By David Ponce
Well, no, it wasn’t the long awaited Optimus Keyboard that had aFeb. 1st ship date. It’s its little three-toed companion, the Optimus Mini Three. And it’s not even really a ship date, but more like a pre-order date, as the units are slated to ship on May 15th.
So, what exactly is it? Well, see, I’m not sure. Ostensibly, it’s a little keyboard, with all of its three keys embedded with OLED screens. It connects to the computer via USB 1.0 (??). Each key will either launch an application or perform a specific operation. Whatever the key is supposed to do, the OLED screen will reflect with either a nifty icon, or an animation or whatever, all very cool, all completely programmable. The guys at Art Lebedev Studio are encouraging the tech community (or anyone) to go apenuts and develop custom icons or whatnot for it.
But here’s the thing. The whole point of the original Optimus keyboard was this very functionality. There are a little over a hundred keys on a regular keyboard, many of which go unused. 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. I don’t really like the sound of all this, but perhaps I’m being paranoid. I guess time will tell.