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Ultra GT Compact Keyboard Suite
March 31, 2005
Author: Geno Manufacturer: Gyration
Department: HTPC-SFF Model: GT Compact Keyboard Suite
Article Type: Review Time Spent: 3 months
 
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Introduction




As any long time HTPC user can tell you, the biggest problem has been controlling the system from the couch. There are several remotes on the market that let you use most common TV functions, but one of the nicer aspects of building your own HTPC setup is that you also get a full fledged PC. You have a system that can tune in TV, act as a PVR to record all your shows to a hard drive, play music, surf the web, retrieve E-mail and even do some gaming ...if only there were a way to do those things from the couch. Enter the Gyration Ultra GT Compact Keyboard Suite. I have spent months with this remarkable set up and I can say without question that there is no better alternative for HTPC users. The entire system functions as advertised, and in some cases even better. Finally a means of control for my HTPC setup that really works for everything, not just the TV portion.
The Box


Included are the compact 88 key keyboard, the Gyration mouse, a recharging cradle for the mouse, a USB powered receiver, 4 AA batteries, the Gyrotools CD and instructions. I would like to make my usual complaint here about tamper proof packaging that require the jaws of life to open. I HATE it. If my 68 year old mother has trouble opening the packaging, it is too hard to open. It is supposed to prevent theft etc. I know, but I was still short some batteries, so the wrestling was pointless. It does, however, get you the goods unharmed so I wont score it a ZERO.


Section Score: 5 out of 10


The Receiver


It is small, unobtrusive, and easy to use. Words that will warm the heart of any HTPC user I am sure. Plug the 5 foot USB cable into an available USB port, raise the little antenna, press and hold the learn button located on top for a few seconds. Then press the teach button located on the keyboard so they can make a connection and repeat with the teach button located on the bottom of the mouse, and you're in business. There is no required software to install and nothing to have running in the background hogging system resources. You can install the GyroTools software if you want the added functionality. Additionally, you can change RF channels if you want to run more than one unit in the same house or office. I run 2 in the house without any problem. Keep in mind that these products have a lot of power and range, unlike your typical wireless keyboard and mouse, so the ability to change RF is very handy. I was also able to run the mouse on my HTPC in addition to a local mouse also attached to the PC. This is nice when your HTPC doubles as a traditional work machine. You can sit down, grab the local mouse, and do your thing without having to go out to the living room and grab the wireless Gyro mouse.


Section Score: 10 out of 10


The Keyboard


I know the gyration in air ability of the mouse gets a lot of attention, but the keyboard is also an amazing little marvel unto itself. It is, as advertised, very compact. If you work all day at a desktop workstation typing letters and such, it might not be your first choice, although I do use mine for that, and I love it. The keys have a wonderful spring that is quiet yet solid. The media buttons are clearly labeled and unobtrusive. All the usual suspects can be found for controlling media players like volume up/down, play/pause and so forth. The other buttons for web surfing and opening mail are also present. In addition to the compact size and great feel of the keys, the range is quite good. The advertised range is 30 feet, but I am able to use them at 50 feet without issue. Your mileage may vary, but I feel confident that 30 feet is the minimum you would get depending on walls and other obstacles in your home. It looks good sitting on a couch or coffee table also. I did add a 3 inch by 10 inch piece of black felt to the bottom to keep it from sliding off my lap if I dozed off. It also keeps it on the couch, and is  simple to apply if you use some spray-on adhesive. Spray the felt-NOT the keyboard. Before the addition of the felt, the keyboard did take numerous trips to the floor, all without incident or breakage. The solidly built quality is more than skin deep.

If there is one problem, it would be the battery life. The provided batteries lasted about 10 days under heavy 12 hour a day use in games and working conditions, and they were not what I would call quality batteries. The second set of high end AAA's lasted just over 2 weeks. Keep in mind that I used the keyboard HARD during that time, with at least one key mashed down almost constantly--think games and W A S D. The transmitter does deliver the distance and as a result, when the batteries go, they die without warning. I spent 10 bucks on rechargable AAA's and it is a non-issue at this point. I have a second unit that is used at the couch exclusively for my HTPC, and the batteries last much longer. Six weeks at least under the lighter loads. I understand that the ability to use the products at such great distances with such reliability does require some power, but at a retail price of U.S. $119.95 I think rechargable batteries should be included.


Section Score: 10 out of 10


 
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