iSkin, formerly ackNOWLEDGE, has proven the old adage that there’s almost nothing you can’t do with silicone.
Wait, that’s not an old adage?
Well, it should be, because iSkin has more silicone products than a Vegas strippers’ convention, and unlike those silicone bits, iSkin’s various products are actually useful. (By “useful,” I mean “useful for something besides free publicity and $16,766 on eBay.”)
The ProTouchPB is a silicone-rubber keyboard cover that’s custom-moulded to fit recent PowerBooks and iBooks. Available in four colours (clear, pink, green, and blue), it simply sits on the keyboard and keeps everyday gunk out of the keys. At $20, it’s a little pricey, but that’s really the only major problem with it.
The silicone is very translucent, making it easy to read the keys even with a coloured ProTouch, and it doesn’t reduce the effectiveness of the keyboard backlighting in PowerBooks, either. Due to the variations across different keyboards, the F-key row isn’t custom-moulded, and the return key shares a “cover” with the backslash. The silicone is so flexible that this doesn’t make any functional difference, but it does look a mite odd. The home row F and J keys have the little “you are here” nubs, just as on a standard keyboard, which is a nice touch.
Typing on the ProTouchPB is fairly similar to typing on a bare keyboard, although the silicone is tacky enough that fingertips stick to the keys just a little bit. Some extremely fast typists may find this distracting for the first week or two of use, but should will find they get used to it quickly, and anyone who’s simply an average typist probably won’t even notice. The ProTouch is fairly forgiving of minor finger misplacement, although it does have a tendency to depress adjacent keys if you hit the very edge of the intended key.
The only other minor niggle with the ProTouch is the logo on the right side of the space bar. My right thumb still isn’t use to feeling it there even after two weeks of using the ProTouch every day. This logo should have been put in the “gutter” below the arrow keys, at the bottom-right corner of the silicone.
In entirely unscientific testing, the ProTouch accumulated quite a bit of dust and other assorted gunk in two weeks of heavy use. What can I say? It does its job very well, as the innards of the keyboard look quite clean. Washing the ProTouch when it gets dirty is easy — just toss it in some warm water with a gentle detergent, rub it around a bit, and rinse and dry thoroughly. A quick washing will also restore the tackiness that keeps the ProTouch in place on your keyboard.
Got an Apple laptop that sits open on a desk for any length of time? You need one of these. It’s that simple. It works very well in spite of some minor issues. Although it’s a little expensive, consider it insurance for your precious laptop.