Review: Phantom isn't dead and this is their Lapboard

It's not often that we will write the back story about how a review unit came to be. While sometimes a vendor asks for their product to be reviewed, other times it's shameless begging. In this case, it was a front page post that landed the Phantom Lapboard at my doorstep.

Take a step back and look at this post about the white iPhone 4. The last line makes a dig at the once fabled Phantom console. We all know the story, so there is no reason to bring up the past. But, not long after posting the story, I was contacted by John Landino, of Phantom Entertainment, describing how he has worked hard over the past two years to turn the company around from the state that the previous execs had left it. In his words:

Noticed we were getting a lot of hits today from your article.  I have worked hard over the last 2 years to turn the company around from what the previous execs left.  We are currently sold by Amazon, NewEgg, NCIX, Directron & iBuyPower with many more skuing up now.

Hopefully you can write something positive about us now that IPTV is upon us and we are selling a good product rather than the regular negative reference to a console that is 10 yr old news.

So when given the chance to make lemonade from lemons, we decided to work together and he shipped Neowin a Lapboard for review and to give away! So below is the review of the much hyped Phantom Lapboard.

The Phantom Lapboard is marketed as a keyboard and mouse setup that works comfortably on the couch for gaming and casual PC use. And on this front, we tested the lapboard as the marketing suggests, for couch gaming and casual use. 

Upon first use, the keyboard is a bit intriguing. The unit will latch up to 22 degrees and swivels around so that it can be used by either right or left handed individuals. The keys do feel responsive and clicky but rank somewhere above a stock dell keyboard but below that of the keyboard on the MacBook Pro. 

The keyboard synced quickly to both OS X and Window 7 machines and all of the hot keys worked as you would expect. The unit uses the standard 2.4 GHz technology that we have grown accustomed to and there were no issues with communication between my computers and the device. 

The big draw to the Lapboard and mouse setup is the ability to use it while sitting on the couch and this is where I become torn about the unit. For gaming, it was a let down. The tilted keyboard made it a bit harder to hit the keys you want fast and accurately. Also the area where the mouse sits was rather slick so if you took your hands off the mouse, it could slide off the lapboard. 

But, if you want to use the lapboard with a home theater PC, it does work pleasantly well. Because you're no longer trying to use the Lapboard for gaming which requires speed and accuracy of hitting the right keys consistently, the home theater connection makes for a great fit. 

Typing on the keyboard takes time to get adjusted to the tilted nature of the keyboard. After using it for several hours, it does still feel a bit awkward so I wouldn't recommend writing your dissertation on this keyboard, but it is useable. I would love to see two tilted height settings as that could allow for a more wrist friendly setup.

The mouse is a relatively ho-hum affair. It runs at 1200 dpi which provides more than enough accuracy and also has a scroll wheel. The buttons on the mouse provide a good amount of resistance but the appearance of the mouse is rather bland. 

So, what's left? The Phantom Lapboard is a good for couch computing but not couch gaming. If you're looking for a companion to your home theater setup, the Lapboard is a good choice. But if you're looking for a hardcore gaming keyboard and mouse setup, you may be disappointed. The combination comes in at $130.00, which is a bit steep, but it is also a unique piece of hardware that is relatively un-cloned on the market. 

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