Phantom Lapboard and Alienware Entertainment Center in the Wild

A CG fan Matt tipped me off to his interesting new work set-up consisting of a phat Alienware Entertainment Center – surround sound out, digital video, and a little glowing alien head included – along with the Phantom Lapboard.

The Lapboard is designed to be a “media center” keyboard. It’s stuck at an angle so you can get at it while sitting on a couch. It’s quite thin and light and the keyboard swivels almost 360 degrees for left and right handed use. It also has a wireless mouse and a small, white USB dongle. It will be an option on most Alienware MCE PCs next year, apparently.

I’ve been down on Phantom for quite a while and I’m going hold my judgement until I see that they’ve changed their old ways, but I have nothing bad to say about the Lapboard. If it were made by Belkin or Logitech, I would actually be mildly impressed but not overwhelmed. But with Phantom’s track record, this looks like a toe into more respectable waters and I’m glad they’ve taken steps to remedy their tarnished reputation.

The entire unit was quite light and attractive. No markings – this was a prototype – and the keyboard ran on two AA batteries. Matt showed me his preferred sitting position, with the keyboard rakishly tilted just so and his legs on the desk, and then let me have at it. The keys have a light touch, not much clickiness, so it may be hard for touch typists to get a feel for things immediately. However, I could see using it for a long stretch on a couch or easy chair, which is really the goal.

Overall the Lapboard is an interesting concept, although Phantom has to earn our trust back before I can wholeheartedly endorse them. How can they do that? By producing cool, branded accessories and potentially PCs and allowing me to forget all of their ridiculous console nonsense.

The entertainment center was a prototype, but still looked fairly well put together. We’ll try to get an Alienware MCE in for review later, but the concept is definitely solid.