Hello there - my name is Matt "Vector" Conwell and today I'd like to give you a quick look at the Mini Thumb Keyboard from AZiO. I've been a hard core computer enthusiast for over a decade and I've built countless computers. I'll give you a quick snapshot of this product to hopefully give you information that will help in your purchasing decisions.
The main TV in our home is completely PC based. We never switch to other sources for video, multimedia, or web browsing. For this reason the Keyboard and mouse become a integral part of day to day functionality. I've used a Logitech diNovo Mini for 4 years now. At $141.99 (Newegg) it is a steep price for many. When AZiO came aboard as a PDXLAN sponsor I took a look at all their products and offerings - and this one caught my eye.
The intended use for something like this is for a media PC. It needs to be able to drive the computer well enough for video playback, simple computer setting changes, and web browsing. The cost of this keyboard is a mere $45.99 (1/3 the cost of the Logitech offering). Let's see what it is included with, and its listed features.
About the Mini Thumb Keyboard (From AZiO's web site)
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.
8 Dedicated Multimedia Keys
Home, Back, Play/Pause, Stop, Forward, Mute, Vol +, Vol -
The Mini Thumb KB Advantage
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.
8 Dedicated Multimedia Hot keys - Home, Back, Play/Pause, Stop, Forward, Mute, Vol+, Vol-.
Plug N Play - No drivers required.
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
Thoughts and impressions:
My wife and I have used this keyboard now for about 6 weeks now. We have both the Logitech diNovo and the AZiO hooked up to the computer so that we may try the keyboards back and forth. What we have found is that we both feel that the AZiO is more intuitive to use. By that I mean that it relies less on holding a function key and then pressing another key like the Logitech one does. The Logitech one at times feels like a game of "finger twister".
Something else we have both enjoyed is the use of the trackball versus the touchpad. With the touchpad if your hands are cold, or slightly wet from washing your hands before dinner - the touchpad is not immediately responsive where the trackball on the AZiO is.
The "fit" with the AZiO seems better than the Logitech one. After typing for a minute I usually get a hand cramp with the Logitech one, where with the AZiO one it seems more natural and spread out.
The final note I noticed was the charge that the AZiO held. Now this could be a factor in age - but I have to charge my Logitech diNovo about every 3 weeks. The Mini-Thumb has gone 6 weeks without recharging.
I really wish the keys were lighted. Not being able to see the keys in the dark (Watching an episode of The Walking Dead or Game of Thrones) has been problematic. I could see a "deluxe" model ($20 more?) that included lighted keys being an awesome feature addition.
The other suggestion I have is to add better range / line of sight. It seems that line of sight breaks easily. With Bluetooth it should not. After reading more about this device I did find that if you have a Bluetooth receiver, you can sync with it. This should help fix the issue.
If you are looking for something that works well and won't break the pocketbook the AZiO Mini Thumb Keyboard is a great choice at $45.99! For that price, nothing compares to it. You can buy it here.
What are YOUR final thoughts? Share them with us here.