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The groovy blue glow won’t soothe your aching wrists.
On paper, Verbatim’s Tune Board sounds like it coulda been a contender. If Apple’s minimalist, chicklet-style keyboards of late leave you yearning for something more substantial, the Tune Board seems like it might be a decent alternative. And the addition of stereo speakers make the keyboard an attractive option for iTunes addicts or gamers. Unfortunately, the Tune Board misses the mark on the basics, making the extra features pretty much a moot point from the beginning.
The first thing we noticed about the Tune Board is its heft. At well over 3 pounds, the Tune Board will stay put on your desk--a nice change from our regular Apple Aluminum Keyboard, which skates all over our desktop at the slightest provocation. Stereo speakers mounted inside the keyboard are fed power and audio via USB, so there’s no secondary audio cable for speakers. There’s also a blue backlight--with an on/off switch, which we appreciated. In low-light situations, the backlight is useful--although a keyboard this size will probably live on your well-lit desk anyway--rather than being used with a laptop while you’re watching a movie in a darkened room, for example. There’s also a complement of media keys, the same ones Apple offers to control iTunes, and an extra button to kick in the bass boost on the speakers.
Unfortunately, that’s all the good news there is. Despite its ginormous form factor, there’s no USB port on the keyboard for your mouse, forcing you to use a precious second port on your Mac to connect your pointing device--negating any advantage gained by a single USB connection for keyboard and speakers. And then there are the ergonomics. The keyboard itself is rather thick, making typing on the thing without bending our wrists into an unhealthy position totally impossible. To get our wrists in a neutral position, we had to lift them off our work surface nearly 2 inches. A custom wrist rest to match the keyboard’s height would be an easy fix, but Verbatim doesn’t include anything else in the box. After only a few hours of usage, our wrists were begging for a switch back to our regular keyboard. And while the speakers perform OK considering their size, they’re really nothing to write home about. Anyone who’s interested in improving up their Mac’s sound--presumably the Tune Board’s target market--can find better options.