SIIG JK-WR0412-S1 - Features & Usage Impressions

The SIIG JK-WR0412-S1 is a wireless mini multimedia trackball keyboard. Using 2x AA batteries, it operates in the 2.4 GHz range and has an advertised range of 33 ft. The trackball is on the top right. In truly ergonomic fashion, there is a left click button on the top side of the frame which makes it easy to move the trackball and perform a left click operation simultaneously with a single hand. For the 'typical' living room scenario usage with both hands, there are left and right click buttons on the top left (similar to the IOGEAR keyboard covered in the previous section). However, unlike the IOGEAR keyboard, the scroll wheel is not on the top panel, but on top side of the frame (on the left side, right above the two mouse buttons).

The trackball resolution is set to 800 dpi and is not configurable.  The 2.4 GHz spectrum is pretty crowded, and, in order to prevent interference, the unit is capable of frequency hopping (with operation in 1 of 80 distinct channels). The unit has rubber soles for slip resistance. Unlike the IOGEAR unit, there is no explicit power switch (which is a drawback if you have a toddler active in your living room). However, for power saving purposes, the keyboard enters a sleep state after 8 minutes of inactivity. Only a keypress or mouse button click can bring it out of the sleep state. This is a bit frustrating in living room scenarios, where users tend to move the trackball first. The trackball itself is flimsier than the one on the IOGEAR unit. They main keys are also smaller than the standard size that we encountered on the other units. This might make fast typing difficult for those used to standard keyboards, though that is probably not the primary use case for this keyboard.

In terms of keyboard layout, the Fn key and Ctrl key on the bottom left are switched from the usual, which may result in the user inadvertently mistyping key combinations. Another unfortunate aspect of the keyboard layout is the fact that a numeric keypad is embedded in the main keypad, and it is controlled by the NumLock key. Most computers boot with the NumLock key turned on, resulting in the users typing in numbers instead of the intended letters. In case of passwords, the user might not even realize the mistake. It would be nice to have an indicator on the device for this purpose. That said, PCs usually have a BIOS setting to turn off this feature. The problem turned out to be bad enough for SIIG to issue an addendum [PDF] to the user manual [PDF].

The trackball has a red glow underneath when the unit is in the active state. This provides an easy way to identify whether a keypress or mouse click needs to be made, but might also be disconcerting in a dark room (a frequent HTPC usage scenario). The ergonomics and intuitiveness of the keyboard and the mouse buttons / scroll wheel layout, as well as the larger number of special keys, are the positives for the device.

IOGEAR GKM561R - Features & Usage Impressions SIIG JK-WR0312-S1 - Features & Usage Impressions
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  • rygaroo - Monday, March 3, 2014 - link

    So I keep my HTPC in my bedroom closet (the wall behind my TV) and run an HDMI cable through a wall plate, and my current wireless keyboard cuts out if I'm too far away from the TV. Are there any keyboard/mouse combos that would get me better signal for my particular setup? Reply
  • wlossw - Monday, March 3, 2014 - link

    Too bad there's no option with MAC keyboard layout... oh wait... apple keyboard + magic trackpad + 12 south magic wand. done. Reply
  • Spazzy - Monday, March 3, 2014 - link

    My current favorite;
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=9S...

    The track pad on this unit is simply stellar. It even mimics standard laptop functionality like tap to click. Lets be honest, you use the mouse functions far more often then you use the keyboard on a media center. Which is a good thing as the keyboard, while perfectly functional, is not the easiest to type on. This is mostly due to size, but also due to the odd placement of non numerical/alphabetic keys. You have to use the function key to get to any of those symbols.

    This unit works great for one handed operation of the mouse and allows quick word searches without having to drag out a full sized keyboard. It contains a rechargeable battery that typically last me two weeks between charges. It does have a side mounted on/off switch, but I rarely use it.

    If they added a scroll wheel, another row of keys (so they could put non alpha keys in their normal place), and included a keyboard back light, this would be the perfect media center keyboard. As it is, it is pretty close!
    Reply
  • acme64 - Monday, March 3, 2014 - link

    I wish i could find that original Boxee remote. If I can get that working on windows i'd be set. Reply
  • Rhoshambo - Monday, March 3, 2014 - link

    Am I the only one who cares about the keyboard being backlight? I used mine in a HTPC environment with a theatre projector and blackout blinds, and for me the killer app is being able to see the keys in the dark. Reply
  • KITH - Monday, March 3, 2014 - link

    I personally have the lenovo mini remote and the SIIG JK-WR0312-S1
    For any typing the lenovo is a joke but the SIIG has excellent feedback on the keys and is a very sturdy build.
    Reply
  • RemoteControlAxe - Monday, March 3, 2014 - link

    Or there's the dark horse option: Unified remote! http://www.unifiedremote.com/
    Basically, you run a server application on your Windows PC and an app on your Android/Windows phone, and it turns your phone into a trackpad with your phone keyboard collapsible. I've used it for a while to great success with my PC in the living room. Also, it's free (yes there's a paid version of the app, but I don't need it). There are also some fancy media player specific remotes in it if you're into that, but I've generally found the default trackpad to be the way to go.
    Reply
  • Aikouka - Tuesday, March 4, 2014 - link

    I used a similar solution to that called HippoRemote (www.hipporemote.com). It worked by installing a branded VLC server on my PC, and I was able to connect to it using the app (free or paid). The secondary benefit of installing a VLC server for it? I had a VLC server to connect to. =P Although, now I just use Splashtop for remote administrating. Reply
  • Offperception - Tuesday, March 4, 2014 - link

    Weird, I have a K400 and it does have the distance stuttering problem. This article at least tells me why this is happening. And just as I read this article this morning, Logitech added a new variant of the K400, paired with its Harmony tech. http://www.logitech.com/en-us/product/harmony-smar...

    Since it's not clear when this will be in Europe, as it appears very US oriented (it's not even on the Dutch Logitech site), how soon will this be reviewed here, I wonder?
    Reply
  • fourpobs - Tuesday, March 4, 2014 - link

    I bought an IOGEAR GKM561R 4-5 years ago (this is not a new device) to control my HTPC from the couch. At the time there were fewer options but it worked for me and I quickly adjusted to the 2-handed mousing.

    About a year a go wine got spilled all over it and it quit working except for a few keys. I took a long hard look around for a replacement thinking "there must be something better for my needs by now" and had a budget of <$150. I like something I can actually type on and that is durable and slick looking. I am not cheap but I really didn't find anything I thought would be better in that price range. In the end, I ended up buying another one and am content.
    Reply

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