IOGEAR GKM561R - Features & Usage Impressions

The IOGEAR GKM561R is a wireless keyboard / trackball combo. Using 2x AA batteries, it operates in the 2.4 GHz range and has an advertised range of 33 ft. Since it is a HID-compliant device, it works for PCs (including MCE applications) and game consoles. It is also compatible with some of 'Smart TVs' such as the Samsung ES6500 series. The trackball is on the top right, while the mouse buttons and scroll wheel / middle button are on the left.

The unique feature of the IOGEAR unit is that the cursor speed can be controlled from the keyboard itself. Speeds of 400, 800 and 1200 dpi can be configured for the trackball. The 2.4 GHz spectrum is pretty crowded, and, in order to prevent interference, the unit is capable of performing automatic frequency hopping (with operation in 1 of 78 distinct channels). On the hardware side, we have rubber grips on the underside for slip resistance. There is also a recessed on-off button on the same side. In terms of multimedia buttons, there are 19 keys at the top including volume control and Media Center functions.

An issue with most of the HTPC-oriented keyboards is that the ergonomics make it very difficult to operate them with a single hand. For typical PC usage, it is acceptable to expect both hands to be used to interact. However, in the living room, it is often common to have the device by the side rather than hold it with both hands (particularly, when using it as a replacement for a mouse). In this context, the IOGEAR unit has a drawback, as the mouse buttons are on the left side while the trackball is on the right.

The Return and Backspace keys are much bigger than usual. However, the more grating aspect of the keyboard layout is the asymmetric nature of the arrow keys. The Left key is larger compared to the other three. All in all, it has a very strange keyboard layout that has scope for improvement.

On the positive side, the membrane keys are a pleasure to type on. Easy access to the different DPI options for the trackball movement is definitely an advantage. The trackball's minimal space requirements is an advantage, but the inability of the end-user to clean up the dirt which invariably collects is a minus point. The industrial design of the keyboard is attractive, and the unit is quite solid compared to the Logitech K400.

Introduction SIIG JK-WR0412-S1 - Features & Usage Impressions
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  • kolepard - Sunday, March 2, 2014 - link

    The section on the Logitech appears to be missing at the moment. Reply
  • kolepard - Sunday, March 2, 2014 - link

    Ah, nevermind, I see now. Reply
  • sepffuzzball - Sunday, March 2, 2014 - link

    I still use my Logitech Dinovo Edge for my HTPC...still haven't found one that looks better! Bit expensive at $100 when I bought it (on sale I believe too) though... Reply
  • xraycat - Sunday, March 2, 2014 - link

    This is the latest HTPC keyboard/mouse/remote device I'm using:
    http://liliputing.com/2013/04/feilan-fl-102-media-...
    I've got the Lenovo Remote Keyboard v2 and used to have v1. This Feilan device is great as it can switch between PC (RF) and TV (IR). The only downside is it can't switch between multiple IR devices, I just program the buttons to operate my TV and cable box simultaneously.
    Reply
  • willis936 - Sunday, March 2, 2014 - link

    After reading through this I realized how cheap it would be to be able to control my desktop from my TV in the next room. I have an HDMI extender going to it and it works great but having to use a dinky android tablet for remote desktop or get up to change/set stuff up is annoying. $30 to be able to just turn on my tv and use my computer from my couch? Yep. Reply
  • Don Tonino - Sunday, March 2, 2014 - link

    I'm not sure if it is still on sale, but for the last 3 or 4 years I've been quite happy with the Enermax Aurora Micro (http://www.enermax.co.uk/aurora-micro-wireless). The aluminium face place adds to the weight, but it has a really neat finish and feeling IMHO. Reply
  • kgh00007 - Sunday, March 2, 2014 - link

    What about this Logitech k820 all in one, totally awesome and multi touch touchpad supports windows 8 gestures!
    http://www.logitech.com/en-us/product/wireless-all...
    Reply
  • Vincent - Sunday, March 2, 2014 - link

    I have the IOGEAR and am unimpressed with its build quality. The left mouse button sticks and the trackball does not consistently respond. I have two Logitech K400s and they are way better. Reply
  • ganeshts - Sunday, March 2, 2014 - link

    The trackball issue - I have seen that on almost all trackball based units I have used - FWIW, the trackball quality, feel and responsiveness was better on the IOGEAR compared to the SIIG.

    Now, the K400 is a touchpad unit -- So, it wouldn't be fair to compare the trackball vs. touchpad build quality. In addition, the K400s are almost half the weight of the other units. For many people, it appears a little flimsy.. Having a toddler around in the living room, I have been worried about the health of the K400 when it gets into her hands :)

    It is all a subjective experience -- Personally, I prefer the touchpad to the trackball keyboards, but different people have different requirements / preferences.
    Reply
  • casteve - Monday, March 3, 2014 - link

    I have the K400. On the plus side, it's cheap and Logitech's paired wifi transceivers work great. On the minus side, the touchpad response is horrible/erratic. If they put in a decent quality touchpad and added a backlight to the keyboard (HTPC lives in a dark room, eh?) it would go from mediocre to great. Reply

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