Ok I admit it, I am a media junkie. There is nothing else i would rather do in my free time than lounge on the sofa and fire up my computer to watch the latest downloaded films and tv shows - the shape of my body is almost burned into the leather recliner as if to verify the point.
Phantom are set to answer the call of many a media fan with the release of their Phantom Lapboard which combines a rather unusually styled keyboard with a laser mouse that can be used on 'a lap' with a home theater PC.
Before we continue however a little about the company - Phantom Entertainment (PHEI) were formerly known as Infinium labs - a company who were developing the Phantom console which apparently went through several revisions before being cancelled in February of 2006. Without delving too much into the histronics of the company, they are currently under the charge of John Landino, a very affiable guy who I have been chatting with over the last month. His passion for this product alone inspired me to request a sample .... a rare trait within this industry.
The Phantom lapboard arrived with us in a cardboard box which also contains the bundle - comprising 4xAA batteries (2 for the mouse and 2 for the keyboard), a user manual, USB dongle receiver and obviously the mouse and keyboard unit. The box took a pounding in transit from the USA to the UK but thankfully everything inside was unharmed.
The keyboard is beautifully finished and feels like a serious bit of kit both in regards to size and weight. This is one of the heavier boards I have used and although a portion of the weight will be down to the rotation mechanism it is still very substantial. The 2.4ghz wireless can reach up to 10 meters in open space depending on the radio interferance in the environment - I tested these claims and they are indeed accurate as I managed to get 10.1 meters before dropout.
This technology supports 79 channels and 11 IDs per channel. There is a low power consumption of around 16mA in working mode and it has a self adjusting 4 step power saving function with power on/off. We have not had time to fully test battery life but it is claimed to be around 4 months in normal operation which I would be assuming is tied around a generalised 4-5 hours use a day.
The keyboard rotates 360 degrees to accommodate left hand users as well as traditional righties and it inclines with a hard surface below for the supplied laser mouse, which I will detail later.
As shown in the pictures, the white finish is almost glass like to touch and slightly reflective. Phantom also sell the unit in black if the white is not to your liking.
The movement is very smooth and there are noticeable 'clicks' when it rotates to keep the movement from being overly sensitive and is a firm indication of the extended development time.
Getting access to the battery compartment is easy enough, you simply rotate the board 160-180 degrees from the 'home' position and unlock to insert the batteries.
Pulling the keyboard up to a specific points means it will 'lock' in place at approximately a 20 degree angle. This is to ensure that the tray position under the board will now be able to house the laser mouse while still on your lap. To revert the board back to its default flat position you press in a button style lever on the right side of the board and push down. You can see the lever below on the upper layer of the base.
The keyboard is comfortable to use and the feel actually reminded me of a high quality logitech board - not my perfect match for typing or hard core work, but perfectly suited for media use with a nice array of 13 MCE hotkeys (10 compound MCE hotkeys) and a good tactile feedback for general use. For those interested in technical key info, they are scissor type keycaps.
Phantom do deserve some credit for attention to detail because on the rear of the board there are rubber anti slip strips included to ensure the keyboard will not slide during use, even if your legs are slightly unbalanced.