Feb 28 2009
The TuneBoard is a great example of a problem that was waiting to be solved – and its solution. Desktops the world over are cramped. While monitors do get slimmer, external hard drives, speakers and cradles for handheld gadgets have made themselves at home on your desk.
The problem compounds when you need to find a place to plug in your ‘clutter free’ wireless mouse or keyboard’s base station and all the other extras you’ve accumulated.
The gift the TuneBoard brings is in its consolidation of speakers and keyboard. It does have other features I’ll mention as we go, but that is the defining feature of this product.
It does also help reduce clutter at your power adapter – by drawing power from USB which is its only cord. And I actually found the wired nature of the keyboard appealing – no batteries orreceiversto mess with. And after using wireless keyboards for years I’ve never really been sold on them. I’ve never had any use for the wireless-ness unless I was using a home theater Mac.
Because it is made for the Mac, you don’t have to remap any keys, though it would have been nice to have the same Apple/cloverleaf instead of the word “command.” The Mac-ness of the keyboard extends into the extra controls as well. In addition to the music control buttons we’ll talk about in a minute, there are previous/pause/next track buttons and an eject.
And now for the ‘tunes. I was surprised how few speaker-keyboard combos there are out there. The small speakers are not intended to satisfy more tan a couple sets of ears, but with that expectation they sound very good. For a workstation/desk area they are more than adequate. The base-boost is more like a normal use setting. Without it, the sounds suffers.
And the sound itself? Don’t expect the deep richness of a home audio system. The speakers are clear with a nice presence to them, though for obvious reasons it is not comparable to anything larger than a small boom-box. I must stress, for jamming while working at the computer, this system more an fits the bill. It also hits well beyond the mark for watching Hulu or YouTube videos.
And there’s backlight. I actually would have traded this feature if it would have slimmed the thing down bit, but it is cool. I’m not sure what you’re doing using the computer in the dark, but whatever it is, you’ll be able to see the keys.
The trade-offs? I already mentioned the size – it is a little wider (maybe an inch on either side) than the full-sized key layout requires. It is also deeper (toaccommodatethe speakers). They styling is subject to taste. I didn’t love it, but that’s why we share pictures. It is also not achickletkeyboard – for which I was grateful. I appreciated the depth of the action and the ergonomics of the keys which provide nice smooth feedback. The other drawback is the price – it is the most expensive wired keyboard I’ve looked at for a while.
There is a perfect buyer for this keyboard. The TuneBoard is the Mac mini’s best friend. The keyboard will deliver you from the terrible mono speaker on the mini while cutting the clutter. I expect tower owners will feel the same. PowerBook and iMac owners would see more volume out of these speakers, but may not see the urgency since they already have an okay audio experience.
I really liked the TuneBoard, It spent most of its time connected to my mini, because I don’t really ‘dock’ my PowerBook anywhere. The sound quality exceeded my expectation for their size and I really appreciated the clutter reduction.
Pick it up at Amazon for about $80.