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-- by Hailey Lynne McKeefry
The future is here and it's unique: the Future Keyboard from Acer. Visually striking, this butterfly-shaped ergonomic keyboard with an integrated circular touchpad is comfortable, and using it could become habit-forming.
The space-age keyboard's two large oval wrist pads bring your hands into an ergonomically correct typing position. You can easily control the cursor by moving your forefinger on the touchpad located between the sections of the split keyboard. A detachable numeric keypad, complete with wrist rest, is there for data-entry tasks.
Installation was a breeze. We simply plugged the keyboard and serial mouse connectors into the appropriate ports on the computer.
A keyboard connector adapter is included to ensure a fit on just about any system (although a serial to PS/2 adapter isn't included). A diskette provides the necessary touchpad drivers.
The keyboard may look difficult to use, since you hold your hands at a sharp angle and the enlarged spacebar seems unusual. But it's not difficult at all. We were able to maintain our normal typing speed with the same accuracy almost immediately. Tactile response was moderately stiff, and clicks were too faint for anyone who misses the IBM Selectric.
The Synaptics touchpad is large enough to be useful, and its Edge Motion feature allows you to keep the cursor moving if you reach the edge of the pad.
In addition to the traditional two buttons expected on a pointing device (stationed directly beneath the pad), the Acer Future also has arrow keys encircling the pad that let you quickly move the cursor up, down, left or right.
The Acer Future costs $99-a small price for a comfortable keyboard. It's also easier to use than its closest competitor, the Microsoft Natural Keyboard. The Future's ergonomic design, affordable price and short learning curve put it on our WinList of recommended products.