Chances are your notebook's touchpad is worn from overuse, and typing on its keyboard feels more cramped than if you were sitting in the overhead compartment of an airplane. Kensington's SlimBlade Media Notebook Set, which includes an external keyboard, mouse, and number pad, promises to ease these problems at an affordable price. Kensington was a bit too focused on keeping this wireless solution small and thin, rather than ergonomic and comfortable, but it's a decent bet for those who want to save space.
Sleek Design (Maybe Too Sleek)
SlimBlade is an apt name for Kensington's new line, as it successfully cuts down the size of a peripheral keyboard and mouse to fit easily on a cluttered desk. Measuring 13.3 x 6 x 0.8 inches, the keyboard is as thin as an issue of People magazine, and at 1.6 pounds it is light enough to tote with you on business trips. It comes with a detachable 17-key number pad that you can affix to either side of the keyboard, using a press-in rubber tab and magnets near the top and bottom.
The keyboard itself is spacious, and the flat keys are soft to the touch, but they still feel as though they belong on a notebook. Aside from the number pad and five hot keys, the keyboard is free of extras. It has no volume adjustment, no connection button for the RF adapter, and no feet on the bottom to adjust the typing angle. Propping up the keyboard with Post-it notepads improved our wrists' position, but we still found it uncomfortable. An optional media remote--available for $20--makes up for the lack of media and volume controls.
Test-Driving the Mouse
For a traveling mouse, the SlimBlade is okay. It's a bit flat for our tastes, and lacks any forward or back controls for Web surfing, but we like that its long shape forces you to raise your wrists off of your desk. The tiny USB dongle, which can be stored inside the mouse when not in use, provides the wireless signal for the mouse, keyboard, and number pad, and works from up to 30 feet away. The mouse is comfortable and has a rubber edge.
We liked the BlackBerry Pearl-esque trackball on the mouse, which replaces the traditional wheel; it was easy to scroll Web pages vertically and horizontally. The best part about the mouse is that you can throw it into a laptop bag, and quickly connect it to any notebook. After we plugged the dongle into a Dell XPS, the mouse and keyboard worked instantly, although installing the included Kensington drivers provides greater control.
The SlimBlade Media Notebook Set offers reliable typing and cursor control along with portability. We prefer the external keyboards and mice offered by Logitech, but Kensington has the portability aspect nailed for road warriors. You might just want to try it out before you buy.
Sandio 3D Game O2 Mouse Review
This innovative mouse offers a new way to play the latest games but falls short on ease of use.
Razer Lachesis Review
This mouse's customization features make it a must-have for gamers.
Wolfking Warrior XXtreme Review
King's latest offering makes another attempt to frag the QWERTY keyboard.