The Cideko Air Keyboard is a mini keyboard with built-in motion sensing, for use as a media-centre controller.
It might look like a keyboard for a tech-savvy doll's house (an accessory for Call-Centre Barbie, no less) but this tiny wireless keyboard from Cideko is actually designed for human hands.
Rather like the KeySonic ACK-340 RF+ we looked at a few issue back, this Cideko Air Keyboard is designed to make it easier for couch potatoes to control their media-centre PCs. But the Cideko Air Keyboard takes a more adventurous approach to that particular problem.
The Cideko Air Keyboard is in essence both keyboard and mouse: the entire device functions as a sort of airborne mouse, using an accelerometer to move the cursor around in sync with your gestures.
It's a lot like using the Wiimote that comes with the Nintendo Wii console – or, more specifically, the Wiimote when it's plugged into the steering-wheel add-on.
It's an unorthodox strategy, and one that's not without its problems. With a conventional mouse, for one thing, users have the option of lifting the device and recalibrating themselves nearer the centre of the desk.
That isn't possible here, and you sometimes find yourself having to flex your wrist awkwardly to reach the corner of the screen. Put simply, an airborne controller could also be more tiring to use than one that lets you rest your arm on the desk.
The tiny Cideko Air Keyboard can act as both a wireless keyboard and a motion-sensing mouse
But, unusual as it is, we rather like the Cedeko's control method. It's not suitable for normal office work, of course, but it shows some awareness of new PC environments.
Media-centre users don't want a complicated input device; they just want something convenient that allows them to move the cursor, start and stop media playback and type the odd email. And the design of the Cideko reflects that.
Typing on the Cideko Air Keyboard, then, is not this product's strong suit. The keys are extremely small – about the same as those on a BlackBerry, but softer in their rubbery tops, and therefore harder to use with confidence. But the real problem isn't accuracy so much as effort. Even something as brief as this review, for instance, would be exhausting to type out.
Layout-wise, a surprising amount of space on the Cideko Air Keyboard is given over to the hotkeys near the top of the device: play, fast-forward and so on for media players; and shortcuts for email, your web browser and other applications. Useful stuff, although, considering how short of space the keyboard section is, it seems frivolous for the calculator to get a large key all to itself.
In the negative column, we'd have to mention the Cideko Air Keyboard's styling. While the overall build quality is fair – it feels robust enough and the weight's just about perfect – the all-plastic construction, with black textured handgrips and silver 'shoulder' mouse buttons, looks distinctly cheap.
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