New Keyboards Conserve Space and Time

Leaving no avenue of efficiency unexplored, IBM has introduced new technology to facilitate desktop management where it all begins - the keyboard.

In addition to providing easy access to the Internet and other applications, both the new TrackPoint and Rapid Access keyboards are also designed to conserve on space and user effort. The TrackPoint Keyboard may be of particular use to the midrange market due to its integrated pointing device and its capability to be used with IBM's Network Stations.

The TrackPoint keyboard's most prolific feature is its support for TrackPoint IV technology, which enables the user to scroll in any direction without removing their hands from the keyboard. The new keyboard also frees desktop space because its integrated pointing device does not require a peripheral mouse, explains Bob Crigler, business-line manager for IBM input devices. The TrackPoint Keyboard applies ThinkPad technology to a normal-size keyboard, he says.

According to IBM research, use of an integrated pointing device improves input efficiency by 20 percent over a traditional mouse configuration, Crigler points out. As an all-in-one device the keyboard takes up less room on the desktop, making it ideal as a server attach item, he adds.

Use of the TrackPoint Keyboard with desktops like the Network Station is "something IBM may look at in the future, particularly with the Series 300 and 1000," according to an IBM spokeswoman. "It's an interesting idea," she says, adding that IBM has not done much research concerning the combination of these two technologies to date.

Priced at approximately $109, the TrackPoint Keyboard features two mouse buttons below the space bar, a PS/2 port for connecting an additional pointing device and mouse drivers that support using the TrackPoint IV for scrolling, press-to-select and magnification functions.

While the Rapid Access Keyboard is not a candidate for use with IBM's line of Network Stations, the device offers a customizable keyboard with one-touch access to the Internet, applications, audio CD controls, power management and help screens. The Rapid Access Keyboard - priced at $49 - requires Microsoft Windows 95 or 98 and a CD-ROM drive.