If you divide your work between a laptop and a desktop PC, you probably spend half the time navigating with a mouse and the other half with a trackpad. Why not use the same pointing device with both computers? If you’re the kind of person who prefers the feel of a laptop, the AZiO Bluetooth Multimedia Keyboard may be for you. It’s a compact wireless keyboard with a trackpad built into the handrest.
The keyboard looks attractive out of the box, decked out in a combination of glossy piano-black plastic and black brushed aluminum. Both surfaces started picking up fingerprints almost immediately upon removing the keyboard from its plastic bag, however, marring their looks somewhat. (This seems particularly unfortunate for a keyboard, where the whole point is to put your fingers on it.)
Bluetooth peripherals are great for reducing cable clutter, but the AZiO keyboard doesn’t come with a Bluetooth dongle in the box; you’ll need to have a PC or laptop with Bluetooth built in, or else buy an adapter yourself. You’ll also need a supply of AA batteries since it is not rechargeable, although the keyboard does ship with a pair.
The process of connecting a Bluetooth keyboard to a Windows PC is a little cryptic, and AZiO’s manual could be more descriptive. On the plus side, there are no drivers or special software to install. But once you’re connected, the computer automatically recognizes both the keyboard and the built-in trackpad.
The trackpad isn’t as large as I would like, and its twin mouse buttons feel a little too clicky. It is multi-touch enabled, however, so you can use gestures for commonplace actions, such as dragging with two fingers to scroll a window, or pinching to zoom. You can also enable tapping to replace mouse clicks, just as you can with any laptop’s trackpad.
Although the whole unit is smaller than most keyboards, that’s mainly because it lacks a numeric keypad or separate arrow keys. (Spreadsheet power users, take note.) The keys themselves are full-sized and have a nice feel. The box says the keyboard works with both Windows and Mac OS X, but Windows users can take advantage of the special function keys for use with Windows Media Center.
On the whole, the AZiO keyboard is a nice change of pace from the traditional keyboard-and-mouse setup, although its overall build quality could be a little better. It will particularly appeal to people with limited desk space or who want to run a home theater PC. The AZiO Bluetooth Multimedia Keyboard lists for $79.99.
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