EFO USB RF Wireless Keyboard, the "iPazzPort" -Reviewed

Written by Kevin Cheng on . Posted in Accessories

EFO iPazzPortThe third generation EFO USB RF Wireless Keyboard landed on my review desk a little while back.  To be honest, when I first received the unit I was not entirely sure what to make of it or where I may conceivably use it.  The potential of this device did finally dawn on me once I started playing with it.

First Impressions
My review unit of the EFO iPazzPort is an all white affair about the height of a phone and a bit wider.  In a way it makes me think of a wide Palm Pilot (remember the good old days?).  The unit is slim, very light and fits comfortably in one hand.

The top half of the iPazzPort is a trackpad, a QWERTY keyboard takes up the bottom half in a roughly 50/50 distribution separated by mouse buttons.  In between the left and right mouse buttons is a button for a laser pointer.  Handy!

In Action
On my Windows 7 workstation the EFO iPazzPort was detected automatically without any intervention.  I was up and running as soon as the device drivers finished installing. The iPazzPort is supported on Windows 2000, XP and 7, as well as Linux and Mac although no version is specified for the latter two.

DongleDisclosure time: while I have been using a touchscreen phone for a number of years, I have never been a huge fan of typing on anything less than a notebook sized keyboard.  Personally I find it hampers my typing speed too much and my preference is always to revert to a normal-ish size keyboard for any decent amount of typing.

Naturally though in the spirit of gadget testing, I wrote part of this review using the iPazzPort.  My immediate reaction is that while writing a review is doable, it is far from efficient and not what the device is designed for.  It is conceivable to use the device one handed, but it is easier for me to hold it in both hands and type with my thumbs.

I ran into issues figuring out how to use Shift keys vis-a-vis capitals. For some reason I keep using the SF key to shift when it gives me alternate input function.  I put this down to the learning curve despite the inconsistent nature of the Caps Lock notification LED.

What made it impossible for me to write the review using the iPazzPort is its tendency to drop keystrokes.  It took a bit of testing but it appears the "a" key on my review unit is dodgy and will only work once every few presses.  Other than that, I could (fairly) laboriously write whole paragraphs using just the iPazzPort.

The mouse touchpad side however was responsive, akin to one on a notebook.  A nice touch is the back lighting on demand which emits a nice, not too bright orange glow over the keypad half of the unit.

Other Features
Dongle StorageOne very handy aspect of the iPazzPort is that it works out of the box with my Playstation 3 and Wii.  If nothing else it makes programming my wireless encryption key into them a billion times easier.  It does not, however, work with my Avedia media gate.

The device is charged via a mini-USB port on the bottom of the unit.

The USB dongle is "docked" to the back of the device with a magnetised area when not in use.

* 4 in 1: Keyboard, mouse, touchpad and laser pointer 4 in 1.
* QWERTY keyboard has more defined buttons.
* Full Function keys (F1 to F12) and Multi-Media Key (Play, Pause, Next, Previous, Mute, Volume Up, Volume Down).
* Rechargeable Li-ion batteries: Last longer up to two weeks between charges.
* Short recharge time: Around two hours can fully charge the battery.
* 2.4G DSSS: Enjoy long-range wireless control from up to 10 metre (33 feet) away.
* Indication light: Multiple indication lights for signal, data transmission and power.
* Touch Pad: Use as point and click no mouse is required for simple portable operation.
* Backlighting: Makes text entry effortless even in low light.
* Compact: Perfect size for portable (85 X 135 X 10 mm).
* Light weight: Only with 60 g.
* Plug and play: no need to install software.
* Charge voltage/current : 5V/300mA
* Standby time : 600 hours

Minimum System Requirements
* Mac OS, Linux, Windows 2000, Windows XP, Windows Vista or Windows 7 with USB port.
* Compatible with Playstation 3, Xbox 360, Wii, etc game station.

Back lightFor starters, the "a" key is intermittent on my unit.  I am putting it down to a dud unit.

The magnetised area for the USB dongle is a clever solution but given how much the dongle does stick out, it can still be easily dislodged in a bag.

The Caps Lock, special function LED notification is inconsistent.  I have to type something to figure out what mode I am in.

I have noted a number of gripes with the iPazzPort from my review testing.  To be honest, none of them are real deal breakers as no one is likely to try what I did, which is typing up a full review using a tiny keyboard when a perfectly good keyboard is available with the screen at the perfect distance for my eyes.

The iPazzPort is perfect for use in presentations or a media PC where only minor number of keystrokes and/or mouse movements are required, and operation from a distance is an advantage.  It is ideal for a Media Center machine where the operating system is supported.  The device can operate up to 10m (30 feet) away although that would be without building material obstructions or other interference.

Digitalreview would like to thank EFO for providing the review unit, it is available from here for USD$45 in a choice of white or black.

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