Keyboards are for more than just typing these days. A few input-device makers are using Expo to show off keyboards that, in addition to taking all the typing your fingers can muster, will also connect your iPod with your Mac.
Mouse-maker Razer’s booth (#2629 for those of you roaming the Expo floor) features a prototype of the company’s Protouch keyboard. Besides the usual assortment of programmable hot keys (10 of ’em, all lighted), media center keys for controlling music playback and the like (also lit), and keys for zooming and putting your computer to sleep, this USB keyboard also sports a universal iPod dock up above the function keys. Razer’s vice president of marketing Mien Tan tells me that the dock will have adapters for fitting everything from an iPod shuffle up to a video-capable iPod. Look for it to ship sometime this spring priced at $100.
Matias’ USB 2.0 Keyboard isn’t new—the company unveiled it at last fall’s Apple Expo in Paris. But Expo is the first opportunity Matias has had to show off the keyboard stateside (which it’s doing in booth #2049). In addition to the $40 keyboard’s two-port USB 2.0 hub on its back, there’s also a single USB 2.0 dock port on the top—ideal for plugging in an iPod shuffle.
While I’m on the subject of Matias, I should mention a product that is making a debut of sorts at Macworld Expo—the HalfKeyboard x2 (pictured right). The HalfKeyboard x2 is basically a full-sized version of Matias’ compact HalfKeyboard, the one-handed keypad that combines assorted alphanumeric characters and keyboard commands on each of its 22 keys. You get all the keys on the HalfKeyboard x2, but you also the alphanumeric keys also double up—on one side of the keyboard for right-handed typists, and on the other side for southpaws—for one handed-typing. It’s ideal for people who want a hand free for using a mouse or holding a phone.
The HalfKeyboard x2 will ship in the next three months for $50—half the price of the $100 HalfKeyboard, which is half its size. Wrap your brain around that.