Review of the Manhattan Roll-Up Keyboard

There are a few things that can instantly cut one’s typing speed in half: Losing the use of a hand, spilling soda on the keyboard, or using the Manhattan True-Touch Roll-up Keyboard can impair one’s typing and bring about a good deal of regret. Essentially a standard keyboard’s innards, wrapped in silicon rather than hard plastic, the Manhattan keyboard is very mushy and difficult to use.

That’s not to say the roll up keyboard is all bad. It’s very portable when rolled up, and easy to fit even in a small handbag. Spills, dust, and food are kept out, thanks to the silicon wrapping; rinsing the keyboard off with water is harmless, and it can take knocks that would crack a regular keyboard’s plastic casing. It’s a great accessory for kids to use, as parents don’t need to worry about it becoming damaged even in irresponsible hands.

Armed with an unusually large number of hot-keys for everything from CD playback to Web navigation, many common computer uses can be controlled, with one button, from the keyboard alone. It seems a peace offering to typists, reducing the need to use two-button commands or reach over to the mouse.

It also looks really interesting. Light blue and white, the roll up keyboard is very attractive and unique; it rarely fails to grab the attention of people around it. LAN party-goers and gamers will love the lighter, more novel alternative to standard keyboards, and for gaming the roll up keyboard is more than sufficient.

Unfortunately, that’s where the benefits of this keyboard end and the disadvantages become glaring. Again, typing becomes laborious; the standard plastic keys have been replaced with thin plastic squares, forcing the user to exert a lot of force to make the keys respond. The Space bar and left Shift key have been broken up into five and two individual keys, respectively. That much is fine if one’s usual Space or Shift stroke lands directly where the keys are located, but if not, it requires several attempts before the keys even respond correctly.

And unless the keyboard is completely flat (leaving it rolled up for too long will make this difficult), pressing a key may also press an adjacent key’s “sensor,” forcing the user to delete the two characters and try again at least once.

It’s a great accessory for LAN parties and pure gamers, but the roll up keyboard is a typist’s worst nightmare. The keys are incredibly mushy, and with the actual keys replaced with thin plastic squares, it takes great effort to even reach half one’s usual typing speed.

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