AVS Gear Zippy BT-637

Category: Peripherals | Posted on June 23, 2011

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The ($54.99 street) is a equipped with an embedded touchpad. Its target audience is the entertainment enthusiast looking for a “universal remote,” if you will, to control all their devices. It can pair with up to six Bluetooth-enabled devices, including PlayStation 3, and switch between them easily with a press of a button. But a few glitches with the touch buttons and oddities relating to key layout hold it from gaining higher praise.

The Zippy BT-637 measures 1.04 by 7.28 by 14.35 inches (HWD). For most, the keyboard’s design will be hit or miss. Its brushed aluminum palm rest and frame adds a bit of class, but the keys look rather cheap—much like the ones found on the AZiO Wireless RF Keyboard ($69.99 list, 3 stars), which looked like the letters had been stuck on with adhesive. Located directly in the center of the keyboard along the palm rest is a multi-touchpad with the right- and left-click buttons located on either side rather than underneath the touchpad. This orientation is a little awkward when navigating, but is easily remedied by utilizing the touchpad’s one-finger touch to “left click” or three-finger touch to “right click” on items. Other multi-touch features include two-finger scrolling.

The touchpad was spacious enough to browse through Web pages and scroll through documents, but for anything long term you may want to supplement your couch surfing with Logitech’s appropriately named Couch Mouse M515. The Zippy BT-637 typing experience is good; I’m a personal fan of traditional layouts, as opposed to the chiclet-style like on the Apple Wireless Keyboard ($79 direct, 4 stars). Unfortunately, the Enter key is oversized, taking out the \ and | key completely, and the right Shift key has been undersized for the sake of making the arrow keys normal-sized rather than thinning them down.

On the right side of the keyboard are a series of touch buttons that consist of the (turns the touchpad on and off), Home (brings up a browser window or brings you to your designated homepage), , Back, , , , . These were a nice addition, but I found they weren’t very responsive and often took multiple presses for my finger to register.

Along the top of the keyboard are the F1-12 keys that also double as Fn keys that do everything from open your “My Pictures” folder to adjusting volume and control your media (i.e. play/pause and skip).

The keyboard has an on/off switch on its underside, which may help conserve battery life. According to AVS Gear the BT-637 can last up to 2 months on two AA batteries (included in packaging).

The BT-637 connects to devices via Bluetooth, a wireless technology. I was easily able to pair it with two PCs, a PlayStation 3, and my iPad 2. Each of these devices was set to a button, so I could switch to typing on my iPad 2, press a button, and switch to browsing on my PC. You can pair and assign up to 6 devices, which is more than enough.

The AVS Gear Zippy BT-637 offers a great feature set and solid performance, but its glitchy touch buttons, cheap-looking keys, and odd key layout keep it from taking the lead among our home entertainment keyboards. The Logitech diNovo Mini (4.5 stars), the Editors’ Choice in this category, is small and sports an innovative design. That and the fact that it has both wireless USB dongle and Bluetooth connectivity options (increasing its compatibility among older PCs) makes it a valuable asset in the living room. But its $149.99 (direct) price may scare most users away. So for those looking for a solid feature set that won’t break the bank, the Iogear 2.4GHz Wireless On-Lap Keyboard ($74.95 direct, 3.5 stars) is a good choice.

original content by pcmag.com

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