HP USB Multimedia Keyboard

My Dell Latitude D820 has developed a second hardware problem: the ‘E’ key functions only sporadically, and one day I could not get it to work at all (it has improved a bit since then). The laptop is still under warranty so hopefully I’ll get that fixed.

In the meantime I really needed a backup keyboard, so I went to the nearest Fry’s and and grabbed the cheapest USB keboard that had an unopened box. It happened to be an HP 321AA USB Multimedia keyboard. I just plugged that in, and Ubuntu was happy. All the normal keys work as you would expect. I was surprised that even some of the extras work: Home button takes my browser to my home page, and the volume buttons work too. Sleep, page back and forth, favorite page and email button don’t seem to do anything. I also haven’t tried the play/pause, stop and track changing buttons. All the button presses are recognized, though (I verified with xev), and it seems like I can use System > Preferences > Keyboard Shortcuts to map the special keys to whatever I want (I just tested that I was able to map one key).

I was prepared to pay up to a $100 for an external keyboard to solve this “key-mergency”, so I was really happy when I walked out of the store with a $15 unit. Even though the keyboard feels pretty nice, I think I have gotten too used to laptop keyboards (I’ve used laptops pretty much exclusively since 2003). The full sized keyboard just feels too clunky. The optional wrist support can make it feel a bit more like a laptop, but unfortunately I had no room for it in my setup.

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