Zboard Base and Internet Explorer Interface Review

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Company: Ideazon
Platform: PC

The Zboard is a modular keyboard system from Ideazon designed so that computer users can have a single keyboard base attached to the computer, but can insert interchangeable keyboard interfaces that are customized to improve productivity for work software or to improve the game experience for entertainment software. The interfaces clearly mark many of the important hotkeys for the associated application, and typically have an array of macro keys customized for functions associated with that application.

Kyle Ackerman

While you can purchase Zboard Base alone, if you purchase the Zboard system you will want to get the package of Zboard Base and Internet Explorer Interface. The Internet Explorer Interface will serve as your usual keyboard when another interface isn't in use. Installing the Zboard is simple – the Zboard software runs in the background, taking up only a small amount of memory, and the keyboard simply plugs in as any other keyboard would.

The Zboard base is about the same size as a typical computer keyboard, and features the ergonomic adjustments you can expect from a keyboard, including extendable legs and clip-on wrist support. The folks at Ideazon promote the Zboard as having 240 I/O leads, as opposed to the more typical 128, noting that this should prevent the loss of keystrokes when multiple keys are hit close together or at the same time. Certainly, even while typing very quickly or playing games requiring many simultaneous keystrokes, no keystrokes are lost. The Zboard base itself also has a variety of buttons that are available regardless of which interchangeable interface is in use. At the back of the base, on the left are seven media player controls (play, stop, volume and so forth). On the right are ten buttons. The last one calls up the Zboard interface, allowing you to download updates easily or reconfigure the other nine hotkeys. The other nine hotkeys can be configured to automatically open programs, web sites, directories or documents, and are set by default to applications or sites such as the media player, calculator and Google, for internet searches.

The interchangeable keyboard interfaces slip into the Zboard base, unfolds across the base, and clips onto the right side so that the interface locks securely to the base. Because the keyboard insert folds into thirds for convenient storage, there is a break in the space bar – effectively the keyboard has two smaller space bars. This is a feature found in some single-unit keyboards, and allows for typing with slightly less effort if you have an exacting typing technique. Users with more ad-hoc typing skills may find that they strike the space bar across the break, sometimes resulting in multiple key presses. This is a habit that can be corrected, but may be disconcerting at first.

The Microsoft Windows and Internet Explorer interface is designed to improve your daily computing experience. At first, the interface seems like a gimmicky version of a conventional keyboard, but with many of the common hotkeys marked clearly on the keys. (For example, the "V" key is clearly marked as the paste function, when used with the "Ctrl" key). After brief use, you begin to understand that the interface does much more. The function bar (F1 – F12) can be toggled to serve as the buttons you see at the top of the Internet Explorer window, giving you rapid, keystroke access to buttons such as refresh, or the favorites toggle. The numerical keyboard can also be toggled to serve as macro keys that will open or close windows and call up common system functions or programs. At worst, the Microsoft Windows and Internet Explorer interface is as good as a conventional keyboard. After a brief adjustment, it should make system functions and web surfing easier and faster. Still, this interface is hardly reason alone to purchase the Zboard system. The meat of this hardware is in the application specific interfaces.

If you plan on heavily using any two of the applications supported by individual Zboard interfaces, you will find that the custom keyboard interface inserts will improve your experience.

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This page contains a single entry by Editor published on July 1, 2003 8:23 AM.

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