VisionTek CandyBoard Review

Author: Chris Ledenican
Editor: Howard Ha
Publish Date: Tuesday, October 5th, 2010
Originally Published on Neoseeker (http://www.neoseeker.com)
Article Link: http://www.neoseeker.com/Articles/Hardware/Reviews/visiontek_candyboard/
Copyright Neo Era Media, Inc. - please do not redistribute or use for commercial purposes.

Today we are going to be looking at the truly unique VisionTek CandyBoard, which is an all-in-one device that integrates a slimmed down QWERTY keyboard with a touchpad and laser pointer to create a truly innovative keyboard with multiple functions. With all that is integrated into this product it will be ideal for many types of use, but perhaps the biggest beneficiaries will be those that use their PCs in a home theater setup. This is due to the CandyBoard removing the need for a cumbersome mouse and keyboard setup, which should make using a PC outside of a desktop area more comfortable, easier and enjoyable. Also, since the CandyBoard is roughly the same size as a candy bar (which is where the product derives its name) it will easily fit in and complement any remote control already in use.

Along with the keyboard, touchpad and laser pointer, the CandyBoard also has a built-in backlight that allows the keys to be visible in any low light situation and works with devices ranging from PCs to current generation gaming consoles.

In a market where standard designs are usually only altered in terms of appearance, VisionTek has taken a fresh look at the regular keyboard and made changes that could greatly enhance its use for certain market segments. So, if you’re looking for an all-in-one solution for your gaming system or home theater PC, read on to see if the CandyBoard is right for you.

Specifications:

 
 
 
 
Supported Environments
 
·         Windows 2000,Windows XP, Windows Vista ,Windows CE, Windows 7
·         Linux(Debian-3.1,Redhat-9.0 Ubuntu-8.10 Fedora-7.0 tested)
·         Microsoft Xbox 360 (*may require firmware update)
·         Sony PS3*  (*may require firmware update)
Dimensions:
5.8" x  2.25" x .25"

The packaging of the VisionTek CandyBoard is roughly the same size as a checkbook box and even opens in the same manner. On the front panel is an image of the CandyBoard at its actual size and a listing of which operating systems and gaming consoles support the device.

The back of the packaging has another image of the keyboard, but this time it is an angled shot that highlights the CandyBoard's LED backlight. Surrounding the image of the keyboard are the features such as the device's innovative touch-pad, rechargeable Li-ion battery and how it is perfect for home theater use. The back also lists that the CandyBoard also comes with a one-year warranty.

The CandyBoard comes packaged on a plastic liner and wrapped in a clear plastic bag.

Included accessories consist only of a manual and a USB cable used to charge the keyboard when the battery power is low.

Since the CandyBoard is a plug-and-play keyboard, no device driver software is needed and it is also widely supported by multiple operating systems and devices. The keyboard will work with the following platforms; Windows 2000,Windows XP, Windows Vista,Windows CE, Windows 7, Linux (Debian-3.1,Redhat-9.0 Ubuntu-8.10 Fedora-7.0 tested), and the Microsoft Xbox 360 and Sony PS3 consoles.

The CandyBoard is a black device with measurements of 5.8" x  2.25" x .25"  that integrates a 69 key QWERTY keyboard with an innovative touch-pad to create a small all-in-one product for anyone using a home theater PC or current generation console (minus the Wii). It's use in a home theater setup are very evident and even the shape and size are similar to standard remotes, so it should fit right in with your other remote controls.

The back of the CandyBoard is for the most part very plain, but there is a product sticker found on the right side and a listing of the three main features found at the bottom.

The CandyBoard uses a slimmed down QWERTY keyboard. There are a total of 69 keys throughout the device that each have a slightly raised surface to ensure the keys are easy to press. Since the CandyBoard has fewer keys than a standard keyboard, there are some special commands needed to use more advanced functions. These are actually taken care of via the Fn (function) key at the bottom left of the keyboard. When held, the Function key allows the user to access the buttons highlighted in blue.

The CandyBoard has a small square touchpad that works in the same manner as those found on laptops. The touchpad can be used in both a horizontal and vertical position, so it can be changed to be best suited for the way the CandyBoard is being held. Below the touchpad is a directional pad that can be used in place of the touchpad, as well as two buttons on each side.

On the side of the Candybaord is a small rectangular button that when pressed actives the laser pointer that then projects out of the device through light in front of the touchpad.

The upper left hand side of the CandyBoard has a small switch to power on the device and four lights to indicate the status of the product. The lights from top to bottom indicate the CandyBoard's RF communications, charging status, battery capacity and current caps setting.

The USB dongle is found inside of the CandyBoard and slides out for easy access. The dongle uses a 2.4GHz wireless frequency and is compatible with a PC, PS3 and the Xbox 360.

The CandyBoard has a LED backlight which makes all the keys visible even when in a low light environment.

The small size of the CandyBoard allows it to easily and comfortably fit into your hands and in my case all keys were all well within reach.

After using the VisionTek CandyBoard for a few weeks, I can say without hesitation that this is a very innovative device that goes a long way to address the issues posed by a standard keyboard and mouse in a home theater setup. Not only does it have a 69 key QWERTY keyboard that fits in the palm of your hands, but it also has an easy to use touchpad and a laser pointer. While I have to admit I had little use for the laser pointer the touchpad was extremely useful and since it is all-in-one using it with my home theater PC made the overall experience easier and more enjoyable.

Additionally, all of the features integrated into the CandyBoard worked extremely well. The LED backlight perfectly lit the keys which allowed the device to be used even in a room with dim lighting. Also, the ability to adjust the touchpad’s directional sensitivity was a very nice feature as it allowed the pad to be comfortably used regardless of how one is holding the CandyBoard.

Other benefits included the ability to use the CandyBoard with a PS3 and Xbox 360. While the device might not be suitable for the majority of games on the market, it could be great for easier chat and could also be a good option for console MMORPGs.

So, for the most part the CandyBoard is an amazing product that greatly enhances home theater PC use, but there were two issues I had with the device. The first is that the touchpad has a very low sensitivity and requires multiple strokes to fully move the cursor across the screen. This occurred even when the pointer speed was set to the maximum level in the mouse properties menu. However, when the pointer speed was set to fast, the movement was greatly improved. The other issue though is one that ultimately hurts the overall appeal of the CandyBoard. The same product under a different name can be found for far less than what the CandyBoard retails for. The other product is called the Rii Mini,  which retails for around the $50 mark whereas the VisionTek CandyBoard is sold for around $75. Looking over the two devices showed no distinguishable differences, so the higher premium appears be brand specific.

Other than the price difference between the CandyBoard and Rii Mini, this is a great product that is perfectly suited for home theater use. If you have been looking for a means to eliminate the need for a large and cumbersome mouse and keyboard for your home theater setup, this could be a great option.

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