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Coolgreen Fold-2000 Foldable Keyboard
There seems to be a bit of a trend for flexible keyboards lately.
Personally, I don't see the big deal. Have you ever opened up your keyboard? It's just a very flexible membrane in a hard plastic shell. Take that membrane and wrap it in a rubber shell, and you have a flexible keyboard. Of course, the "niche factor" of doing this often yields a higher price than your $10 Mitsumi.
Flexible keyboards will flex (thus the name), are spill resistant, dust resistant, are very quiet and look pretty groovy. But typically a flexible keyboard leaves the user with a feel far detached from that of a regular keyboard.
The most common unit on the market of flexible keyboards is the one often sold as simply the "Smart Flexible Keyboard". Certainly, the "Smart" keyboard has its advantages, but one of the biggest complaints of it is its complete lack of keyboard feedback.
I wanted to see if there was an alternative to the "Smart" keyboard, so I did some poking around. I found the "Coolgreen (http://www.coolgreen.co.jp) FOLD-2000" unit at TCWO.COM (Click here) for only $29. The price blew me away since the "Smart" keyboard was found about the web for $99 or more, so I decided to pick one up.
I received the keyboard and opened it up. One of the very first things I noticed was that the keys are significantly raised compared to other flexible keyboards. The FOLD-2000 has a standard key pitch of 19mm and a key travel of 3.5mm. Certainly, this makes the keyboard harder to clean with a cloth, but because the keyboard is waterproof, a quick rinse takes care of any java that may spill onto the keyboard.
The characters on the keys seem to be quite durable in that the characters are not actually printed on the key, but rather UNDER the key. Since the membrane is actually clear, the letters, numbers, etc are printed on plastic pieces that are underneath the actual surface of the keyboard.
The feedback in the keys is surprisingly decent. While touch-typing at a fast rate, I occasionally missed keys that were punched with my pinky finger, but knew as soon as I punched the key that I had missed it because I didn't feel the key push down and bounce back up like a keyboard normally does. I was hesitant that to push harder, however, because the keyboard would slide across the keyboard tray. A solution to this is simple. A bit of the no skid material used under throw rugs or in toolboxes helps, but takes away from its portability.
Thinking that the problems that I had with the keyboard may be some sort of error between the keyboard and the chair, I volunteered my wife to use the keyboard for the entire day. This only proved the theory that women can have a firm, but delicate touch and men are just barbarians. Her significantly smaller fingers managed to nail every single keystroke without a flaw, and although the keyboard did slip a little, it did not move the keyboard over enough to the point where her fingers were no longer on the home row keys.
So how would this keyboard be for LAN parties? It makes perfect sense to me. Your LAN game case has a handle on it, so why not a keyboard you can just roll up and take with you? I fired up Q3A, and with the fingers of my left had clumped over the arrow keys and my right hand over my mouse, I decided to frag a few rounds.
You know what? I LIKE IT! Because the keyboard's layout is that of any other keyboard that has a sleep, wake up and power button; my delete, end and page down buttons were closer to the arrow keys. The feedback was what it needed to be, and it was completely quiet. Strife, crouch, switch weapon…. the FOLD-2000 didn't miss a single keystroke.
Key layout is typical, but some things to notice is that the space bar is cut up into three separate keys, and the left shift key is two separate small keys. My guess is that this is to improve the fold-ability of the keyboard.
One thing that doesn't improve the fold-ability of the FOLD-2000 is the placement of the box that houses all of the electronics of the keyboard. The "Smart" flexible keyboard is actually smarter simply because this unit on that keyboard is along the side of the keyboard. One merely rolls up the keyboard starting at one end and working the way to the other. The FOLD-2000 box is in the traditional position in the upper right hand corner of the keyboard and is far from foldable. The diameter of your folded up keyboard cannot be smaller that the 3.5 inches that the width of this box happens to be.
In conclusion, I have to recommend the Fold-2000 overall. Both my wife and I ended up thinking the keyboard worked a lot better than it looked like it was going to. The portability is not the best, but it's still there. It has every feature that a flexible keyboard should have, and the keys actually have feedback! At $29, it's a great buy too. On a SystemLogical scale of 1 to 10, I can give this keyboard a 9.
Rating: 9/10 SystemLogistics
Update: I have been asked by several friends that have come over to my house, used the FOLD-2000 on my PC and have liked it, how many colors does it come in. Actually, the keyboard on TCWO's website was a sea foam green and my unit was blue. Coolgreen shows this keyboard in 5 different colors. I contacted TCWO about the "discrepancy" and there doesn't seem to be any additional colors available from them. I did some looking on the internet for the Coolgreen keyboard, and it didn't take long to find other stores that sold it in a multitude of colors. But, these places were selling the keyboard for $35 or more as opposed to TCWO's price of $29. If blue works for you, and you want to save $6, TCWO is your place for the Coolgreen FOLD-2000. If you want Purple or Green, it seems for now that you may have to do some shopping until TCWO starts to stock other colors (hint, hint).
Re-Printed From SLCentral