Google Gmail keyboard - the Gboard

Google debuts the Gboard, a specialized mini-keyboard loaded with shortcuts for Google's Gmail service. It has an asking price of $19.99.

Gmail has long had keyboard shortcuts, though learning them can be difficult. Enter the Gboard, a specialized mini-keyboard for Google's e-mail service. It debuts this Friday at an asking price of $19.99.

The Gboard consists of 19 colored keys set in a standard size numpad-only keyboard. Clicking on any one of these performs that particular keyboard shortcut. Included are Gmail-specific features such as starring messages, starting a search, and jumping between message threads. Outside of Gmail they simply act as normal keyboard buttons, and will type in whatever letter or number corresponds with that shortcut.

The device is powered by USB and requires no special software or drivers, however users need to first enable keyboard shortcuts within Gmail's settings before using it. Also worth noting is that it was created not by Google, but by Charlie Mason, a film producer from Venice, Calif. This is his first foray into the computer hardware business.

The good:
• No setup required
• Color coding is logical and makes it easy to learn the keys
• Good build quality and feel; keys are flat like on a laptop
• At $19.99 it's not that expensive. Most numeric-only keyboards cost about the same.

The bad:
• Does not come close to including all of Gmail's shortcuts
• Could be rendered less useful if Gmail's shortcuts change
• Only comes in one color (black)

For more, read "Hardware for Gmail: The 'Gboard' keyboard" on CNET News