|EluminX Illuminated Keyboard|
October 8, 2003 | Scott Turner
State of the KeyboardWhat can we say about the input device, ubiquitous with computers and their use worldwide? Back in the olden days of DOS and input prompts, no one could get enough of Mr. Keyboard. It wasn't until Xerox and the show-stealing mouse brought their flash and flair to the computing world. Optical tracking, scroll wheels, and buttons covering the device all eventually evolved from a relatively simple device. The keyboard, on the other hand, has not changed much since it was first introduced. Some have made the ergonomic split-key keyboard for more comfortable typing. Others, such as Apple's new Bluetooth-enabled keyboard eliminate the mess of cables snaking from the keyboard to the computer. However, there has been little innovation to distinguish one keyboard from the pack of choices.
AuraVision, with the aid of translucent plastics and backlighting, however, seeks to do just that.
Plug and Play*When I first unwrapped the EluminX keyboard from the cardboard packaging and bubble wrap, I was eager to get the keyboard plugged in and going, as keyboards tend to be some of the easiest computing devices to set up. Upon reading the manual and further inspection of the keyboard, I was disappointed to find that the EluminX keyboard is not a USB-native device. Instead, it comes with a PS/2 connector, a standard on PCs. Unfortunately, no PS/2-USB adapter is included in the box.
After a quick trip to Radio Shack and with one brand new PS/2-USB converter in hand, I eagerly plugged the keyboard into my Mac, only to realize another problem. The keyboard has the standard Windows keyboard layout, with Alt, the Windows key, and other keys exclusively applicable to Windows. To convert them to their Mac equivalents such as 'Command,' I'd have to find a third-party program to do the task. I ended up using uControl, an I/O modifying program that can do an assortment of tasks. After a relatively painless installation and setup, I had my Windows key bound to command at startup.
AuraVision claims to be working on a USB keyboard that will be compatible with the Mac and will eliminate these two steps. However, for the time being, this was not the best foot to start off on.
Let there be light!On its website, Auravision describes the keyboard's original purpose as being "in rugged laptops developed for military use, where computing efficiency at nighttime or low-lit environments is crucial for survival." Transferred to its consumer keyboards, this feature is a very inconspicuous backlit glow that activates whenever the computer is turned on and not in sleep mode or left idle for a prolonged period. With office or even dim room lights on, the illumination could be mistaken for very bright white plastic behind the clear translucent keys. When covered with the shadows of your hands from typing, along with the black plastic base color of the rim of the keyboard on my model, the illumination sometimes stands out a bit.
It's when the lights go off that you notice how bright the keyboard is. In competition only with the light of my monitor, the incandescent blue glow casts light up and through the keys, so the light is not "bright," but glows with enough intensity so that the black lettering on the keys appears relatively clearly. A fairly useful feature for hunt-and-peck typers, the illumination was more of an afterthought to an experienced typist like myself. While not distracting, during lights-out in the room gaming, the glow did not really offer any real gaming advantage.