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Review: A virtual keyboard for any surface

It saves space in your carry-on bag and packs a high 'cool' factor

By Yuval Kossovsky
January 12, 2007 12:00 PM ET

Computerworld - Does this problem sound familiar? You're carrying a mobile phone and typing text messages using the keypad and the T9 word recognition software. At some point, at the 100th word, the process gets really annoying. Or, you have a full keyboard PDA device, but the keys are so small that anything other than a short e-mail cramps your hand. Or you're on an airplane and your laptop doesn't quite fit on the tray table, making writing e-mails uncomfortable and difficult.

For all of these situations and more I have found a great solution: the I-Tech virtual laser keyboard.

At first I thought this product would be a curiosity, but I have found it to be both handy and refreshing to use.

I-Tech virtual laser keyboard
I-Tech virtual laser keyboard
The device, priced at $180, is a black obelisk about the size of a lipstick tube that uses infrared and laser technology to project an outline of a full keyboard onto any surface. You type by "pressing" the keys, and the laser senses your actions. The keyboard can be made slightly larger or smaller depending on how the device is angled. It's also compatible with a long list of handhelds, PCs and Macintosh computers. A list of compatible devices can be found here, and new drivers are being added all the time.

To test the virtual keyboard, I connected it to my wife's Treo and began to type e-mails. At first I had trouble typing a clean sentence, but changing the sensitivity of the keyboard eliminated most of the errors. It was simple to set up and use, plus the geek factor of whipping out this device and having a glowing keyboard spring from it made the whole experience that much more exciting.

If you need to type lots of e-mail on the road, don't want to carry a laptop, but want the comfort of using a full keyboard, the virtual keyboard fits the bill.

Did I miss something? Do you have feedback? Send your questions, comments and curses to y.kossovsky@ieee.org.

Read more about Mobile/Wireless in Computerworld's Mobile/Wireless Topic Center.



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