IOGEAR GKM561R - Features & Usage Impressions

The IOGEAR GKM561R is a wireless keyboard / trackball combo. Using 2x AA batteries, it operates in the 2.4 GHz range and has an advertised range of 33 ft. Since it is a HID-compliant device, it works for PCs (including MCE applications) and game consoles. It is also compatible with some of 'Smart TVs' such as the Samsung ES6500 series. The trackball is on the top right, while the mouse buttons and scroll wheel / middle button are on the left.

The unique feature of the IOGEAR unit is that the cursor speed can be controlled from the keyboard itself. Speeds of 400, 800 and 1200 dpi can be configured for the trackball. The 2.4 GHz spectrum is pretty crowded, and, in order to prevent interference, the unit is capable of performing automatic frequency hopping (with operation in 1 of 78 distinct channels). On the hardware side, we have rubber grips on the underside for slip resistance. There is also a recessed on-off button on the same side. In terms of multimedia buttons, there are 19 keys at the top including volume control and Media Center functions.

An issue with most of the HTPC-oriented keyboards is that the ergonomics make it very difficult to operate them with a single hand. For typical PC usage, it is acceptable to expect both hands to be used to interact. However, in the living room, it is often common to have the device by the side rather than hold it with both hands (particularly, when using it as a replacement for a mouse). In this context, the IOGEAR unit has a drawback, as the mouse buttons are on the left side while the trackball is on the right.

The Return and Backspace keys are much bigger than usual. However, the more grating aspect of the keyboard layout is the asymmetric nature of the arrow keys. The Left key is larger compared to the other three. All in all, it has a very strange keyboard layout that has scope for improvement.

On the positive side, the membrane keys are a pleasure to type on. Easy access to the different DPI options for the trackball movement is definitely an advantage. The trackball's minimal space requirements is an advantage, but the inability of the end-user to clean up the dirt which invariably collects is a minus point. The industrial design of the keyboard is attractive, and the unit is quite solid compared to the Logitech K400.

Introduction SIIG JK-WR0412-S1 - Features & Usage Impressions
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  • owan - Monday, March 3, 2014 - link

    I own a k400r. I wouldn't touch any of the rest of these garbage kb's with a 10 foot pole. Its the smallest (total footprint), lightest, and cheapest, while still having a good layout and integrated touch pad. The only knock on it (in this article) was that its not good for the occasional extended typing session? Who uses their HTPC for even an occasional extended typing session? And even then, why is it a concern when you can just move over a decent full size keyboard?
  • andymcca - Monday, March 3, 2014 - link

    I love my IOGear GKM681R. I believe I bought it for $25
    Similarly priced to the lenovo link above, my batteries last months (>a year?) with auto on/off, it has different mouse buttons for holding it in different positions. It has a track ball, which I find much more ergonomic than touch pads or those awful laptop pencil erasers.
  • rickon66 - Monday, March 3, 2014 - link

    The K400 is often on sale for $19.99.
  • donebu - Monday, March 3, 2014 - link

    I'm just using a cheap usb keyboard for my Windows 8.1 HTPC. I'm trying to decide between these keyboards and would like to see them reviewed:

    Logitech Wireless All-In-One Keyboard TK820 with Built-In Touchpad

    Rapoo Blade E9180P 5GHz Wireless Compact Ultra-slim Keyboard w/Touchpad
  • zlandar - Monday, March 3, 2014 - link

    I would test and verify the range of each unit.

    What a manufacturer advertises and what is reality are not the same thing.
  • Death666Angel - Monday, March 3, 2014 - link

    What would be the point? The only information you can take away from it is that it has a range of x in the reviewers quarters. There is no way to translate that information to your own home.
  • kchilaka - Monday, March 3, 2014 - link

    I use a logitech K400 myself and it works fine except for the position of the shift key and lack of dedicated home and end keys. Two keyboards for extended HTPC I would like to see reviewed are the Logitech TK820 and the Rapo E9180P which has 5GHZ support..
  • drainplugofideas - Monday, March 3, 2014 - link

    I've used the Logitech K400 for a couple years and I LOVE it. I had fooled around with other products such as a usb media center remote control, but the keyboard is by far the most useful part. I briefly thought about buying a smaller, thumb controlled keyboard, but I'm glad I did not because the typing experience on a full sized(ish) keyboard is far superior. I

    In the future, I'd pay more money for a model that had a backlight, better keys, and it would be amazing to include support for a smart hub (something logitech already makes) so it could turn on my TV and switch the input.
  • peterfares - Monday, March 3, 2014 - link

    I really like my Logitech TK820 for my HTPC. To make it perfect it would be backlit and the trackpad drivers would be a little better. As it is I have to disable most of the gestures because they don't work right but they're not really necessary anyways.
  • CSMR - Monday, March 3, 2014 - link

    What do keyboards have to do with HTPCs?
    What HTPC interface makes use of a keyboard?

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