Product Type: Toshiba keyboards
Newest Review: ... tag, so I saw this on Ebay for £35 and bought it. With it being manufactured by 'Toshiba' I expected it to be the same quality as their lap... more
First Attempt to Take A 'Back Seat' Falls At First Fence
Member Name: Nibelung
Advantages: Very neat. Compact. Compatible with Media Centre versions of Windows
Disadvantages: Difficult to control. Poor mouse accuracy
(This was my first attempt to buy a wireless keyboard although I have also written about my second much more successful purchase, the Logitech.)
A while back, whilst my mind and credit card were both in 'magpie mode', I was strolling around my local PC World trying to eavesdrop on the 'advice' being given out to unsuspecting customers when something nice and shiny caught my eye.
It was a very smart-looking compact wireless keyboard including a mouse pad like on a laptop.
It was reduced to £29.99 in a sale.
It was even supplied with extra function keys to operate slickly with Windows XP Media Centre Edition.
Do I even have Windows XP MCE? No!
Did that matter? No!
Did I buy it? Yes!
Initial impressions out of the box are favourable.
Not only does it look good (important if it's going to be in the lounge) but its keys are a pleasant shallow format like a laptop - perfect for something that's not going to get used to write one of my marathon opinions!. You even get a silky cloth to keep fingerprints at bay. The virtual slider for audio volume is very pretty; as you stroke a finger or thumb up it, blue LEDs follow your every move, extinguishing as you let go.
OH NO NOT ANOTHER PC IN THE HOUSE!
You see, I could feel my next project coming over me - build a multi media PC, hide it behind the new flat screen telly before her-indoors objects, and watch the likes of BBC iPlayer in full widescreen 37" glory.
All I needed was a means to sit 10 feet away and control the thing.
On the face of it, the Toshiba PA3705D Wireless Multimedia Keyboard looked perfect to act as my (albeit rather-larger-than-usual) remote control, but at least it didn't need a separate mouse.
It also looked the part, being made of a hi-gloss black surround with a hint of brushed aluminium. In fact, lain down in front of the telly, it looked like an official accessory.
If all this sounds like the build up to something being damned with faint praise, you'd be right.
It sat around for a while after a brief period of testing out the 'multimedia PC' idea with our laptop and was shelved for a few months.
Then one fateful day a month or so ago, I 'came by' a spare Dell PC as a result of talking someone through the process of buying another. Hint - if you want just another PC, talk someone out of upgrading it in favour of getting new one!
Reformatted and rebooted with a new version of Win XP (you'll catch me wasting my money on Vista some time after hell freezes over), the PC worked fine with the television as its monitor. With the addition of a wi-fi card, it even had web access including iPlayer, and best of all it was hidden behind the TV where we don't bothering vacuuming until the dust bunnies come running out of their burrows, begging to be 'Dysoned'.
WIRELESS KEYBOARD TURNS OUT TO BE LOAD OF OLD "TOSH"
"Aha" thought I, "now for the crowning glory - plug in the nice shiny 'Tosh' and we're away".
Well yes and no really.
Yes, Windows recognised its dongle, in the same way I'd recognise mine -
"Ooh look, something's dongling! Who put that there?" *
Within a few seconds, the keys and mouse pad were up and running - always a good sign I find.
*(OK, not an official plug'n'play message I know but wouldn't it be so much more interesting if true? Is it me, or is the word 'dongle' rude?)
At first, I put any awkwardness with the mouse pad down to the fact that I'm left-handed and the mouse pad is firmly in the east. It seemed very skittish and difficult to sit over the right spot before clicking on something. Not being a touch-typist doesn't help either as you look up to find that what you wanted to happen hasn't because the cursor drifted off the spot whilst you searched for the clicker.
Despite the lack of a low battery warning (it's got one but it wasn't flashing) I put fresh batteries in it but to no avail.
There is no specific driver software disc supplied so I assume that Microsoft's provision for USB devices and input devices are all it needs. I managed to calm down the worst excesses of the over-eager cursor by slowing it down from within Control Panel which helped, as did altering the speed of the 'double-click'. Even so, it still very prone to clicking on things I didn't want.
Trouble is that given the small area of the mouse pad, traversing a 16:9 screen now takes about four strokes of the cursor pad to cross it.
By contrast, the Microsoft wireless optical mouse that I normally use with our laptop works like a charm, using the pattern on the sofa's upholstery as its mouse mat, so I do at least know I'm not sitting too far away.
Nearer the PC base unit, it seems to behave a little better (but only a little), but I hardly think that 10 feet is too far given its multimedia pretensions. After all, more and more users are sitting way further back than I am, possibly with anything up to 50-inch screens in their lounges. If it can only be used near a PC, why make it compatible with Windows Media Centre, designed to combine TV, audio and computing?
In trying to find out more from the official Toshiba web site, I drew a blank - 'googling' the product model number turned up any number of sites willing to SELLyou one, but of the official web site not a peep. It's as if cordless keyboards aren't part of their portfolio. If this is how 'well' they work, maybe they've dropped the whole idea.
Come to think of it, it was heavily reduced in a sale!
SUMMING UP - 'ALLO MATE, GOTTA A TOSHIBA?
A curious mixture of good build quality and poor basic functionality - I ask you, a multimedia wireless keyboard that won't work remotely. What's the point of that? It's not as if it gets much better when used an 'office desk' distance from the PC.
Left-handers need not apply! Whilst I've become ambidextrous when using a mouse rather than keep moving it to 'my side' of a PC, this mouse pad feels really awkward.
A bit too highly manoeuvrable and unstable, rather like the Eurofighter, but at least that's supposed to be!
Pity - it looks like it belongs with the TV!
To paraphrase Fred Astaire's screen test - "Looks OK, can't 'mouse'. Can type a little!"
It cost me £29, thank goodness, although come to think of it, had it been at its normal price closer to forty quid I'd never have bought it!
One to steer clear of, methinks.
Summary: Cordless self-contained keyboard and pouse pad.
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