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 Wednesday, 16-Aug-2017 11:20:23 EDT         

     WebTV Keyboards

 

What keyboards can I use with WebTV?

  • Any WebTV Wireless Keyboard will work with any WebTV.

    Some keyboards have more keys than others - for instance, a special key to turn on and off the PIP (Picture In Picture) but these are simply conveniences. (CMD-W toggles the PIP on and off, while CMD-M moves the PIP.) And if you use that key on a Classic, which does not have PIP capabilities, nothing happens.

  • A PS/2 Computer Keyboard will work with the orignal Philips Magnavox MAT-960 and Sony W100 Classic Classic only.

    The port for this keyboard is not included on any modern WebTV, possibly due to worries about people tripping over keyboard extension cords.

  • The OMDEV adapter allows you to use a PS/2 computer keyboard with any model WebTV. Your keyboard plugs into the adapter, and the adapter talks to your WebTV via infrared signal.

    We haven't heard of anyone unhappy with the OMDEV adaptor itself, although they set no speed records in filling orders. The OMDEV site appears to be the only place you can buy this adapter.

    With the OMDEV adapter, you do not need batteries, and you do not have the problem of having to point the keyboard directly at the WebTV to avoid missing letters.

Computer Keyboard Plugs

Keyboards for the original IBM PC computer had a plug that was roughly the size of your thumb; the PS/2 plug is about the diameter of a pencil. These keyboards work just fine. It costs $5 or less to buy a short "extension cord" = maybe 3 inches long - that lets you connect your big plug to a small jack.

Some new keyboards have a connector that is flat and squarish. Replacement keyboards that have this connector usually have a standard PS/2 jack, but you will want make sure that it does before you buy.

Cleaning Keyboards

There is a story going around about the secretary who called tech support at her company, asking how she should clean a keyboard that had milk spilled on it. The tech said that rinsing it under the faucet should be OK.

Later that day, her boss called up, and asked who the idiot was who told his secretary to wash his laptop computer in the sink.

WebTV keyboards aren't as delicate as a laptop computer, but it's still not a standard desktop computer keyboard. It's basically a keyboard and a flashlight, all in one, the flashlight emitting infrared light instead of visible light.

When your keyboard isn't working right, you can try these fixs:

  • Replace the batteries with fresh ones.

    It's hard to tell which end is with AAA batteries. If you put them in the right way, your keyboard should remember what kind of TV it is set up for, for the few minutes it takes to swap batteries. If you put them in the wrong way, you will have to set up the keyboard again.

  • If a key doesn't work, it probably has something under it. Take a paperclip, straighten it out, and make a little J in the end. Use this tool to gently pull up the key cap. Clean under the key, and gently press the keycap back in place.

    The debris under the keys may shift while you do this, and cause a different key to start malfunctioning. Don't willy-nilly start yanking off all the keycaps, because you will never get them all back where they go.

    Don't pull up the spacekey. It is a real <deleted> to reinstall. This is the only circumstance where we would removing more than one keycap at a time, and we would still try to avoid it.

  • If the lettering wears off on your keys, you can get replacement keycaps - but it costs more to buy a single set than to buy a whole new keyboard. If you are replacing the keycaps on 100 or more keyboards, replacement keycaps might be cheaper. Better yet, learn to touch-type.

  • They sell compressed air at electronics parts shops. Reportedly, you can clean out under keys with this, and avoid removing the keycaps at all. We have not had great success with this, perhaps because the debris in our keyboards includes hair. Michael Jordan probably doesn't have that problem, unless he has a cat.

  • If you spill liquids on the keyboard, stand the keyboard on end to dry. If the liquids contain sugar, you may need to rinse the keyboard - but try to avoid getting water at the top of the keyboard where the batteries and most of the electronics are.

Buying Computer Keyboards

There's no point in buying a fancy-dan keyboard with lots of gizmos on it. Those doodads won't work on your WebTV anyhow. There is a lotquality of between computer keyboards, though, and relatively little difference in price between the blue-light special and a great brand.

What you would want is a standard 104-key PS/2 keyboard. The very best is made by KeyTronics, although the Logitech brand has a good reputation, and at mailorder/computershow prices, you can get these for under $20.

Best is obviously subjective. Some would argue that IBM and Cherry are the best brands. Few are going to suggest that HP, Acer or Ffellows are even worth the effort of carrying home.

 
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