There are plenty of people out there asking themselves, where I can find a keyboard that is backlit for those late night gaming sessions or late night papers. Well, one of those keyboards is the Verbatim PC Tuneboard. This keyboard not only satisfies the need to have a backlit keyboard, but it also has built in speakers to allow you to enjoy your favorite tunes while gaming or writing something.
This keyboard allows for you to reduce clutter by combining both your keyboard and speakers into one device, and today we will evaluate how well it does this task.
As always, we start our review with a look at the packaging and its environmental impact. As you can see in the pictures below, Verbatim went for the clean design, reminding us that this is an American company [Verbatim Corporation is a subsidiary of Japanese Mitsubishi Chemical Holdings, though].
The packaging on this keyboard is fairly minimal and consists of cardboard, foam and plastic wrapping. The cardboard can be recycled but the rest must be thrown away.
In addition to that, the packaging does hold up to the drop and kick test and has already been subjected to prior dropping and kicking by the shipper based on the damage we noticed on one of the corners of the box. Clearly, it has caused no damage to the keyboard and the packaging has done its job.
In typically clean Verbatim fashion, the back of the box is contains basic information about the product without overdoing the design.
Overall, this box is one of better ones when it comes to keyboards – we had no issues with unpacking the product [you'd be surprised at procedures we had to take with some keyboards] and we liked the cleanness of the design. Next up, the keyboard itself.
Well, in this department we really didn’t get anything beyond the keyboard and a quick start guide. The quick start guide really wasn?t any help at all since it basically just told you to plug the darn thing in. This is even more minimalistic than the previous product we reviewed from Verbatim. Then again, wasting paper on a manual for a keyboard is something we cannot environmentally justify – it’s better this way.
Verbatim lists that they have support numbers for the US and Canada as well as Mexico and Argentina. They also have websites that you can visit for support in the same countries listed above as well as Brazil. The warranty that comes with this keyboard is a standard one-year warranty that covers defects in materials and or workmanship. In the Europe, though, Verbatim is bound by EU laws [just like every company that wants to do business in the EU]; people in countries that are members of the EU will receive a 2-year warranty as opposed to the standard global 1-year warranty.
So, since this is advertised as a PC Tuneboard, we decided to go ahead and test its ability to play music. First, we tested this keyboard in both the upcoming Windows 7 [64-bit Ultimate, RTM version] and Windows Vista. In both cases it worked right off the bat and automatically began to output sound – no drivers needed. Once inside the operating system, we took three commonly used music playback applications and attempted to control them via the keyboard.
First to be tested was iTunes, the sound controls on the keyboard only work when iTunes is actually opened and the primary window on the screen, if minimized one cannot control iTunes. Next came Windows Media Player, and not surprisingly, the controls worked both minimized and while opened. This came to us as a pleasant surprise considering that iTunes had not necessarily been fully functioning. Next came VLC player, and this thing did not work AT ALL. Simply put, you could not control VLC at all using this keyboard?s audio playback controls.
Next came the finish, the keyboard itself is a fingerprint magnet. Literally every time you touch this keyboard you can immediately see where you touched it. This is, in part, due to the fact that it has a very glossy finish. In any case, if you own a keyboard and capture the attention of folks from CSI, they won’t have an issue tracking your identity.
Now, the backlight was fairly useful during the night but it too had quirks. Most notably the fact that it would turn off every time that I put the computer into sleep mode and would not come back on until I pressed the backlight button again. Some may consider this a power saving feature, but I would call it a nuisance. If you notice, there are also lights that light up the sides and front of the keyboard as well.
As for the keys themselves, they are not too tough or too soft. They do have some kind of feedback that you receive when you hit them, so this is not a bad keyboard in that sense that you can actually type fairly quickly. At no point did I feel like this keyboard was harder to type on than my standard G15 keyboard. Bear in mind that as there are no two identical humans, the type of keyboard you prefer might be Logitech-Style, Cherry-Style, IBM-style and so on. Thus, there is no simple way to test would this keyboard suit your needs. The good side about this product is that you can type without the key touching the base of the keyboard.
This keyboard also comes with a microphone and headphone jack located on the back part of the keyboard. Unfortunately, the feature is quite hidden and you don’t even know exists unless you stumble upon it. In that sense, it?s out of sight and out of mind.
There were also adjustable height settings that could be set on the bottom of the keyboard to adjust for a completely flat keyboard, an elevated keyboard, and an even more elevated setting above that. Given that there aren’t a lot of three-step keyboards on the market, this move is appreciated.
As for the audio quality itself, since this is a fairly subjective question we asked a few people to listen to some music on this keyboard to confirm if they felt like this song had lost any audio quality over a standard pair of speakers we had around. Overall, the consensus was that the speakers actually were not bad at all and had a decent amount of bass for such small speakers and that they could deliver a lot more sound than had been anticipated. This is in part helped by the fact that there is actually an amplifier button that increases the volume of the sound outputted from the speakers by what we can only estimate to be around 2-3 times more.
This product currently sells for 68 dollars on Amazon.com which, if you ask us is a little bit too much for this keyboard considering all of the quirks it comes with and the fact that one doesn’t get any added value when purchasing this product. It?s merely a keyboard with built in speakers, so if you factor in the cost that speakers would cost you, you could say that maybe 10-20 dollars of the price may be just in the fact that it includes speakers. We believe that a price point of $50 would be more appropriately priced based on our experiences.
This keyboard has its ups and downs and overall, we can say that in reality it isn’t really a bad or especially good keyboard at all but it definitely needs work in a few categories. Based on our experience we cannot currently recommend that one should go out and buy this keyboard on the premise of using it as a media player device – the competing keyboards had multimedia keys that worked in all of tested applications, thus we believe Verbatim should work on the firmware to get this keyboard compatible with everything.