Adesso Intellimedia Pro Mac Ergonomic Keyboard

Remember when ergonomic keyboards were all the rage in fighting carpal tunnel syndrome and repetitive stress injuries? Remember how incredibly huge most of those keyboards were? Well, I’d forgotten about them until I received this monstrosity with a recently acquired Power Mac G5.

used Adesso ergonomic keyboard

The keyboard had a layer of dust and lots of wear marks from use. And, as you can see in the photo (shot in my car’s trunk), it is wider than the Power Mac G5 is deep. It’s just over 19.5″ wide, while standard extended keyboards are 17-18.5″ wide (based on a representative sampling in my office).

Apple Aluminum Keyboard on Adesso Ergonomic Keyboard

It’s the depth of this beasty that’s simply excessive. Apple’s aluminum keyboard (on top of the Addesso in this photo) is 4.5″ deep, my Macally iKeySlim, 7″. The Adesso? 10″ from the front curve to the back edge!

Before we go any further, let me state my preference for a white or light colored keyboard with dark markings over one with dark keys and light markings. Most dark keyboards have anemic markings, one exception being the keyboard included with the Logitech Elite Duo wireless keyboard/mouse combo. Its markings are in crisp white using a medium weight font. The Adesso keyboard covered here is the opposite, a white keyboard with a light typeface and medium gray (not black or dark gray) markings.

I gave the keyboard a good cleaning and took some more photographs. Here’s the whole keyboard now that it’s clean.

Adesso Intellimedia Pro Mac Ergonomic Keyboard

Its full name is Adesso Intellimedia Pro Mac Ergonomic Keyboard – maybe that’s part of the reason it’s so big, to suit such a long name.

I don’t know when Adesso first introduced this keyboard, but the Version 2.0 manual is dated 2003. That would make it a contemporary to the Power Mac G5 it came with, although other indicators point to it being a bit older than that.

This is a legitimate Macintosh keyboard, not a Windows ‘board that also has Mac markings. For instance, in addition to Command and Option keys, it has some Mac-only keys in the top row.

dedicated keys on left side

On the left side are keys marked Back, Forward, Skip, Refresh, Search, Favorites, and Web/Home. I can see those being useful in some apps, especially browsers.

AV keys on Adesso keyboard

In the middle are the A/V keys for audio-visual controls like Stop (top center), Play/Pause (bottom center), Skip Back to start of track (left), and Skip Forward to end of track (right). There are no text labels, but if you’ve ever used a VCR, MP3 player, or relatively recent car stereo, you should be familiar with these symbols.

dedicated keys on right

On the right side, the special keys are marked Mute, Volume – and Volume +, Close, Print, Stickies, Sherlock 2, and Mail.

Adesso indicator lightsA lot of wired keyboards (and almost no wireless ones) have indicator lights for Caps Lock, Num Lock, and Scroll Lock, and the Adesso Intellimate is no exception. What is unusual is the placement of these lights – in the split between the left and right sides of the keyboard.

Sherlock 2? What’s That?

Sherlock, named for fictional detective Sherlock Holmes, is a file and web search tool introduced as part of Mac OS 8.5 in October 1998. It can search local files and do some basic indexing, making it an early ancestor of Spotlight. Sherlock could also access a range of online search engines for its web searches.

Sherlock 2 was part of Mac OS 9, which came out in late 1999, so the keyboard has to be dated after that – 2000 at the earliest. Sherlock 2 was also part of OS X 10.0 through 10.1.

Sherlock 3 shipped with OS X 10.2 Jaguar in Mid 2002, so the keyboard is almost certainly older than that. (Sherlock 3 was PowerPC only and requires Rosetta to run on Intel-based Macs, so it is only usable through OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard. And even then, many of the resources it once connected to no longer exist.)

