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Macally iceKey USB Slim Keyboard

Macally iceKey
My favorite Christmas present this year is the Macally iceKey keyboard. It's a full-size 108 key USB keyboard that has laptop-style scissor key switches rather than the standard type of keys normally used with desktop computers. Some people prefer the loud clickety-clack of standard keyboards, but as someone who's used a PowerBook almost exclusively for the past year, moving to such a keyboard was not something I relished when I recently took a new job. Luckily, I stumbled upon a webpage extolling the virtues of Macally's iceKey. I added it to my Amazon Wish List and a magical wish-granting elf wrapped it up and put it under the Christmas tree.

My only concern was that the iceKey was designed to be used with a Mac and my new job involved primarily a Windows XP machine with a smattering of Linux work sprinkled in. My concerns were unfounded, though, as the iceKey works flawlessly—for my purposes—with my Windows computer. I haven't had the need to use it with my Linux server; however, I have read reports that it will work there as well.

There are, though, a few small idiosyncrasies that may dissuade other possible Windows-based users from plugging in an iceKey. First of all, there are several keys that do not function in a Windows environment: volume controls and an eject button. On a Mac, these would mirror the functionality of the same keys that appear on my PowerBook keyboard. However, the drivers that are provided with iceKey are Mac-only, so they remain unused when plugged into a Windows machine.

Also, as is standard on Mac keyboards, the left Option key (function as Alt) is directly to the right of the Ctrl key and to the left of the Command key (functioning as the Windows key). This differs from a standard Windows keyboard, which has Ctrl, Windows and Alt, in that order. It was not a big deal to me, coming from a Mac world, but the different layout could take some getting used to for an exclusive Windows user.

Also a non-issue for me is the lack of a Print Screen key. There may be a work around for that, but as someone who has pressed that key approximately 5 times in the past 15 years, it hasn't really concerned me. Similarly, the Scroll Lock and Pause keys are missing. These three keys have been replaced by F13, F14 and F15 keys, which may or may not be of use to some users. Additionally, a key labeled "Help" is in the position of the standard Insert key; under Windows, however, it does function as the Insert key.

That all said, this keyboard is a joy to use. Typing on it is smooth and quiet and the keys are very responsive. The spacebar, however, feels a bit looser than the other keys and makes a bit more noise when pressed, but it is still much quieter than a standard desktop keyboard. Additionally, there are two USB ports on the keyboard itself, potentially keeping someone from crawling under their desk to plug in their iPod.

I know there are folks out there who seek out ancient IBM keyboards specifically for their stiff and loud action, but I personally prefer my keyboards to make as little noise as possible and to take as little work as possible to actually type. This keyboard is a perfect fit for both of those requirements. If you are a Windows user and can handle the slightly different key layout, the Macally iceKey should be on your Amazon Wish List if it's not already on your desk.

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