Typing at the Speed of Light
As I sit here and type the review of the
Luxeed U5 LED Dynamic Pixel
Keyboard, I do so partly to share my experience with it, but mainly I’m typing
this review just to have an excuse to use this keyboard more because I’m
enjoying it so much! When I first
saw this keyboard online, I knew I wanted to try it out. Since they are only sold a limited number
of places online and they cost in the neighborhood of
$140, I couldn’t bring
myself to buying one, finding out I didn’t like it, and having to go through the
hassle of trying to return it to an online store. So, I E-mailed Luxeed and they agreed to
send me an evaluation unit and I agreed to write an honest review.
Rather than bore you with the technical, “geeky”
details of this keyboard, this review will be written for the average user. If you want more of the technical
details, feel free to contact me.
What makes this keyboard so unique? Well, unlike other illuminated keyboards,
each of the illuminated keys on this keyboard can be programmed in one of 7
different colors, letting you create your own layout of colors and saving up to
4 different layouts so you can pick the one that fits your current mood. There’s even a “Rainbow” mode in which
the keyboard cycles through the available colors…it is a pretty cool effect. Other reviews have already covered the
main features of this keyboard, like this one:
I’d like to focus on one of the fairly overlooked
options of this keyboard called “Spark” mode.
When the keyboard is in this mode, keys light up in your chosen color
only when the key is pressed. Many
people find this feature to be “geeky” or a novelty, but I see it in a
completely different way. Without
knowing it, Luxeed has developed a piece of adaptive technology for people like
me who type with either a head-wand or a mouth-stick. I, myself, use a head-wand to type (see
picture below), meaning that I look at the keyboard as I type and not the
screen. Without some sort of feedback, I do not
always know if I have pressed a key hard enough.
Me typing on a standard netbook
For years I have used a utility called Voiced
Keyboard which gives me audible keyboard feedback in Windows by having a
synthesized voice repeat each key I press.
Unfortunately, I discovered that it does not work within the remote
support software I’ve been using with clients for the last year because of the
way the remote software “captures” my keystrokes; the keys never actually make
it to Voiced Keyboard. Considering
that I spend around 80% of my time now providing remote support, this is
somewhat of a problem because I constantly have to look at my screen every few
seconds to verify that I have not made any mistakes.
This decreases my productivity greatly.
Within minutes of connecting the Luxeed keyboard, I
knew I had found the solution to my dilemma!
I spent a few minutes playing around with each feature, and then I turned
on “Spark” mode (using my colors of choice), and I have not looked back since; I
rarely look at my screen any more as I type either because I’m so confident in
my typing now. My typing speed has
increased by 10%-25% as well, verified by a typing speed test utility, because
it takes a fraction of the time for me to see a key light up than to hear a
synthesized voice say a letter or number. Light does in fact travel faster than
sound. (Note: I typed those last two
sentences without looking at the screen once and they were typo-free!).
Me typing on a the Luxeed U5 LED Keyboard
Now, lest you think I am being paid by Luxeed to write praises about
this keyboard, it does have its faults, some of which are rather significant:
On the current model, there is no number
keypad. This is important for many
users, and it has kind of put me at a slight disadvantage because I often
use the keypad as a mouse (using Windows’ built-in MouseKeys option) when I
need to move the mouse a very small amount.
I did read a rumor saying that Luxeed was going to release a separate
keypad soon. Since this keyboard offers me other
advantages, I’ve learned to live without it, but I hope to see a keypad on
the next model.
The spacebar does not light up at all! This, for me is the most glaring fault of
this piece of hardware. The
largest and most-used key on the keyboard not only stays boring, it gives me
no visual feedback of being pressed!
I had to re-enable Voiced Keyboard for the spacebar so I could
continue to type without looking at my screen, but this does not help me
during a remote support session.
I believe the lack of any light for the spacebar comes from the fact
that the same LED layout is used on the black version of the keyboard and on
the white version. I’m using the
white version where most of the keys are translucent so the entire surface
of the each key appears to illuminate.
On the black version, however, the keys are etched with their
letters, numbers, or symbols so that the light shines through the etching
only. Since the spacebar has nothing etched on
it, they decided not to place any LEDs under it. While it looks fine one the black
version, it does make the white version appear a bit odd, especially when
all the other keys are lit.
The very top row of keys
(Esc, Color Control, F1-F12, Insert, Print Screen, and Pause/Break) are
made of a hard, solid plastic so these keys do not illuminate either.
In reality, this does not bother me very much since I rarely use
those keys, and they also have a fairly nice “click” to them so it is fairly
obvious if they have been pressed hard enough.
This is more a feature I’d like to see rather
than a fault, but I’d like to see them implement a way to keep the “CAPS
LOCK” key lit in in “Spark” mode if that key has been turned on.
Overall, I really like this
keyboard and I’d give it a score of 8 out of 10, and I especially recommend it
to anyone that needs feedback in order to type accurately.