You Need Drivers

You need drivers for these dedicated keys to do anything, and there are some options out there, only two of which I’ve tried -and only on OS X 10.5 Leopard:

  • DriversWorld.us has Adesso’s MediaKey driver v1.0 from 2011. No details on which versions of OS X are supported, but it does not work with OS X 10.5 Leopard.
  • Adesso IntelliMedia Pro Driver, universal binary by Stephane Odul. OS X 10.2 and later, tested through OS X 10.4.6 Tiger. Free. Does not work in OS X 10.5 Leopard.
  • DriversCollection.com has both OS 9 and OS X drivers available for download.
  • HelpDrivers has 4 different drivers available, including two for OS X 10.4 Tiger.

I’m sure there are others, and I’m not going to download and test any at present. I honestly don’t plan to use this keyboard, and most of my in-use Macs are running OS X 10.5 Leopard or later.

USB Overdrive

You really can’t beat USB Overderive, which is fully programmable. It’s$20  commercial software, and it gives you more control over USB input devices (mice, keyboards, game controllers, etc.) – excluding Apple’s Magic Mouse and Magic Trackpad – than you ever imagined. Versions are available for OS X 10.2.8 and 10.3 Panther, 10.4 Tiger and 10.5 Leopard, and 10.6 Snow Leopard through 10.9 Mavericks.

For those using the Classic Mac OS, there is a free version of USB Overdrive 1.4 for Mac OS 8.5 through 9.2.2 that you can download through the Mac OS 9 Lives website. Mac OS 8.6 or later is recommended. (USB Overdrive has been available since early 1999 and was the first “universal” Mac driver for mice with extra buttons and scroll wheels.)

ControllerMate

Another option is ControllerMate, a $25 programmable driver for most USB devices that you can test drive before buying. The current version supports OS X 10.6 in 64-bit mode through 10.9. Version 4.5.3 supports OS X 10.4 through 10.6 in 32-bit mode. I have no experience with ControllerMate.

Apple’s Ergonomic Attempt

Apple Adjustable KeyboardBy the way, back in the ADB era Apple made an ergo board, the Apple Adjustable Keyboard. The keypad and function keys are a separate unit, and the main keyboard is angle adjustable. Wrist rests are part of the package, and it takes up a whole lot of desktop real estate. It also had a tendency to fail with heavy use.

This was Apple’s only attempt at an ergonomic keyboard, and working units are prized by collectors.

Where to Buy It

The Adesso is no longer available from Amazon.com, where the newest user review is from 2007, so it appears to have been out of production for some time now. You can pickup up this keyboard from Overstock.com for $47.99.

Conclusion

If you want an ergonomic keyboard, this one seems acceptable, and Mac users have very few to choose from that are Mac-only. I can’t get used to typing on one of these things after a lifetime of standard keyboards. I used the Adesso for the final paragraphs of this article (not quite a review), and it drove me crazy. The feel of the keys is okay, about on par with Apple’s white USB keyboard. In my opinion, that was the worst USB keyboard Apple ever made in terms of key feel, really pretty mushy.

Also, you’re on your own when it comes to finding drivers that work with more modern versions of Mac OS X. Adesso no longer links to any drivers on its website.

There is one nice feature. Where most Apple keyboards only have 3′ cords, this one is 6′ – much better if your Power Mac or Mac Pro is on the floor.

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2 thoughts on “Adesso Intellimedia Pro Mac Ergonomic Keyboard

  1. Just a couple comments as someone who owns one of these:

    1. I have NEVER been able to get the “special” keys to do anything, and the Mac I’m currently using one on is still on 10.4 (I only ever installed ‘special’ drivers when I upgraded to OSX several years back).

    2. You can NOT purchase this on Overstock. True, the page shows you a price, but if you look further, it shows as being “out of stock”.

    3. I didn’t know this until recently, but these were also made in “translucent” with black keys (much like Adesso’s earlier NuForm/TruForm keyboards).

    Also, on a personal note, if you’re at all interested in selling this, give me a shout! I need a replacement for my NuForm at work that has broken keys. I’m getting tired of the Krazy Glue!

    Andy