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Dell SK-8135 Multimedia USB Hub

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      16.01.2013 16:38
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      Advantages

      • Reliability

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      Perfect for everyday use

      I use computers on a daily basis and have a nice neat Dell desktop package in my office at work. This Dell SK-8135 keyboard was provided by our IT department as a replacement for the previous one which was part of my original package, due to an unfortunate incident of death by cup-a-soup. Embarrassing. Luckily, I ended up with what I feel is a far superior product and I like this keyboard so much that I tried looking for the same one to purchase for use with my home computer. I've not had much joy so far and could only find it available on via www.amazon.com.

      This keyboard has what I consider to be quite an old-fashioned design to it. It is rather large and bulky, but with a few little features to make it look more attractive such as the curved edges around the buttons at the top and bottom, and silver coloured trim. It plugs into the computer by means of a USB connection, and has a generously long cable that allows you to position the keyboard in a suitable location. This is good for me as my computer is actually stored underneath my desk, and the cable then feeds through a slot at the back of my desk surface to allow it to plug in. There is still plenty of excess cable to allow room for movement and I can adjust it as necessary. As is standard with most keyboards, there are two little "legs" on the underside of the keyboard which can either be left tucked in to allow you to use the keyboard flat against the surface of your desk, or you can extend them so that the keyboard is positioned at a slightly raised angle. I find it more comfortable to use this keyboard with the back section raised as it means I can hold my wrists out straight and type away with ease. The lower edge of the keyboard has a curve to it where the space bar extends, so I'm not sure it would work well if you needed some sort of wrist rest attachment to aid with your positioning.

      The keys are large and quite raised in comparison to more modern styles of keyboard which tend to feature flatter keys. To make the keys activate I have to press them in quite deeply and this makes a clacking noise as I type away. Some people (in fact, probably most of my co-workers!) would find this annoying, but I LOVE the noise of clicking keyboard keys as I type. A lot of the time I will not look at the keyboard as I type, and so the sound reassures me that my fingers have hit the target and it allows me to build up a good pace once I get into a rhythm with my typing, also I can focus on the screen to check my spelling and formatting which makes the whole job of writing a lot quicker. The keyboard features a traditional QWERTY layout so it's perfectly simple to use if you're accustomed to this layout. There is a very useful light-up display panel which notifies you if the Num Lock / Caps Lock / Scroll Lock buttons have been selected. The action keys are located at the sides of the character keys in the usual places, and as well as a row of number keys across the top of the letter, there is also a separate number section on the far right of the keyboard, which comes in very handy for entering long strings of numbers. My only dislike about this number pad is that the layout for keyboards seems to be set out in reverse placement to the number pads you get on telephones, so if I'm switching between using my keyboard and using the phone then I can often start typing in the completely wrong numbers by mistake.

      An extra feature that this keyboard offers is a selection of additional functionality buttons. There is an interactive media panel at the top right corner and the buttons for this are silver coloured so that they stand out against the black background. You can play, pause, forward, stop etc as well as control the level of volume or mute entirely. This can be quicker and easier than having to locate the correct section of the control panel on the screen and adjust these functions using the mouse. One of my favourite things are the program buttons. At the very top edge of the keyboard there are two sets of small, circular buttons with little icons on. The set of buttons to the left controls internet browsing, and you can go back, forward, stop loading, refresh loading, or directly to the homepage. I really like that these are so simple and direct, and they can make navigating through different webpages even easier. The set of buttons to the right controls a variety of things, including direct links to email, computer folders, and the calculator. It might sound ridiculous but the calculator button is one of my very favourite things about this keyboard! Instead of having to click through the menu to find the calculator program, all I need to do is hit the button on my keyboard and straight away the calculator opens up ready for me to use without delay. This is hugely useful for when I need to calculate invoice amounts, and the ease and speed of access is vital when I'm taking queries over the phone.

      As if this wasn't enough, the keyboard also includes 2 USB slots at the back. This can come in handy if you have a lot of attachments that need plugging in, and it gives me double the amount of USB ports as my PC has two as well. I find these USB slots useful for things such as plugging in my smart phone and MP3 player to get them charged up while I'm using the computer. It can also come in handy if I want to plug in other appliances and keep them up on my desk space rather than having to dump them on the floor underneath my desk to reach the USB ports on my PC, meaning I have easy access to them and avoid any potential health and safety hazards!

      The keyboard is made of black plastic with black coloured keys, and the symbols are all marked out in white. I've had this particular keyboard for over 2 years now, and although it works perfectly without any problems whatsoever, it has of course suffered some cosmetic damage. The majority of the markings on the keys are worn and some have disappeared completely. I have really long fingernails and tend to type with the tips of my nails instead of using my fingers, so I don't know if this daily battering has helped to accelerate the wearing, but it's lucky that I know the keyboard layout off by heart otherwise I'd be a bit stuck as there are now a total of 11 keys that are completely illegible. This isn't really an issue for me personally, and I think this is a common issue with keyboards in general. Because the keys are so chunky they do have the added problem of being a magnet for dirt. I can where see bits of staining, mucky marks and dust have all built up down in-between the keys, but there is no real way to get it clean, and try as I might my cleaning attempts only seem to work on the surface of the keys, not where it's needed in the gaps. Our IT department's solution to this was to offer me a new keyboard, as apparently it's cheaper than getting it serviced and cleaned professionally! I declined the offer as I am unnaturally attached to this particular keyboard design and feel that its ease of use really suits my style of typing and has a positive impact on completing my daily workload.

      Overall I can definitely recommend this Dell SK-8135 keyboard. It offers everything I want from a keyboard and the design really suits the way that I type, as well as allowing me access to a range of extra features that come in useful on a daily basis.

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