Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Random Thoughts: Keyboards, Suface Pro, and Shields

So, I think it time for another Random Thoughts post, since I haven't been posting here much lately as I have been kind of busy. I recently picked up the Type Cover 2 for my Surface Pro, and it had me thinking a bit about when I got the Surface Pro I didn't think I would buy the cover because of the price. The thing is there are so many Bluetooth keyboards out there, it didn't really make sense to me to buy this one that only works on one thing.

I will say this though, I was wrong and I am very glad that I ended up getting the Type Cover 2, even if the touchpad is less than stellar, and I has some keys I think would have been better mapped to media controls, but the thing I am mainly looking at here is keyboards in general, not just this one. Sometimes, it is better to spend the money I guess since this does have some advantages over Bluetooth ones.

For one, unless I want to use my mouse, I can turn Bluetooth off which means I can use the 2.4ghz WiFi without being crippled. I may have touched on this before but Microsoft figured it would be a great idea to use a single chip solution, since WiFi and Bluetooth would never interfere with each other since they are both 2.4GHz radios. Thankfully I have my older router setup to do 5GHz for the Surface Pro.

One of the other advantages is that I have a case that holds the Surface Pro well, since it was made for netbooks, it is almost the perfect size. It is a little too small for my Logitech K810, the Bluetooth keyboard I have been using since January. I originally bought that one for my Nexus 7, but with the 3 device pairing, it can be useful for more than one thing. The issue is the keyboard will fit but it is very tight squeeze, something I don't feel quite too comfortable doing.

One other advantage is that I don't need to worry about batteries anymore. There is nothing to charge this way expect for my mouse which gets TERRIBLE battery life, even though that k810 will last a LONG time on a charge. It is nice to no longer need to worry before I go somewhere if the battery is low since there is no real way to tell unless you have it paired up, and go into the SetPoint software. My old K800, which was NOT Bluetooth and a full sized keyboard had a 3 segment LED battery meter on it, as well as using easy to replace (with a screw driver) NiMH AA batteries.

Depending on what you are doing, the backlighting can be very nice too. The other day, I was using my Nvidia Shield, something else I want to talk about soon, and the K810 at a concert. I was at a coffee shop so I was able to just place both of them onto the table and not need to worry about balancing anything, and since I had the light up keys I could type without a single problem seeing any of the keys. This was something that the original Type Cover lacked, as well as something I wanted to buy more than this.

That something is the Power Cover, the one with a built in battery that was promised to extend your battery by about 50% which would be about 2 hours in my case. The problem was they didn't backlight the keys, and at 200 dollars, if they can't even do that, than quite frankly, I don't think you deserve my money. I have been spoiled by my love of ThinkPads with something called the ThinkLight, which was on most of them before they started to have backlit keyboards at all.

Simply put, it was an LED that shines down onto the keyboard so you can see in the dark. Now, I can type decently well without looking at the keys, but it helps me to know where they are when I can see them. I may not need to look at them, but seeing the lights makes it a LOT easier to know where they are in relation to where my hands are. I guess you can see I need a rough guide to see the keys at first.

Now, speaking of the Shield, that is something that is bothering me as well lately. They are keeping the original, and renaming it the Shield "Portable" which is pretty stupid in my opinion. The real problem is the NEW model is no longer quite the same device. I was expecting to see a spec bump such as more RAM or a newer processor, but not an 8" tablet with a WiFi Direct game controller.

I get it, I really do. They want to give you options. Okay, really it is because they knew the original wasn't a huge seller, and a tablet will be a bigger seller, but they are doing it all wrong. For example, the controller doesn't come with it, so you need to shell out more money for that. Also, there is no kickstand or anything on the tablet, so you need to prop it up somewhere.

So, you need a place to put the tablet while you play a game, with the controller that you needed to buy separately. Also, you need to carry these separately as well. Now I know the original Shield is hardly small, but that is like buying a Playstation Vita, and being told the controller is an extra piece. They have defeated the purpose to me. They made my decision to NOT buy the new Shield far too easy. If that was the case, I would just use my Nexus 7 and my Moga Pro controller again.

To me, they should offer that, call it the Shield "Tablet", include the controller and a case with a stand. They could have then beefed up the Shield "Portable", with the Tegra K1, perhaps some extra RAM, make it a little smaller, and so on and so forth. Just give it a spec bump pretty much. They could even make a cheaper OUYA like console too and sell that.

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