, it would definitely be the WKB-3000. I had an old IR keyboard with a large track point style pointer input instead of a track ball, but the pointer top right and buttons top left is an incredibly comfortable way to use the device. It's far more comfortable than rotating the wrist and poking at a touch pad. I think so many people use laptops daily that they've gotten used to touch pads they're infiltrating everything else.
    Reply
  • cjs150 - Wednesday, October 22, 2014 - link

    Best option for me is the Dinovo. A cheaper version is Rii Mini 2.4GHz Wireless Touchpad Keyboard. I use any even cheaper version (bought about 6 years ago from Maplin UK) which has a thumb trackball rather than touchpad with mouse buttons being where you would expect firing buttons on an XBox or pS4 controller - it is about the same size as an Xbox controller. For HTPC use it is a great design (easy to use one handed) - sadly the build quality is poor and the keyboard needs better key rollover function. Reply
  • icrf - Wednesday, October 22, 2014 - link

    I've got a Rii, too, and that isn't anywhere near as reliable or nice as the Dinovo. Definitely cheaper, though. Reply
  • Gigaplex - Wednesday, October 22, 2014 - link

    I considered one of those but went with the full blown diNovo Edge as I tend to dual purpose it as a regular keyboard on occasion. Reply
  • JeffFlanagan - Wednesday, October 22, 2014 - link

    I think the requirement that the mouse should be built into the keyboard is misguided. I've had a home theater for over a decade now, and would find it extremely annoying to have to use a bulky keyboard all the time instead of simply using a mouse to select videos and music. I use a keyboard less than 5% of the time, so why tie the mouse to a keyboard? Reply

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