Elecom TK-PBL042BK Projection Keyboard: a wireless ‘keyboard’ with mouse mode

March 16, 2012
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In a world where high-end mobile devices (like the HTC One X, Samsung Galaxy S2, or the Apple iPhone 4S, to name a few) increasingly incorporate the functionality of a standard PC, one of the few reasons to turn to a Personal Computer is the convenience provided by having a full-size keyboard. But there is a solution to this problem as well – introducing the Elecom  TK-PBL042BK Projection Keyboard with mouse mode.

The name is slightly misleading, as the device does not actually have any keys, nor even a board, requiring instead just a flat surface on which an infrared ‘keyboard’ can be projected. Elecom’s device itself is a rectangular gadget that connects to Android or iOS mobile devices via Bluetooth. It can also connect to a PC or laptop through Bluetooth or USB (it also charges its battery when connected by USB), but this capability is seemingly redundant, considering the availability of an actual physical keyboard. The device works by triangulating the position of your fingers while you type, and “sensing” what “key” is being “pressed”.

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The Elecom TK-PBLO42BK is extremely portable, measuring 38.0 x 29.0 x 75.0 mm and weighing 77 grams (without a battery). The projected keyboard itself requires far less space than a standard PC keyboard. It has a standard key length of 19mm and can handle up to 350 words per minute, which is more than enough, considering the average 50 words/minute typing speed. This new version also comes with ‘mouse mode’, although “trackpad mode” would’ve been more  appropriate. In mouse mode, the device projects a trackapd, an area over which you can move your finger just like you’d do with a normal laptop trackpad. The brightness of the projection can also be adjusted on three levels, which comes handy when you want to save energy.

While tablets do provide an improved typing experience, the virtual keyboards of smaller mobile devices  leave much to be desired. Elecom’s new virtual keyboard will help reduce this annoyance. It’s also certainly an advantage that the recently released model is supported by both Android and iOS devices, not to mention any kind of PC.

The days when painstakingly typing an SMS or an email on your phone may be over, but at a price, and what a price! The Elecom TK-PBLO42BK is expected to be available in early April, at a price of around $350, which seems kind of steep, especially when considering that the average smartphone costs much less than that.

Would you try out a virtual projection keyboard? Is the estimated price too high for such a product? Is it too soon to move away  from your faithful old PC?

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