Celluon Laserkey Cl800BT

So you’re wondering what to spend all your Christmas bonus on? Avenir Telecom can help there. 
It has an exclusive on this laser-projected keyboard, a natty piece of technology that no gadget fan should be without. Whether it has practical applications for a broader market is more doubtful.
The Laserkey CL800BT is a chunky little block that stands a not unreasonable 90mm high and projects a keyboard layout using red laser light on to a flat surface (any flat surface) just in front of it. It’s a conventional QWERTY layout for the UK market – no pound sign though – and as well as the usual shifted key positions there’s an extra row of keys for shortcut functions such as email, web and address book buttons.
Reputedly there’s also a mouse function that turns the entire projection into a touchpad complete with left and right mouse buttons, though we couldn’t get that to work.
Nor could we get it to work with Symbian and Blackberry devices as promised: there were no drivers on the accompanying CD, nor on the Celluon website – the manufacturer seems more interested in selling add-on technology to hardware makers rather than to end users, so there’s much talk of developer toolkits and the like. Palm, Pocket PC and Windows Mobile 2003 Smartphones are supported directly, however, and we had the thing working will all of these – in particular, linking to a Palm-based Treo was a doodle. Windows took a bit more effort, though we did get all three versions working within the hour.
Once the Laserkey is talking to your phone (and Bluetooth pairing wasn’t a problem at all), it takes a few minutes to get the hang of typing. The maker claims that the relatively large keys and familiar layout allow for keying speeds of 50wpm or better; in practice you do have to be a bit precise in your finger movements, which means really fast touch-typing is out of the question, but it was definitely a lot faster than say thumb-typing on a mini-keyboard or tapping on a touchscreen. And there is a ‘key sensitivity’ setting in the software which produced a reasonably fast and comfortable keying style without too much difficulty.
What it’s actually for remains debatable, though. Yes, it’s easy to type texts and emails; but they tend to be relatively brief, so setting up the Laserkey seems like overkill. It definitely makes for accurate use of upper-case letters on names, and we managed to write a couple of lengthy Pocket Word documents on an MDA II. Other than that the manufacturer is reportedly promoting its use in environments like hospitals as an alternative to contamination-attracting standard keyboards.
It’s a gas to demo, however, and it looks and feels impressive. Avenir’s RRP is £129.99.
• If you or your customer) can find a suitable application, the Laserkey is a must-have. Otherwise it’s a must-admire.

Height 93mm
Width 40mm
Depth 37mm
approx size 241x106mm, position approx 100mm from keyboard device; detection rate up to 400 chars per minute; visible on any flat surface in light of 1800 lux or more
Light source
red laser diode
Bluetooth, USB
Continuous use 3h40
Palm, Windows Smartphone, WIndows Mobile
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