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EFO iPazzPort Review

EFO iPazzPortLiving room computers seem like a great idea until we start thinking about the bulky keyboard and lonely mouse sitting on the coffee table. Windows Media Center and Mac Front Row present a partial controller solution by way of a remote control, but that only goes so far. What happens when you want to fire up a web page or write an email?

EFO iPazzPort: What is it?

We reviewed the EFO iPassport last year, which was the predecessor to the newer and subtly renamed iPazzPort. We liked the overall concept of the iPassport, especially for the HTPC market, although we did have some reservations around the look and feel of the device as well as some hopes for version 2.0.

As a refresher in case you haven’t read or are too darn lazy to read our iPassport review, the device was a backlit and wireless thumb-board with trackpad. It offered the essential functionality of a keyboard and mouse combo in a small, easily portable frame.

At first glance the iPazzPort looks remarkably similar to the iPassport. Once you look a bit closer though there are changes to the key placement, trackpad and transmission technology which has switched from RF to Bluetooth.  There’s also now a newer iPazzPort which we’ve reviewed here.

EFO iPazzPort: In use

The change to Bluetooth certainly improves signal reliability, and as a bonus the tiny supplied Bluetooth dongle is a useful thing to have around. For example I was able to use it to drive both the iPazzPort and a set of Bluetooth headphones simultaneously.  I did notice that the responsiveness of the iPazzPort reduced occasionally when its Bluetooth dongle was driving more than one device. That’s kind of acceptable since buyers of a wireless keyboard probably don’t expect the transmitter to work with other devices apart from the keyboard it’s packaged with.

One of my issues with the original iPassport was the lack of scrolling on the trackpad. EFO has now added this essential feature to the iPazzPort, which is great. The scrolling works fine, just like on a typical laptop. For the next version it would be great to see a multitouch trackpad on the iPazzPort to enable two finger actions and other gestures.

EFO has also relocated many of the key characters on the iPazzPort. Numbers are now directly accessible with needing a secondary key press and overall I prefer the key configuration the this version.

The excellent backlighting is still present in the iPazzPort, which makes the controller perfect for dark environments.

However I still find the overall form of the iPazzPort to be more difficult to type on than a typical BlackBerry. I think the reason is because it is a very flat device and slightly wider than ideal for a thumb board.

Ideally I’d actually love EFO to take something like one of the larger BlackBerrys, say the size of a Bold 9000, put a trackball where the screen is and place the left and right buttons where the call buttons normally live. Portrait smartphones are a great size for quick typing because people are now very familiar with using them. So replicating this in the living room seems like a plausible idea.

Since the iPazzPort is a Bluetooth keyboard it should also work with the Apple iPad although I haven’t tried it with the iPad yet. The trackpad won’t work but if the keyboard does then the iPazzPort could be a handy solution for iPad owners who have an iPad table stand and need a more portable hardware keyboard than the Apple’s iPad dock keyboard.

EFO iPazzPort: The perfect HTPC controller?

Overall as with its predecessor the iPassport, the iPazzPort remains a very useful living room controller whose Bluetooth, trackpad and key position improvements increase its convenience. There are still some ergonomic and design issues, which may deter fast typists and design purists, however I don’t know of any competing products which combine the iPazzPort’s price and functionality into such a tiny package.

Click here to go to the product page for the EFO iPazzPort.

Neil Berman

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theonbutton.com

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Apr 19, 2010 - Posted by | Computing, Hardware, Reviews | , , ,

2 Comments »

  1. […] to see how this HTPC keyboard/trackpad combo controller has developed over the last year.  In my review of the version 2 iPazzPort, I had some lingering questions about the typing experience and said “…I’d actually […]

    Pingback by EFO iPazzPort V3 review « theONbutton | Aug 19, 2010 | Reply

  2. […] to see how this HTPC keyboard/trackpad combo controller has developed over the past year.  In my review of the version 2 iPazzPort, I had some lingering questions about the typing experience and said that “…I’d […]

    Pingback by EFO iPazzPort V3 review « theONbutton | Aug 19, 2010 | Reply


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