Today, we take a look at the Cideko keyboard model “Air Keyboard Chatting AK05” – this is a small handheld wireless keyboard is used to control either Mac, Linux or Windows based PCs from a distance.  Not only does it provide keyboard functionality, but the included headphones with built in microphone plug directly in to the unit and allow you to listen and speak.

 

This is what came in my box.

The features

Cideko Air Keyboard Chatting:

  • Standard QWERTY key arrangement
  • Built-In 3D motion sensor mouse
  • Left and right buttons
  • Hot keys for controlling multimedia functions
  • Rechargeable Lithium-ion battery
  • 3.5 microphone and earphone port for chat application

 

Initial impressions:

quarter shows scale

The packaging was nice, not too much wasted material or space.  The keyboard was relatively small, as expected.  See photo for comparison to U.S. quarter.  Having included headphones and USB cable were a nice touch.

After charging until the little green light told me it was done, I plugged it in to my Win 7 64bit multimedia system and it sprang to life.  I tried to use it for a while to get a feel for the device and then I took attached it to some other electronics (PS3, XBOX 360) to see if it would work.

The product packaging indicates it will work on Mac, Windows and Linux – main testing performed on Windows 7 64bit but also plugged it in to PS3 and XBOX 360.  PS3 received the signals while Xbox did not.  Usage of the mouse on the PS3 was very difficult since the mouse moved very rapidly around the screen.  I would get settled on an onscreen option and then try to hit the mouse button but the gyroscope would pick up my movement and take me to a different place on the screen.  I would HAVE to disable the mouse to make it realistic to use on the PS3.

 

Here are the things I really liked –

  • Easy pairing, the dongle and keyboard recognized each other with no issues.  That may seem trivial but it is a core part of the functionality and is necessary for quality
  • The install went smoothly on a Windows 7 machine, a PS3 and a laptop running Vista.  No user intervention was required. Plug and play worked with no issues on any of them
  • Mouse movement was very responsive on the PC and laptop
  • Storage of the Air Dongle on the side of the keyboard was a nice touch, keeps it from getting lost.  Easy to find and use
  • Battery life is acceptable.  Granted, I have not used it a lot but it has not run low.  there are built in power saving features that help keep the charge
  • Used standard USB connectors so, not specialty wires were required
  • You can turn the mouse features off
  • Customization.  The provided driver disk allows you to define custom functions on 5 keys along the top of the keyboard.

I’ll admit that it took a little time to get used to the keyboard.  When trying to type with any speed, I found that my thumbs kept getting lost on the keypad since there were no raised bumps on any of the keys that would allow me to reset my thumbs back to any “home” position.  So when trying to type quickly, I found that I had to keep looking down at the keypad to make sure that I was hitting the right keys.

 

I found that mouse movements were sometimes a little difficult to control.  Since the keyboard sensors are so sensitive, moving your finger to hit the mouse button could move the cursor away from the intended spot on the screen.  This may just be something I would need to work on over time to keep my hands steady when getting ready to click.

I had initially thought that Bluetooth would make this product even better.  Some research turned up this link – showing that in fact they DO offer such a product already.

I’ll admit that I found myself wondering how I could really use it in day to day work/play.  For HTPC use, I can see some value if I am doing a lot of searching (i.e. typing) from the couch.  That way I don’t have to try to key in values using the remote control.  However, if I’m using Skype I don’t really need a smaller keyboard, I’m normally sitting right in front of the computer and normally I’m not really typing but rather I’m speaking to someone using a microphone.  So the keyboard does not add a lot of value there for me personally.  I’m interested to know if anyone uses conferencing differently and would benefit from being able to lean back with a keyboard in hand.  Please share in the comments.

One fun application would be when running a computer as a pseudo DJ station.  Being able to control onscreen activity (selecting other songs, searching for songs) without having to have access to the physical computer keyboard, especially a laptop, could come in very handy and would allow for some flexibility in where you place the computer when you hook it in to the theater system.  I don’t do this every day but it could definitely be used for something like that.

Overall, I thought the product was good quality and performed as advertised.   Other than the issues I had with the typing, everything else worked well and I’d tell any friends or readers that if they’re in the market for a small wireless keyboard with sound and mouse control, they should definitely review Cideko’s Air Keyboard Chatting or one of their other products.