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Germ-free wireless keyboard & mouse combo reviewed

First INQpressions A real AV keyboard, and not computer viruses
Fri Dec 29 2006, 17:36
EVERY PC, especially one running any flavour of Micro$oft Windoze, should/needs to/ must have a comprehensive anti-virus program, among other defensive armoury.

In fact, the saying goes that Windows itself is the world's biggest virus - abusing your PC resources, risking data loss, exposing your private info to the outsiders, and generally reducing the productivity. No wonder Bill Gate$ "software" was and is so greatly supported by various governments, should we say?

How about the real, non computer, viruses and other germs? Ever felt like getting out of a stuffy Net cafe somewhere, seeing others cough and sneeze into their keyboards, and then holding the mice with hands still wet with all the germ cocktails? Think your office is safe? That office desk may harbour 400 times more germs than an average toilet seat, according to a recent Univ of Arizona survey (no, I don't have that web page). Those germs are getting worse and, well, while a computer virus can take down a PC, some real viruses can take down a life: remember the Spanish Flu in 1918, or the brand new bird flu around my Far East area about now?


Someone (hopefully) came with an answer: Iogear has just announced its anti-germ wireless keyboard & mouse combo. What's the big deal? Well, from the outside it looks like any high end combo of that sort: large slim black-silver keyboard (unusually stylish in its Twiggy-like ultra thin appearance) with a matching mouse, and a USB-based wireless receiver & recharge unit. Plenty of usual hot keys there, too. What differentiates it is the black portion of that surface - a nanotechnology particle coating that, supposedly, helps kill a large number of various viruses, bacteria and funguses (not funghi porcini, which I like in my ravioli). That's great news, I thought.

The supposedly self-cleaning nanocoating is made of titanium oxide and silver nanoparticles, claimed to neutralise germs with 99% efficiency. How? The titanium oxide attracts water and oxygen molecules, giving off free oxygen ions. These ions are supposed to restrain and eliminate the parasites while creating (??) water, carbon and oxygen molecules for self cleaning.

Anyway, I installed the stuff on two systems, one Core 2 Duo desktop PC, and my working Core Duo notebook. The installation was simple: fit in the batteries into the devices, connect the USB-based recharger/receiver, and install the drivers as usual. It really did work up to its claimed long 10 metre (33 feet) range, in fact I managed to operate through an open door in another room at around 11 metres.

The rubberised yet not too sensitive keys with shallow travel feel a bit too much like notebook keyboard ones, and, in a weird but sentimental way, remind me of a long-gone machine called Sinclair QL (as Quantum Leap), the British-made, first 'mainstream' 32-bit capable system some 20 years ago (OK, it used el cheapo Motorola 68008 with 8-bit data bus, but still it had 32-bit data registers at least). Yes, this keyboard recalled my teenage feelings... it felt the same as QL (with a bit of ZX Spectrum rubber flavour to spice it up).

After my visitors - one had a cold - dirtied the keyboard yesterday - and I deliberately exposed it to them, I cleaned it and used it myself to type this on the notebook. Now, let's see if I catch that same cold over the next few days - huh, it would be a pity - it's New Year's Eve coming here too, and Singapore was unusually cold this winter, down to as low as 25 Celsius.

In summary, good to have something that helps you feel more protected against ever-growing germ threat. Can you sue the vendor if you still get sick? Well, of course, Iogear was smart to state a disclaimer right in the box that it can't guarantee that every kind of harmful germs will be neutralised by its coating - so, it is good to have this keyboard, especially during the flu season, but still, do wipe it clean if someone else has been using it and, just in case, still wash your hands... ?


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