MacAirkey Wireless Keyboard
Company: Digital Creations of Kansas Inc.
Estimated Price: $119.95
When I first heard about this product, I really liked the idea. A wireless keyboard would allow me to sit back farther from my desk, with the keyboard in my lap. When you do as much writing as I do, you find yourself moving your chair and keyboard for more comfort much more often than normal.
The MacAirkey is an ADB infrared wireless keyboard with a built-in thumb mouse and mouse buttons. What this means is that with this keyboard, you don’t even need your mouse! You do, however, still need your wired keyboard that came with your Macintosh to turn on your Mac, as there is no power key on the MacAirKey. (Note: MacAirkey will only work with an iMac, or USB-equipped Macintosh with an ADB/USB Converter.)
The MacAirKey comes with an adapter and infrared (IR)pickup, both on one cable. You plug the adapter into your keyboard slot, and then plug in your standard keyboard to the adapter. A second cable comes off the adapter and ends with a palm-sized IR pickup.
The MacAirKey is powered by two (2) AA batteries, and weighs a whopping 0.4 poundsvery light! Holding the MacAirKey over my standard Macintosh extended keyboard, its length reaches from the left side of the keyboard to about the F14 key. Because it’s smaller than the standard AppleDesign keyboard means it’s lacking some of the keys you may be used to using. (In my case, I have QuickKeys set up to use some of my higher F-keys, but the MacAirKey only has 12 F-keys.)
First, let’s talk about what I like about the MacAirKey. It’s light. I like the fact that with it in my lap, I don’t have to reach for the mouse thanks to the thumb mouse and buttons. It uses very little power, and the two brand new batteries I bought for the unit are still working strong even after extensive testing. It works well at very close range, though it does take some getting used to. The unit reminds me of the keyboard that you could buy for the now defunct Newton, only about 30% larger.
Now what I don’t like…
The unit does not always pick up what I’m writing. The specifications state that it works up to 30 feet away from its receiver, but I had trouble getting it to work from 2 feet away on three different Macs. On my main computer, it constantly had trouble picking up every tenth word or so. To make sure there was no interference, I also tested it on another Mac in another room, as well as at a relative’s house. The results were the same: a spotty, unreliable infrared pickup. A change of batteries made no difference. An email to MacUnderground for help did not result in any better performance, although their response was swift. Good technical support! I only wish we could have gotten the unit to perform as advertised.
The thumb mouse works, but it seems to react much slower than a standard mouse. It moves painfully slow onscreen. If you push harder on the thumb mouse, it does make the cursor move faster, but it’s not very accurate. The thumb mouse is virtually useless in Photoshop, as the accuracy is simply not there.
The unit works, but not as well as I had hoped. For a price tag over $100, I was expecting much bettera results. The McAirKey is well built and feels very durable and sturdy, and shows very good craftsmanship. That does not, however, make up for the poor performance.
MacMice Rating: 2.5