If it sounds like a gadget from the future, a virtual laser keyboard sort of looks like one, too, especially when it's on full working display. They're small and sleek, weigh about two ounces (56.7 grams) and comparable in size to a pack of gum, so they can fit easily into pockets or carrying bags.
But when it's time to use the virtual laser keyboard, the full science-fiction novelty comes into play. Most devices either stand up straight on a rectangular base or prop up with the help of a stand that flips out from the back. Once powered up, the keyboard can connect to a smartphone, PDA or laptop via USB cable or, more commonly, Bluetooth wireless technology. These two connection options allow the virtual laser keyboard to send keystroke information to a word processing document, e-mail or any other program in question.
Although they're small and convenient to carry around, you can't simply pull out the virtual laser keyboard and start typing away in any location. If you were sitting on the bus, for instance, and wanted to write a quick e-mail on your BlackBerry, you couldn't shine the device's red laser onto your lap and expect it to work properly. Virtual laser keyboards require flat, opaque and non-reflective surfaces for working projection and typing. Once you have the keyboard set up on the right type of surface, the device displays a full-size QWERTY keyboard, which typically contains 60 or more keys. Then you simply type just like you would on a normal keyboard, although the sensation you normally get when typing on a laptop or desktop -- the pops and clicks associated with the keystrokes punching up and down -- won't be there. In fact, it takes a little bit of practice for many users to become accustomed to pressing their fingers on a smooth surface.
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