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AlphaGrip AG-5 input thingy reviewed

Evan Blass
03.16.06
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If you're the type who rips new gadgets right out of the package and expects to toss aside the instructions and begin playing with your toy right away, well, you might want to move along, because the AlphaGrip AG-5 is definitely not a product for you. Self-proclaimed "obsessive power-user" Ryan Paul over at ArsTechnica put the $100 alternative input device, which combines keyboard and pointing functions into a gamepad-like housing, through extensive testing in a variety of computing environments and found it to be a good-to-great device overall- if you're a geek like him (which is probably the majority of you who've read this far- as for us, we still need to look at our fingers while we type). Although Paul claims to have achieved 45 words-per-minute after only a week of on-and-off use, apparently most people take up to a month to reach those speeds on the unintuitive layout (which does have one major benefit: unlike other alternaboards such as DVORAK and Frogpad, extensive use of the AG-5 does not deteriorate your QWERTY skills). Although the ergonomic benefits of the AlphaGrip system are without question (no more hunching over and jumping from 'board to mouse), problems such as a sluggish trackball, buggy Caps Lock button, and difficulty in executing multi-keystroke commands (along with the obviously-steep learning curve) may convince interested users to wait on the next generation of this product (although it might be quite a long wait: AlphaGrip already has the dubious distinction of having at least one Wired Vaporware Award under its belt).

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