Ideazon Business Solution Keysets

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Products:    Ideazon ZBoard Keysets
                   Battlefield 2 Limited Edition Keyset
                   Adobe PhotoShop Keyset
                   Microsoft Excel Keyset

Provided By:
Ideazon
Real-Time Price(s):

 

Introduction:

When many of us here the name “Ideazon” we immediately think of the Zboard or Merc Keyboards.  These are traditionally geared toward the gaming crowd, and while this crowd demands high-quality products, there is also a market for the Zboard outside of the gaming circle.  Today we are looking at some extra keysets for the Zboard that cover more than your average games.  We are looking specifically at the Adobe Photoshop Keyset as well as the Microsoft Excel Keyset.  We will also be briefly covering a limited edition BF2 keyset as well to see how this set differs from the standard gaming keyset included with the Zboard.

Standard Keyset
Standard Keyset

 

If you currently own a Zboard, this review will be of interest to you as you will discover some things about your board that perhaps you didn’t know before.  If you are looking at a new keyboard, maybe you will reconsider the Zboard and take a look at the productivity options that it has to offer.

 

About Ideazon:

It all began back in 1999 as Oren Kramer, an avid gamer, tried his hand - both hands, in fact - at mastering the tricky basic commands of StarCraft™, an extensive real-time strategy game. Oren was also an avid Quake™ player, an intense first person shooter game. Suddenly, the proverbial light came on and in a moment of inspiration Oren asked himself three questions he would soon pursue the answers to . . .

What if a gaming keyboard could be designed to let gamers execute complex maneuvers and a combination of movements with just a single easy keystroke?

Could such a keyboard eliminate the need to memorize key commands and free gamers for the first time to focus all of their attention on action, strategy and ultimate victory?

Would a keyboard dedicated to gaming action not make it easier and faster for gamers of all levels to master any game and maximize playing enjoyment?


So began the Ideazon revolution.

Oren went on to create the first Zboard and the rest is gaming history. The Zboard was the world's first gaming keyboard, an innovation that forever changed the way gamers connect with their favorite games. It cut down the learning curve to deliver a lethal competitive edge to core gamers, while helping casual players dramatically and immediately improve their play.

Zboard: Built by Gamers for Gamers
A compact powerhouse of a homegrown Canadian company, Ideazon exploded onto the market in 2000 with an ever-widening global ripple effect that continues to rock the gaming world.

Always striving to deliver a bulletproof keyboard that could consistently meet the rigorous standards of even the hardest-core PC gamers, the Zboard system was finally introduced to the world in March, 2003 to rave reviews from both gamers and the gaming industry alike.

Backed by solid partners and a loyal global cult of core gamers, Ideazon has released Limited Edition Keysets for some of the world's hottest games, including Doom 3™, World of Warcraft® and Battlefield 2™, Call of Duty™ 2, Age of Empires™ III and The Lord of the Rings™, The Battle for Middle-earth™ II.

The Future is Now
The Ideazon team has built on the success of the Zboard to launch MERC in 2006. Developed through years of research combined with feedback and intelligence gathered during hundreds of thousands of hours of gaming action, MERC is a premium hybrid keyboard that features an integrated gamepad powered by Z Engine technology.

 

What Makes a Limited Edition Keyset (BF2)?

Ideazon has many different keysets available for the Zboard.  Currently there are 19 different gaming keysets available and 7 business solution keysets on offer from Ideazon.  While basic functionality of every game is built into the standard gaming keyset, there are a few features and changes that make up a "Limited Edition" keyset.  I know we said we'd talk about Business Solutions, but I wanted to quickly touch base and show you the difference between the standard gaming keyset and the BF2 LE keyset.

 

 BF2 Package
BF2 Package
 BF2 Keyset
BF2 Keyset

 

At first glance you assume that the BF2 Limited Edition keyset is merely a nice sticker on top of the standard keyset, but there is a little more to it that than.  The middle and right-hand sections are laid out exactly the same as the standard layout, but the left-hand gaming portion is a little different.  Click both of the images below to view a large image of the key layout and setup of both keysets when plugged in for BF2.

 Standard Gaming Keyset
Standard Gaming Keyset

 

BF2 Gaming Keyset
BF2 Gaming Keyset


If you missed it, the BF2 keyset actually has two less keys on the gaming side.  BF2 requires a fair amount of keys, but the position of the two keys below the down arrow are hard to reach in intensive situations, and I honestly never used them when playing.  They have customized the layout a bit and added a nice graphic.  Gaming keysets generally set you back $23USD and while they may not help you play the game better, they add a nice look to your setup.


Adobe PhotoShop Keyset:

I'm not PhotoShop wizard by any stretch - I'm more of a PhotoShop gnome, and I in fact have a difficult time doing some tasks that many others find mundane.  PhotoShop is a complicated program and if you have to try and surf your way through the menus, you could easily get lost.  The PhotoShop keyset is geared toward PhotoShop n00bs and intermediate users and can become a very handy keyset to have around.

PhotoShop Keyset Bundle
PhotoShop Keyset Bundle

 

The PhotoShop Keyset is among the most expensive business keyset available and has an MSRP of $70USD.  If you've used PhotoShop for a couple of hours and been overwhelmed by all of the keyboard commands, right-click option, CTRL-click options and more, this keyset is worth every penny.  Your favorite keystrokes and macros can be saved and bound to specific keys, or you can simply set up and go with the pre-defined layout.

