Back to 12/96 HW: Flat Connections NovaLAN/Modem 288
Up to Table of Contents
Ahead to 12/96 HW: Agfa SnapScan

December 1996 Reviews This Month

12/96 Reviews HW: Key Tronic Lifetime Wireless Trackball Keyboard

Light Weight Means Happy Hands

By Hailey Lynne McKeefry

My high school typing teacher would disapprove of how my typing posture has deteriorated from ramrod straight to casual sprawl. This happened recently, since I started using the Key Tronic Lifetime Wireless Trackball Keyboard, and I am enjoying it immensely. While the unit allows me a little distance from my desk, it would shine when used for presentations in a large room.

In addition to the keyboard, the Lifetime includes an infrared receiver, AT and serial port adapters, batteries and software. Installation was extremely simple. I plugged the receiver into my PC's keyboard and mouse ports, installed the batteries and rebooted the computer. The unit worked just fine with a standard Microsoft mouse driver, so I chose not to install the included driver software.

Our test unit looked a little different from the traditional keyboard because of the two-button, 35-millimeter trackball at its bottom left side. Otherwise, you'll find a standard 104-key Windows 95 keyboard with a numeric keypad. The Lifetime line also includes keyboards with an integrated touchpad or a standard Windows 95 keyboard without an integrated pointing device.

The Lifetime measures 1.63 by 18 by 9.4 inches and weighs only 3 pounds. The diminutive receiver can be easily tucked next to the monitor. Its five LEDs provide status information, showing whether the number lock, caps lock and scroll lock are enabled, whether the IR is active and if the battery is low.

A switch at the back of the unit lets you choose between two operating modes. The 0- to 4-feet distance setting works well for everyday desktop computing. For presentations or with groups, you can switch to long-distance mode to allow communication with the computer at distances up to 50 feet. In this mode, the keyboard worked from any point in my office, even when it was facing away from the PC.

My one complaint about the Lifetime is really a preference issue. The touch response of the unit is rather "mushy," and I found that I missed the click and resistance of my regular keyboard. If you like little resistance, you'll love the Lifetime.

Wireless capability comes at a slight premium (about $60 more than a traditional keyboard). However, if you do frequent presentations, or are really tired of cords snaking across your desk, it may well be worth the price.

--Info File--
Key Tronic Lifetime Wireless Trackball Keyboard
Pros: Long range
Cons: Tactile response
Platforms:3x, 95
Key Tronic Corp.
800-262-6006, 509-928-8000
WinMag Box Score: 4.0

Back to 12/96 HW: Flat Connections NovaLAN/Modem 288
Up to Table of Contents
Ahead to 12/96 HW: Agfa SnapScan