Today I have the KeySonic ACK-540RF which is the abbreviated way of saying wireless keyboard and mouse. Small in size and wireless in nature, the 540RF should make for interesting testing.
Wireless mini-keyboard with built-in touchpad and 2 mouse-analogous function keys. Powerful and reliable radio-frequency transmission at 2.4 GHz. Enjoy free and independent choice of site up to approx. 10m away from the PC when operating this keyboard! Extremely flat construction with built-in hand cushion for non-fatiguing work .Full functionality of a standard layout keyboard due to built- in numeric keypad and 12 function keys.
- Key count: 88–89 (depending on locale)
- Construction: “X-Type” membrane technology
- Expected lifetime: 5 million strokes per key
- Actuation: 3.0 ± 0.3 mm total track
- Pressure point: 70 ± 10 gm
- Transmission frequency: 2.4 GHz
- Device recognition: 256 ID
- Effective distance: 7 m
- Battery type: 4 × AAA 1.5 V
- Temperature: –5 °C up to +50 °C (+23 °F up to +122 °F; operating)
The 540 is packaged in a colourful box, with the main picture depicting the keyboard in all its glory. The rear of the box lists the features of the keyboard in six different languages implying this products destiny for world marketing.
Inside you find the keyboard itself complete with a built in touchpad, a short manual, 4 Energiser AAA batteries and the wireless receiver. The keyboard takes the four batteries in the underside of the unit.
The manual is multi-lingual and is short and to the point. It explains how to pair the keyboard and your computer, changing batteries and that a ‘state-of-the-art’ operating system will be able to use the 540RF.
The keyboard is small by design and hence the numberpad has been missed of the end. However, if you really need to use the number pad then you can press the ‘Fn’ button in the bottom left of the board and click ‘Insert’. This activates the numberpad keys which are labelled in blue type.
Below the keyboard is the touchpad. It’s large which is great news for anyone with larger fingers. It also has a built in scroll strip which allows you to use the pad like a scroll wheel on your standard mouse. There are two large buttons beneath which correspond to left and right click.
The keyboard has a black strip that seems to imply that the unit uses infra red to communicate with your PC, however, it uses a Bluetooth type connection and you receive a USB dongle which talks to the 540RF. It would have been nice if the board used actual Bluetooth to free up a USB port if you already have a dongle. However, this would have made matching your PC and the 540 more difficult and a higher price due to the Bluetooth licensing.
On the dongle itself you find a small indent which hides the ‘SW’ button which if used when you want to connect the 540 and your PC together. Once pressed, you have 15 seconds to press ‘Fn’ on the keyboard itself which will pair the two together.
The 540RF is a good weight and firm construction which allows it to be thrown around to a certain degree, and can put up with the rigors of continuous office use. As the unit is so compact, KeySonic have decided to use laptop style keys which are the standard size, apart from the top row of ‘Esc’ and function keys. The direction keys have also been shrunk, and so have the bottom line which are the standard height but narrower.
There are no LEDs on the board, not even any to tell you whether it’s turned on and working. The Caps lock and other lock LEDs are missing meaning that you have to refer to your text output to see whether they are turned on or not. It would have been nice if the keyboard had drivers with the dongle allowing you to see the status on screen of these locks, but I’m sure there is a free program out there that can do this.
On the underside of the unit, you find the battery compartment, the usual flip-up stands that allow you to change the angle the keyboard is at, and four rubber studs that do a reasonable job of keeping the 540RF in one place.
The dongle itself requires no drivers to install on Windows XP (I can’t speak for 98 or Vista but the manual says yes as long as you have USB keyboard BIOS support) and after a couple of seconds its ready to be used.
I didn’t have to pair up the device, it simply worked with was a bonus, because pressing the ‘SW’ button is so indented it requires a pointed object or midget fingers to press. The button soon ended up with Biro all over it…
To test the keyboard, I decided I would write this review on it, literally 2 cm away from my laptop… I did a quick test of the range, and the quoted figure of 10m seems about right.
The first thing that I noticed was that the touchpad doesn’t get turned off while typing which means every now and again the cursor will jump back a couple of lines as I accidentally hit the pad. This is another reason why there should be a small driver distributed with the keyboard.
Another thing that I noticed was that as the function button is in the extreme bottom left of the board, you can end up pressing it accidentally instead of Ctrl. This means that using shortcuts such as bold (Ctrl + B) end up with your text turning to a lowercase b instead of thicker type. If the ‘Fn’ button was moved one key left (swapping with Ctrl) there would be no problem and I’m sure other people will find this annoying.
Using the touchpad was just like a normal laptop but the scroll strip began to get a little annoying. As there is nothing that differentiates the strip from the touchpad itself, you can find yourself straying into the scroll part and flying down the page you’re looking at. After a short learning curve this no longer becomes a problem.
The keys are nice and responsive and aren’t too hard or soft, and make a nice muffled click sound when pressed. The keyboard doesn’t feel cramped as long as you’re not looking for a special character like ‘\’ or ‘#’ which are placed in odd positions.
While I thought that the lack of the numberpad would be annoying, I’m yet to miss it. The keyboard has all of the most used keys on it, including the Windows key and context menu key. The media enthusiast will miss the media buttons that are almost standard on keyboards these days.
In a test that I’d rather not have ‘carried out’, I managed to spill a full glass of water (25cl of the finest spring H20) onto the keyboard. Instantly it stopped working. This is where the on/off or transmitting LED would have been useful, but after giving the 540RF a day to dry out, it worked fine.
It was nice to see that branded (Energiser) batteries were provided, so KeySonic aren’t trying to cut costs with sub-par batteries. Using the fact that the keyboard uses 7mA max and 5mA in standby (ready to type, just not sending data) and 150 μA in sleep mode (essentially off), and the Energizer batteries pump 1250 mAh, then the keyboard should last just over 200 hours of continuous typing. Given that most use their keyboard for ~5 hours a day, the 540RF should last for about 40 days. A new battery costs £0.43, so a new set will be £1.75 meaning yearly this keyboard will cost you ~£20, unless you decide for rechargeable batteries. Maths lesson over.
The best use for this keyboard has to be presentations. As the 540 is small, it can easily fit into your laptop bag you can use it to fully control your laptop from a distance.
The KeySonic 540RF wireless keyboard is great for HTCP owners, or anyone’s desk that isn’t solely used for computing. The ability to just store the keyboard out of the way when not in use is perfect for the space conscious user or in an environment where the PC box is hidden.
A great typer and integrated touchpad are nice to see (not to mention water proof), but the little issues like the lack of status LEDs and oddly placed ‘Fn’ button bring the overall mark down.
|Compact design||No status LEDs|
|Great to type on||Oddly placed Fn button|
|Integrated touchpad||Battery cost|
I’d like to thank Nanopoint for providing us with the keyboard.
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