Rising To The Occasion With Alto

Alison Young
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February 07, 2007
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As much as I love my laptop and use it for everything - writing, pictures, videos or just about anything electronic you can think of - I also wouldn’t mind using it with a full-sized keyboard. You may think that a keyboard is a just keyboard, but not this one. I can comfortably carry this new Logitech Alto along with my laptop in my backpack without a second thought to its size or weight.

Logitech recently launched the Alto, a new one-piece notebook riser with an integrated full-size keyboard. If you’ve ever tried to use a regular flat full-size keyboard with your laptop, you know you have to sit a mile away from it, so the screen might be hard to see if your eyes are bad, plus you’re looking down at it instead of eye-level. The Alto’s riser feature is nice since it brings your laptop closer to you, and lifts the entire thing up at a good eyes-on angle (while providing good cooling benefits for your machine too). As long as you have a flat surface on which to spread the Alto out, it levels the notebook screen with your eyes and gives your hands freedom from a small laptop keyboard.

The Alto is a complete standard keyboard you’re accustomed to that includes a number pad and a media panel. Setting it up is the easiest thing in the world. It takes less than 30 seconds to flip it open, place your laptop on the stand (supports up to nine pounds), and plug in the built-in USB cable. Putting it away is just as easy, and it folds into a nice portable 9.33-by-16.84-by-1.41-inch size to slip into your bag or in a crevice somewhere. It’s convenient to have the freedom to use Alto at the kitchen counter, dining room table or conventional desk.

It seems as laptop computers are becoming more and more popular, and with that you end up in awkward postures that could make you hurt later on.

“Notebooks offer a tremendous advantage because people can use them around the house and take them on the road - but when it comes to sitting and using a computer for an extended period of time, people miss the comfort and advantages of the raised monitor and the full-size keyboard that a desktop PC offers,” says Denis Pavillard, Logitech’s vice president of product marketing for keyboards and desktops. “The Logitech Alto notebook stand helps solve the comfort problem. And unlike a more complex and expensive docking station, Alto is simple to fold up and stash away when the notebook is not in use, so that can also enjoy the benefits of open desk space.”

Not only is the Alto compact, it’s comfortable to use. I can type faster with less hand/wrist fatigue (helpful since I have slight carpal tunnel syndrome). The integrated soft palm rest provides extra wrist support while keeping your hands nice and cool away from the heat of your computer. If you have multiple USB devices to plug in, it has three high-speed USB 2.0 ports around the right corner tip. You can use these to plug in your favorite peripheral devices - webcam, printer, external drive, etc. Note that if your USB device has a high power requirement, you may need to use an external power adapter.

One-touch hot keys are a convenient feature of the Alto. You can have quick access to your favorite applications, folders and webpages, and control your computer’s volume.

If you use a Mac as I do, these will not work unless you’re using the Windows side of your Mac. Additionally, a convenient lock switch prevents anything from being typed in while you’re away. I find this especially helpful when my parrot decides to take adventures on my keyboard.

The Alto is the newest companion to my laptop bag, and I love it! I only have one (very) small gripe: You can’t use your laptop’s touchpad mouse area easily.

But that issue is fixed easily if you just plug in a wireless mouse and use it as a regular keyboard /mouse setup (a good compact one is Logitech’s V450 Cordless Laser mouse for notebooks). Logitech’s Alto is available for $99.99 at www.logitech.com and includes a five-year limited hardware warranty. The V450 mouse mentioned above is $49.99 on Logitech’s website as well.

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