 PhotoShop Software
PhotoShop Software

 

Here's what Ideazon has to say about the keysets features:

  • Easy and fast access to critical commands
  • 109 default labeled Adobe® Photoshop® default commands
  • Enhanced command zones for Function Keys & Number Pad:
    • 12 Bar Lock commands for main actions (Flip & Rotate control, Transform, Image & Canvas Size and more)
    • 16 Pad Lock commands for quick and easy Layers control (New Layer, Layer Up/Down and more)

 

There are a few basic commands that I use traditional shortcuts for (eg. Resize = CTRL+ALT+I), but some commands like Save For Web are so much easier by using the "Bar Lock" and then pressing F11 instead of CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+S.  Also working with layers is much handier with the full suite of layer options available on the keypad when you select the "Keypad Lock".  Using this keyboard, working with photos has been much faster and easier than ever before.  The key commands are printed on the keys and this helps while learning the new shortcuts.  Once you become familiar with the functions, using the Zboard for PhotoShop work becomes second nature and very slick.

 Quad Functions
Quad Functions
 Many Keys
Many Keys
 Multi-Funcion Keypad
Multi-Function Keypad

 

The beauty of this keyset is that Pad Lock and Bar Lock can be engaged to their special functions, but when you exit PhotoShop, they return to normal function.  The indicator LEDs light up and the Lock engages once you enter PhotoShop again.  If you have multiple applications open and click in a window outside PhotoShop, the keys immediately initialize in non-PhotoShop mode.  This is handy all around - and even sideways.


Microsoft Excel Keyset:

One program that is almost as complicated and power as PhotoShop is Excel - at least when it's in the hands of a person who knows how to use it.  I can get by, but spend more time hunting for functions, features and what I want to do rather than getting it done.  Hopefully, a keyset like the Zboard Excel keyset will help me be more productive.  Let's take a look.

Excel Package
Excel Package


With the PhotoShop Keyset costing you $70USD, the Microsoft Excel keyset will only set you back $35USD - half of the PhotoShop unit.  Ideazon also offers a Microsoft Office Keyset as well as a Microsoft Word keyset as well.  All three Microsoft products are priced at $35USD.  While you may think that you're not getting near the level of shortcuts, features and functionality, the truth is that each of these keysets comes loaded with shortcuts that you probably didn't know existed.  Take a look at the feature list of the Excel keyset.

Excel Keyset
Excel Keyset

  • Easy and fast access to critical commands
  • 104 labeled Microsoft® Excel default shortcuts
  • Enhanced command zones for Function Keys & Number Pad:
    • 17 Bar Lock keys for key Microsoft® Excel commands
    • 12 Pad Lock keys for additional Microsoft® Excel commands

 

Excel Keyset
Z-Engine Software w/Excel Keyset
 

Although the Excel keyset is pretty loaded, it's not as jam-packed with functions as the PhotoShop keyset, as you can see in the images below.   In fact there are some keys that don't serve any extra function at all.  That's kind of weird after seeing the massive pile of functions crammed onto the previous layout.

 Excel Keys
Excel Keys
 Excel Pad
Excel Pad

 

After playing around with and using this keyset to set up some fairly intensive spreadsheets, I did find that it had increased my productivity and sped up how long it took me to work with Excel sheets.  I didn't feel that it was as helpful to me as the PhotoShop Zboard however, but you also have to keep in mind that it is only half the price and I'm a bit more fluent with Excel already.  Either way, the Excel keyset is a great tool to help you learn and master Excel.

The only downside to the business solution keysets is that when Padlock is engaged (which is very handy) you lose the ability to quickly punch in numbers on the keypad.  You have to remember to remove the Pad Lock and that is as much of a pain as toggling the Number Lock button.  Most of the time number lock is on and you don't have to worry about it - the keypad just works.

 

Conclusion:

Ideazon has created some Business Solution keysets in order to broaden the appeal and marketability of the Zboard.  While I don't think I'd go buy a Zboard and a Adobe PhotoShop keyset specifically for PhotoShop, if you have a Zboard already, the business keysets are a nice addition that make better use of your fancy folding keyboard.  As I stated in the initial review of the Zboard, key action is a little rough and not smooth and quiet like a Saitek Eclipse II or a nice Logitech keyboard, but applications like Excel and PhotoShop work on any keyboard as you are primarily using number keys (Excel) or a mouse with lots of keyboard shortcuts (PhotoShop).

Pros:

  • Additional keysets expand functionality.
  • Makes applications easier to learn and master.
  • Increase productivity and lessen learning curve.

 

Cons:

  • Not cheap - Some keysets cost as much as the entire Zboard bundle.
  • Stiff action is loud and a bit clunky.

This is how it breaks down - as we see it.

BCCRating
 
Although these keysets are handy, I just can't recommend them to everyone based on their price.  Unless you need something to help learn PhotoShop, Excel or some other application, they are pretty expensive for the light user.  If you are frustrated when it comes to using PhotoShop though, this could help you get off the ground a little easier.
 
I'd like to thank Ideazon for sending these keysets our way for review.  Please feel free to post your thoughts, comments or questions in the forum at the "Comments" link below.