If your cord-cluttered desktop is starting to resemble a snakepit, the Verbatim TuneBoard will help you eliminate at least some of the wires. This sleek and sexy $70 keyboard features built-in speakers that do an adequate job of replacing run-of-the-mill desktop speakers, plus playback controls that work with iTunes. It has some neat lighting effects, too.
Slick Design, Excellent Responsive Keys
Measuring 19.0 x 8.2 x 1.7 inches and weighing 3.2 pounds, the $70 TuneBoard is roughly the size of a traditional keyboard and features an eye-catching glossy finish. Unfortunately, that means the TuneBoard is a fingerprint magnet--but nothing a cloth can't wipe away.
Headphone and mic jacks are integrated into the back of the panel, which enabled us to chat with friends in Skype when we plugged in a headset and a M-Audio Producer USB microphone. The keyboard did unclutter our desk somewhat; instead of several wires from speakers winding their way around, we had a single USB cable that stretched from the keyboard to our notebook.
The TuneBoard features well-spaced, responsive keys, and a space bar that practically jumps up to meet your thumbs. The keyboard lacks Print Screen, Scroll Lock, and Num Lock (similar to a standard Apple keyboard) but has a number pad on the right side. Above it are Skip, Play/Pause, and Eject buttons that let us control media within iTunes as easily as we could with our mouse.
Integrated Stereo Speakers, Additional Multimedia Keys
What makes the TuneBoard special are the two speakers, concealed under a grille that runs the length of the keyboard along the top, and is angled at approximately 45 degrees. Between the speakers are five circular buttons, the most prominent of which is the bass boost. Flanking it are smaller buttons for volume, mute, and backlighting. Turning on the backlight illuminates various parts of the keyboard deck, as well as the mute key and the volume buttons.
The TuneBoard's speakers churned out loud, clear sound when we fired up MP3s from The Dirtbombs' Ultraglide In Black album. Audio quality was on a par with a typical notebook. The large, round bass-boost key (highlighted by a blue backlight when pressed), offered an additional hint of low-end thump, but nothing that would replace a speaker and subwoofer setup.
If you're expecting amazing audio from the Vertabim TuneBoard for Mac, you'll be disappointed. Still, if you don't mind the $70 price tag, it's a beaut of a keyboard that does what it was designed to do: eliminate clutter from the desktop and crank out satisfactory sound.