The Optimus mini three pages are online at artlebedev.com, and they could take a hint from Apple PR: no surprise to be excited about, not even a tiny detail — and Steve Jobs would tell you: with all the hype there was before, that means disappointment. It looks like something most people would surely like to have on their desktop, but not at this cost.
OS X drivers aren’t written yet, which is certainly a mistake — who’s more liable to shell out $100 for a three-key remote control than people who bought 33% more than average for their computer? (Despite the Optimus mini three being aluminium rather than white.) And it looks like the designer should know.
In my opinion, the second (and worse) mistake is that, if “
it’s possible to configure Optimus mini to display additional functions with modifier keys (Ctrl, Alt, Shift) pressed and held on a ‘regular’ keyboard”, why didn’t they include a couple modifier keys on the device itself? Like, press a left-side modifier to cycle between active button sets, press a right-side modifier to access a set of emergency shortcuts? It would cost half a dollar more to build, but the device wouldn’t look that useless.
According to the Answers page, the full Optimus keyboard should reach pre-production in late 2006. Sure, whatever — but if three keys cost $100 (preorder price only until before April 2nd), what’s it gonna be for more than a hundred of them?
There [would be] a little over a hundred keys on [the Optimus keyboard], many of which go unused [uh…]. It wouldn’t have been much of a stretch to program three of those to do exactly what you’re being encouraged to do with the Mini Three. So why release this at all? To give us a preview of the real deal? Or is this a sideways admission that development on the Optimus is nowhere near completion? Is this some daft PR spin? If the release of the full keyboard goes as planned (end of 2006), then what will be the use of the Mini Three?
Well, whatever the case, the device goes for $100 on pre-order, or “more” later. Even that sounds like they’re bootstrapped for cash.
The Optimus keyboard design does precisely include a dozen programmable shortcut keys on the left side. But then, if the mini three (ah, they did take something from Apple: lowercase initials) is, essentially, a fundraiser to enable production of the real thing… doesn’t that make you want to participate?
(Oh, it looks like the site is being slashdugg to death. How surprising.)
From the FAQ [artlebedev.com], the expected lifetime of these displays is 5000 hours. That’s a little over 200 days. Even with a “key saver”, this severly impacts the usable lifetime of this device.
You probably won’t need the displays to be on 24 hours a day, but that still makes it die after one year and a half of intensive use — and if you’re gonna spend $100 on this you’ll want to use it intensively, won’t you?