BTC RF Wireless USB Keyboard 9019URF Review




Official product page: BTC 9019URF Wireless Keyboard

PCAlchemy product page

(Thanks to PCAlchemy for providing the BTC unit for evaluation)


date posted: 4/12/05


INTRO:

The BTC RF Wireless Keyboard is marketed as a gaming wireless keyboard, but when push comes to shove it is better suited as an extension of your HTPC than fragging zombies? Is this “gaming” wireless keyboard a hidden gem for the budget minded HTPC & homebrew PVR enthusiast or do you need to pony up for something like a Gyration keyboard for quality couch computing?







PRODUCT INFORMATION/SPECIFICATIONS:



Model: 9019URF

Wireless: Dual channel (255IDs)

Cordless technology: Radio frequency

Frequency: 27 MHz



Number of Keys: 87

Switch activation mechanism: Membrane

Travel distance: 3.5 +/- 0.5 mm

Peak load before make (normal key): 55 +/- 20 g

Keyboard dimension: 461(L) x 186(W) x 42(H) mm

Keyboard weight(including batteries): 0.9 kg

Effective distance: 3 m/9.8'

Battery Life: 1.5 months (4hrs/day)

Input power: 3 Vdc (2 x AA)




Receiver Input power: 5 Vdc, 100 mA (via USB)

Connector: USB connector plugs

Dimension: 85(L) x 64(W) x 34.5(H) mm

Weight: 0.1 kg




INITIAL IMPRESSIONS/PACKAGING



The BTC 9019URF comes with a wireless keyboard, receiver, driver CD, user’s guide,
quick installation guide, and batteries (2 X AA). I’m not a battery brand snob, but I was pleasantly surprised to see the BTC was packaged with Duracell brand batteries instead of generic industrial AA’s. Nice touch on BTC’s part.







BTC 9019URF is made of an attractive black plastic and feels sturdy. It survived several coffee table height drop tests and the accidental foot administered structural integrity tests. It’s made of plastic and certainly not indestructible but seems pretty solid with only a minimal amount of flex. The only part that does not seem as rugged is the top row of Internet & Multimedia buttons. These buttons don’t seem to be of as high a quality as the rest of the keys. The buttons respond fine, they just don’t feel as nice or as solid as the rest of the keyboard.








The BTC 9019URF is pretty compact, and as you might have noticed has built in handle/grips. The keyboard is smaller than a full size keyboard, yet slightly bigger than a laptop keyboard.









PUTTING THE BTC 9019URF THROUGH ITS PACES



The keyboard keys all have a nice feel with a comparable travel and action as say my HP Pavilion ze4800 laptop or my Logitech cordless keyboard. Although it is a compact keyboard it still feels very comfortable to type on with normal sized hands.



A few minor quibbles: I think I’d prefer the Fn (Function) key elsewhere. When touch typing I would sometimes hit the Function key instead of the CTRL key. I’m sure I’ll get used to it. The space bar feels a little different the other keys; it’s “looser” or slightly “mushier” for lack of a better term.






Installation was a breeze. I simply plugged in the USB receiver, threw the AA batteries into the keyboard unit itself, and was up and running. The thumb control stick was automatically recognized as a USB mouse device and I was able to navigate, click, right click, and double click to my hearts content. Like any alternative input device, using the thumb stick to perform regular cursor movement/actions feels a little strange at first but that quickly subsides as you get used to using it.



If you want to take advantage of the Internet & Multimedia buttons or the secondary joystick mode you’ll need to install the software on the included driver CD. It’s easy to switch from “mouse” mode to “usb joystick” mode by simply hitting Fn+F12. The joystick isn’t going to replace any wireless usb gamepads (or UberCade) but for casual occasional gaming (like NES or MAME emulation) it’s alright for some games.




Warrior needs food badly




Initially the thumb stick would get hung up for a second in the maximum down position before returning to center. I suspect it just needed breaking in because it was fine after a little bit of use (a few games of centipede).



When using the BTC wireless keyboard to play games I found that it was more comfortable to hold the keyboard perpendicular as opposed to flat on my lap (like a large gamepad). There’s a couple of other grips that you could use when manipulating the thumbstick with the keyboard in a flat/lap position, depending on your personal preference.











Since this keyboard is RF based, as opposed to IR (which is line of sight), it has a really good range. The box claims a 3-meter range, but I was able to type away from a maximum distance of around 7.5 meters (or 25+ feet). The other benefit of RF is that it can go through walls, although that might seem silly on the surface it’s pretty useful. I can change to the next mp3 on the playlist, hit mute or pause if the phone rings, or test my touch typing skills from the kitchen.



More important than going through walls is the ability of the signal to transverse my coffee table and entertainment center. There was no perceptible lag when typing or navigating menus. I also fired up a Pelican Wireless Xbox controller to try to interfere with the BTC wireless keyboard, but neither wireless device was affected.



SUMMARY



I have found the BTC 9019URF to be an affordable yet very capable wireless keyboard for my HTPC/PVR with an excellent range and overall comfortable feel. In daily usage, it has supplanted the classic silver IR Hauppauge remote that came with the PVR350. It is not going to replace a gamepad for hardcore Halo style gaming, but for HTPC administration, surfing the web, and remote control of PVR software from your couch it works great.



Pro:

• Sleek looking, compact, & fairly sturdy

• excellent wireless range

• two words “cool handles”

• comfortable on the lap and to type with

• very affordable




Cons:

• internet and multimedia buttons not as high quality as rest of the keyboard

• Function key placement slightly annoying

• Not up for hardcore gaming




(Thanks to PCAlchemy for providing the BTC 9019URF wireless keyboard for evaluation they are also helping give away a few BTC 9019URF keyboards to byopvr forum members -- see forum post for details)

This article is from Build Your Own PVR
http://www.byopvr.com/