Feb 4 2006
I-ROCKS i-mini EL X-Slim (KR-6810M) illuminated keyboard
The I-ROCKS i-mini EL X-Slim (KR-6810M) illuminated keyboard is a portable size USB keyboard that, as the name suggests, lights up. It is just one item in a line of similarly designed items offered by I-ROCKS. The keyboard is currently available online from MacMall (USD$59.99) and ZipZoomFly (USD$56.99).
Addressing the features claimed on the I-ROCK USA web site, I’ll tell you a bit about the keys of the keyboard itself. The keys use the same scissor mechanism (x-structure) found in many laptop computers which means that they are quiet, as claimed, but not for those that desire the tactile feedback of an Alps Keyswitch or similar keyboard mechanism. This is what you give up for portability and illumination.
The “ergonomic contour” mentioned on the site is simply the slim design and the miniscule distance one must depress a key in order for it to register as having been tapped. I don’t know about you, but when I hear “ergonomic contour”, I think of those goofy looking, curvy keyboards that were all the rage in the 90s and were supposed to prevent repetitive stress disorders like carpal tunnel syndrome. The KR-6810M is not curvy at all. It’s about as flat as they come; only having about a quarter inch height difference from front to back. It does have collapsible risers that can set it on a nice angle for typing.
The illumination is brought to life via and nice little button in the top right corner of the keyboard. Click the button down and “weeee” the lights turn on and the keyboard glows with a very cool blue radiance. Now, I say “weeee” because that is the sound the keyboard makes when you use the illumination. Yeah, the keys of the keyboard maybe silent, but the lights make a slight noise. But if you like the lights, you won’t mind the subtle noise. My hunch is, anyone who is in the market for a light-up keyboard is going to also have some kick-ass speakers and, if he ever hears the whine of the lights at all, he will likely mistake them for a ringing in his ears from playing his tunes too loudly.
I’m pretty much on board with this keyboard except for one nagging detail and since the i-mini EL X-Slim is not about typing in a traditional sense, I really can’t make this point out to be much more than a personal beef. It’s a really nice little keyboard. My only problem with it is its non-standard layout. Taking my PowerBook as an example, down the right side of they keyboard I have the Eject key, Delete, , Return, Shift and then the Right Arrow key. On the i-mini EL X-Slim, you have the page navigation buttons: Del, Home, Page Up, Page Down, End and then the Right Arrow key. It’s perhaps a nitpicky detail, but when I type on this keyboard and instinctively tap the rightmost key on the fourth row thinking that I’m hitting Return, it can be quite annoying to have the screen “Page Down” on me. I’m sure it wouldn’t take long to get used to the layout if I made this my workstation keyboard.
I should clarify what I meant when I said that this keyboard isn’t about typing in the traditional sense. I’m really not sure who needs an illuminated keyboard, but I’m thinking it wouldn’t be a touch typist–those people can type blindfolded. No, illuminated keyboards are for something else …I’m not sure what, but not that. If you work in the dark and can’t touch type, I would imagine you’d opt for one of those little USB gooseneck lights and sacrifice a bit on your workspace’s look to be able to see the keys (who cares what your desk looks like if it’s dark anyway?) This keyboard is about esthetics and it does look nice. It has nice chrome details bordering its edge and it is no bigger than it need be, so portable it is. If you’re in the market for a light weight, illuminated keyboard, you can’t go far wrong with the I-ROCKS i-mini EL X-Slim.