Computer keyboards aren’t often the recipients of huge development budgets, but Microsoft’s Media Centre-friendly Entertainment 8000 is one of the few exceptions.
It may sound like the fun-loving brother of the T-1000, but with stacks of of clever, concealed gadgetry, it’s more like Jimmy Savile’s chair crossed with Blofeld’s control room.
There are volume and channel rockers, media buttons and a quick zoom for exploding hard to read text on a TV panel. There’s a Back shortcut, a Media Centre shortcut, a powered four port USB hub, touch sensitive F-keys, backlighting and a high definition laser mouse.
A dock also magnetically attaches itself to the keyboard to provide juice, but best of all is the fingertip track pad. At the flick of a switch, this becomes a four-way thumb pad for navigating the Media Centre home screen accurately.
The hidden features are even more techno-chic. Like all Bluetooth keyboards the Entertainment 8000 powers down to conserve batteries when not in use, but a proximity sensor turns it back on just before you pick it up, so you don’t have to push a key to start typing.
The fact that it also lights up when you place your palm half an inch away may be incidental, but it’s very cool.
There are a few things that prevent the Entertainment 8000 from winning out over rivals like the Logitech DiNovo.
For a start, the DiNovo is a lot more versatile. The curving keys of the 8000 are comfy, even if you don’t like ergonomic boards, but the lack of height adjustment means this isn’t at home on the desktop at all.
Review continues after the break…
More importantly, the DiNovo has more style. Microsoft’s keyboard was supposed to be built in brushed aluminium, but in truth the finish lacks elegance. It’s plasticky and fragile, and the dock is too big to discretely house, making a joke of the price tag and reminding us of the charmless chintz and fake gold veneer of the Palladium.
The Entertainment 8000 is so nearly the last word in complete computer control that it makes us angry. Here’s hoping there’s a special edition that does the design justice.