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Technology Today  May  2005
by Robert Sanborn

Saitek Eclipse Keyboard

I was truly impressed with this keyboard when I saw the prototype at the CES show and just had to have one. It took them till now (Mid March) to get me one and I am still impressed. Well, let me tell you, a keyboard, is not just a keyboard. This one is truly cool because it has a blue led backlight on each and every key on the board so you can see it and use it no matter what the lighting in the room is. And I donít mean a backlight around each key, which it has; I mean a backlight through each key. The lettering on each key is carved into the key so you actually see the light through it. It is a patented TrueVu key illumination technology, As I said, cool. 

What was surprising is that it comes with no documentation at all. Just the keyboard in a box in a box. Simply take it out, plug it into an available USB port on your computer, and you are ready to go. I was almost stuck when I turned on my computer because the way I have Windows XP setup, it requires a password to log in. I was sitting there wondering how you deal with this chicken and egg situation because the drivers donít normally install until you have Windows running but as I sat there contemplating having to dig out the old ps/2 keyboard and plug it in just so I could install this USB keyboard, it comes to life. Windows evidently went ahead and installed it and so I could type in the password and go on. What is even neater, it has volume control buttons for my computer speakers which I have placed just a tad out of reach so it works out very well for me. As I said, with no drivers to install, it connected just fine. 

The Eclipse Keyboard is a low profile keyboard that is intended to help you keep a better posture when typing by helping you keep your wrist straighter, it comes with a wrist rest as well which in my case, I extended out and that seemed to work very well for me. This is a good looking keyboard as they go, I like the low profile and the feel of the keys and there is a good response when you hit them. The only snag is that if you have a bright light in the room, the keys at the back of the keyboard are hard to read. As to the ergonomic benefit to the keyboard, only long term use will tell. What I am looking forward to though is when summer comes and I need to keep the lights off to help cut down on the heat, this keyboard will do great. You can find it at www.saitek.com and I suspect it will be around $50. 

Monster Cable 

This is a company most of us have never dealt with but it has an incredible reach of products and services. If you stick mostly with computers, you might have seen some of their cables in computer connections to audio or video components but that was usually it. For most of us that stick with home or small business computers, seen one cable you have seen them all. Then last fall, I was taking a look at some of the football schedules and saw that they had bought out the naming rights for what we used to know was Candlestick Park, the home of the San Francisco 49rs. Got to be big bucks somewhere in there I thought. And finally, what tipped the balance was a friends tip that I should go over there to get tickets to their awards dinner at CES. An awards dinner for a cable company? He then asked me if I wanted to see Rod Stewart and so I said you bet. So I went, was completely surprised with what they had (besides cable), and yes, I really enjoyed Rod Stewart. So take a look at their home page at http://www.monstercable.com/. If you want to learn more about connecting your home theater system together, besides all the products they carry, they also have a number of instructional documents and videos to help you put it all together. 

What really interested me was their M-Design group, http://www.mdesignlife.com/. A new venture in home theater components and design that is simply amazing designing what to me looks like the future of home theater. Take a look at their listening rooms on their web site. In a visit with Noel Lee, head monster, he tells us that the last year has been difficult for the audio side of home theater upgrades despite the surge upward in sales of the televisions. What they are doing with M-Design is to design home systems with an idea of keeping all the cabling hidden away. And he showed us some really neat concepts of designing consoles, speaker systems, and a really unique design in speakers and home theaters. When turned off, the systems look like fine pieces of furniture. One of the products I thought was the coolest of show was the InvisiSound Flat screen mirror frame. Wow. For only $5000, you can have a piece of art hanging on your wall that turns into a television screen.

 Short Takes 

It seems like we are getting close to the next round of technology changes with the new Microsoft Operating System to replace XP called Longhorn, and the new round of Intel processor upgrades to a 64bit platform. We have been on this 32bit platform since the Pentium processor was introduced in 1993. The Pentium 4 was first introduced in 2000 and so it is time for a new generation for those of us on desktop systems. Intel has had 64 bit processors out for a few years now with their Itanium and Xeon processors but those have been really dedicated to server applications. Yes you can get a Xeon for your desktop but you will pay dearly for it.


Robert Sanborn is a technology writer for PC Lifeline. You can reach him through the net at robert@pcll.com 


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