19 January 2011

Cleanliness is next to Godliness..

Recently, I received an Econo-Keys EKW-105 wireless silicone keyboard to test. I've tried other silicone keyboards in the past, and I have to say that wasn't terribly impressed with them. They tended to be difficult to type on as they required precise, strong keystrokes to register anything. But to give it an honest review, I've been using the Econo-Keys keyboard as my primary device for the past three weeks.

A quick overview from the Econo-Keys website tells us:
"The EKW-105 is a wireless keyboard with the added benefit of an integrated touchpad. Built with 2.4 GHz digital radio technology, the EKW-105 has a wireless range of 30 feet, and connects to any computer with a USB dongle.

The EKW-105 is manufactured to eliminate the need for cables and is ideal for use on carts and wall mounts. The EKW-105 has a completely washable keypad and operates on two AAA batteries (included).
And the primary reason for using a silicone-encased keyboard is the following (from the EKW-105 Datasheet):
"IP68 Protection Against
     • Splashing, hose-directed and submerged water
     • Corrosive, abrasive, acidic and alkaline substances
     • Bleach, alcohol and hospital-grade disinfectants
     • Dirt, dust, sand and other airborne debris
     • Extreme temperatures
My experience? I was pleasantly surprised by the responsiveness of the keyboard. The keys are very sensitive to the touch, the compact size of the keyboard allows for a smaller footprint (which is always important in an operatory), and the wireless capability just works. My primary system is Windows 7 Professional, and I had zero issues with the keyboard and connectivity. No additional drivers necessary. Just plug it in and off you go. An added benefit is the sealed touchpad on the right side of the keyboard. Also sensitive to the touch, this eliminates the need for a separate mouse.

Overall, I had a very positive experience. It took a few days to get used to the feeling of the silicone keys, but after using it regularly I had little to no difference in the way I type. If you're looking for an alternative to placing a standard keyboard in a plastic bag or wrapping it in cellophane, I definitely recommend you give these a look.