So you've dumped that CRT for a nice new ultra-slim LCD monitor, housed your box in a new slim small form factor cabinet, picked up a sleek, thin and discreet flat panel speaker setup, but you still use a big-ass blocky keyboard and mouse? Lucky for you, the BenQ Slim keyboard is here to complete your sleek PC picture.
The keyboard is an almost standard 104-key keyboard and is really, really, slim, sleek and sexy, just as sexy as the BenQ Joybook 6000. The keyboard, along with the keys, is just a little over half an inch high from the ground. I know some cellphones thicker than that! The keys are half-height and kind of feel like those on a laptop keyboard. The board is in a sexy matte silver finish, with black keys.
The keyboard incorporates BenQ's X-Structure technology, which aims to make the keys click softer and easier and as less noisy as possible. Though they are very soft and easy to click, I can't say they're the most quiet, because the keys on yesterday's (and the day before's) Typhoon keyboards were so soft, they made no noise at all! But yeah, they're like squeaking squirrels compared to the woodpeckers that are TVSE keyboards.
I said almost standard, because it's a got function keys in groups of three instead of four, like the recently reviewed Microsoft keyboard with the Comfort Curve. I can understand that it's generally good to make things simpler by breaking them down into smaller groups, but this three-key group concept is just making more groups than lessening the number of keys in a group. The function keys also double up for other "shortcut" keys like Undo, Redo, Save, Print, etc., which need the F-Lock turned on. The F-Lock key ousts Scroll Lock, making it take refuge as an F-function of the Pause/Break key. Since the Scroll Lock key is something I've never ever used (well, at least not since DOS 3.3), I didn't miss it at all.
The keyboard is of a European layout, so it has an AltGr key instead of the regular Alt key on the right hand side. This AltGr key essentially produces a combination of Ctrl and Alt and is used to key in third state keys, like the Euro symbol, which is on the key for the digit 4, alongside the Dollar symbol. The hash (#) symbol is replaced with a UK Pound Sterling key, moving the hash to the right side, above the right Shift key. @ has swapped places with the double quote ("). The pipe symbol (|) and the back slash is right next to the left Shift key, making the Enter key a upside down with a bigger top and slimmer bottom. This pipe and back slash symbol placement was the most irritating part about using the keyboard at work, as we often need to access other computers over the network using named pipes (\\Aalaap etc.), however, it's a standard placement as far as the European layout is concerned.
It's a little unclear as to which country this keyboard layout is meant for, but it's definitely European - something evident from the presence of the UK Pound and Euro symbol. But ultimately it depends on what keyboard input locale you set in your operating system, so if you just set it to "English (United States)", all the keys work normally. Keying in Shift-2 should logically key in the double quote, since that's what the keyboard shows, but it keys in the usual @, so all is good. Even the AltGr key functions as a standard right-Alt key.
The keyboard also has 6 extra keys on the top - Sleep being the first key, followed by browser Back, Forward, Home, Email and Favorites. These keys work without any additional software. I actually hate the placement of the Sleep key, because it's right above the F5 key. I often need to hit F5 to refresh the Web page or a folder while in Windows Explorer and generally since there isn't any key above it, I hit it in an outward motion so as to let my finger slide off it away from me. On this keyboard, that same action puts the system to sleep after refreshing the page or whatever. Grr. The included Q-Type software let's you configure the five "Internet" keys, but not the sleep key. If I could, I'd make the key run a dummy EXE instead of going into Stand By, thereby avoiding the accidental sleep-after-refresh frustration. But no.
The BenQ Slim XTouch Multimedia Keyboard retails for Rs. 700. Expensive, yes, but it's a very comfortable keyboard and it's so super sleek, sexy, smooth and stylish, that it won't pinch you after picking it up. Besides, you've already spent so much on that LCD monitor, flat panel speakers, small form factor shuttle cabinets, so what's an extra few hundred bucks to you?
Test Unit Sourced From: BenQ India.