KEYBOARDS

This column is being typed on a Merc Stealth keyboard made by Ideazon. “Merc” stands for “mercenary,” like a soldier of fortune, because this is a gamer’s keyboard. The “Stealth” part comes from the marketing department, and we have no idea what it means.

We don’t play the action games that this is designed for, but it’s quite a good keyboard for normal use. In fact, Bob now uses it regularly. The Merc Stealth has illuminated keys, so it can be used in the dark, should that ever come up. You can choose red, blue or purple for the backlighting, and switch between them.

Along with the normal PC layout, there are 41 extra keys, most of which can be programmed. They’re meant to make game play faster and easier — one of them is marked “jump,” for example, and another is marked “duck” — but you don’t have to use them that way. Sockets along the back edge of the keyboard are for attaching headphones, a mouse and two USB devices of your choice. That’s a lot of functionality for $90 from the Ideazon store at Ideazon.com

Keyboards are the one computer attachment we use all the time. Bob says he hasn’t found one that’s totally satisfactory since the Atex keyboard used by many newspapers, magazines and book publishers. Unfortunately, while still around, that keyboard does not work with PCs or Macs.

Other keyboards: You can get a tiny box that projects a keyboard layout onto a desk or any flat surface; laser sensors detect the movement of your fingers and determine when you clicked a key or note. This has a nice super-spy look, but otherwise has little appeal. Itech sells one for about $180 at Laser-Keyboard.com.

For something definitely different we tried the Flexible Waterproof Compact Keyboard from Adesso, which we found for $30 at Buy.com. This is a full-size Flexible KeyboardPC keyboard made from some kind of synthetic rubber or soft plastic. You can roll it up and tuck it into your knapsack. It is unaffected by spills, and you can wash it off under the faucet. On the downside, it doesn’t feel right to Joy, who is a touch typist, and it would take some getting used to for anybody. It’s fun, though. When all is said and done, Bob is still looking for the perfect keyboard.

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