A4Tech KIP(S)-800 IP-Talky VoIP Keyboard/Phone

Written by: Nate Marion, (a.k.a. NicePants42)
Date: March 24th, 2010
Rating: 8.0 out of 10
Page:

With VoIP (telephone-through-the-PC calls) becoming more and more popular, new devices integrating VoIP technology are popping up. The product I’m reviewing today is one such device. After seeing my review of the A4Tech X-750BF, A4Tech offered to let me review one of their keyboards, the KIP(S)-800 “IP-Talky.” It’s a keyboard, but that’s not all — it’s also a phone! First I’d like to thank A4tech for sending the keyboard, which certainly looks like it could be interesting. How interesting? Let’s find out.

The packaging is pleasant enough, and makes it perfectly obvious that this keyboard is meant for people who like to use voice over IP (VoIP) services. With programs such as Skype, you can use your internet connection to make non-emergency phone calls to anyone anywhere in the world for very, very low prices — generally about $0.02 per minute to most popular countries. Yahoo offers a very similar program, and MSN, Google, and AOL all have online messaging services that can transmit voice/sound. So, bearing that in mind, let’s open up the box and see what we get.

Sleek.

And slim. Headphone/mic jacks are on board, and there are retractable tilt stands on the base.

A closer view of the handset. It’s held in the cradle by a nice big magnet.

Looks pretty nice, doesn’t it? I was hoping they’d leave the “IP-Talky” name off the keyboard itself, since the name isn’t very clever-sounding (I’d stick with the KIP(S)-800 part), but even marketers have off days, apparently.

The box contains only the keyboard itself and a 5-page instruction booklet that leaves no question as to how this keyboard is meant to be used. The box says that using this keyboard is as easy as plug-and-play; seeing that there’s no driver CD included, I sure hope so.

After I finish babbling some IP-Talky baby-garble at my extremely tolerant fiancée, I plug the keyboard into my (already running) system. Windows XP 64bit edition immediately detects the keyboard and tells me everything is installed and ready to use. So far, the box hasn’t lied. Before making the phone lines of the world my own personal oyster, I first mess around with the onboard multimedia and internet keys. More pleasant surprises as I find that the internet keys on the upper right are all performing their functions. (The only note here is that the ‘Favorites’ key only works in IE, not Firefox.)

So, knowing that I have a Sound Blaster X-fi installed on this system, I figure I’d just plug a set of headphones into the jack on the keyboard and see what happens when I turn on some music. Without any modifications, AFI was immediately rocking out loud and clear in stereo. I took the time to verify that all the playback keys on the upper left functioned properly in both Winamp and Windows Media Player. Check.

Typing on the IP-Talky was fine by my standards. Key action is a very subjective thing, and you can see that these keys are much thinner than most. I had no problems with the key action and found that typing felt natural and easy.

Everything is working so far – on to Skype. I’m not going to get into the details of setting up a Skype account since it’s about as difficult as eating a sandwich – possibly easier, depending on the sandwich. During the test call, where you are instructed to speak for up to ten seconds and then listen as your speech is played back, everything seemed fine on the first go. The second try (I like to be thorough) didn’t go so well though — Skype couldn’t hear me talking. Strangely, I could use Windows’ sound recorder to record my own voice with the handset without issue. I resolved this problem by disabling my X-fi in the device manager, although I later noticed that the manual provides instructions on how to navigate Skype’s menu options to select the IP-Talky as the audio in/out device. From that point forward I never had a problem, and proceeded to make some phone calls. Everyone I spoke to said I sounded fine, and I never had a problem hearing anyone whom I was speaking with.

So everything works, and apart from needing to open the device manager (or navigating Skype’s setup menu), nothing needed tweaking in order function. Looking great so far!

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