I'm a huge fan of using keyboard covers on all my keyboard, whether it's on a Mac or on a external keyboard such as the Apple Wireless Keyboard. I've been using keyboard covers for a long time now and have tried many brands. This time I've got a few different types of keyboard covers made specifically for Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop. KB Covers are the leading brand when it comes to keyboard covers. They have everything you can possibly think of when it comes to keyboard covers. Why would you need to be using a program-specific keyboard cover you ask? If you depend on such programs in your daily life, a program-specific keyboard cover may in fact improve your workflow. And who knows, you may be able to transform yourself from a Lightroom or Photoshop using novice into an expert power user.
We've got two different types of covers that KB Covers has sent out, so be sure to check out the full review right after the cut to find out if these covers will be worth your time!
Like many others, I use Photoshop and Lightroom on a daily basis. Strangely enough I haven't really fully taken advantage of each programs' shortcut keys and tricks to make my life easier. What KB Covers' program-specific keyboard covers were designed for, was to help users get their job done much faster and more efficiently. Something I clearly haven't done myself by not learning all the special shortcuts. This is where these sort of covers are designed for. They are meant to help you learn all the important shortcuts of the program/s you're using. I've taken the time to learn and use these KB Covers with both Photoshop CS5 and Lightroom 3 on a Mac, of course. I'll get into more detail further on.
Being very familiar with many types of silicone keyboard covers, I was expected the KB Covers to be high in quality. I was pleasantly surprised that my expectations were fulfilled after initially test driving these on my Apple Wireless Keyboard. The KB Covers are much thinner than all of the keyboard covers I've used such as the widely known iSkin covers. The thinner the silicone is, the better. Tactile feedback is much better with the KB Covers and you still get that more silenced, damp key press sound that I personally love. KB Covers makes a wide variety of keyboard covers for all kinds of keyboards and programs. There is an overwhelming selection of styles as well. For this review, the KB Covers are specifically made for the Apple Wireless and Mini Wired Keyboard and have a clear background with colored keys that make it look like only your keyboard's keys are different.
Each keyboard cover has a clear window to display the caps lock's indicator light, a very important and useful feature.
Let's begin with the Photoshop version of the KB Covers keyboard cover. At first glance, you'll notice the colorful keys and shortcut keys outlining all of the Photoshop's default most used shortcuts. There are over 80 keyboard shortcuts compatible with Photoshop 6, 7, CS, CS2, CS3, CS4 and CS5. Each color represents a category within Photoshop's side toolbar as well as other individual tools. Instead of having to use your mouse and navigate all around the screen just to execute an action, you're able to memorize and learn all of the essential shortcuts in which you will be using. It takes time to start getting used to a new method of using a program, but it will improve the way you work while reducing the time spent on editing.
It's no secret that using shortcut keys is a much better and more efficient way to edit. While using the KB Covers keyboard cover, I've been discovering new shortcuts in a far lesser time. Sure you can browse around the program and find out the shortcut keys, however having those shortcut keys on your keyboard at all times is far better and much easier to memorize.
While using the Photoshop keyboard cover version, I stumbles upon a few downsides. Photoshop's toolbar tools that have a few different functions are not all displayed on the keyboard cover like Paint Bucket Tool (only the Gradient Tool shortcut key is displayed on the cover). For some reason, the secondary command to choose or switch from the Gradient Tool isn't display on the Gradient Tool shortcut key on the keyboard cover. I think KB Covers should have added a little indication under the main Gradient Tool shortcut key to display how to select and switch to the Pain Bucket Tool using the shift + the Gradient Tool shortcut key. Beginners will have to find that out for themselves even though that sort of defeats the purpose of having a program-specific keyboard cover to help you know all the necessary shortcut keys. This is also the case with other toolbar shortcut keys that have no indication on the multiple functions they have. You will need to hold the shift key along with a specific shortcut key in order to cycle between multiple secondary tools.
The Lightroom KB Covers keyboard cover version sports a less colorful layout of keys than the Photoshop version. Instead, the orange/red command keys control the subcommand keys of the main shortcut keys which have a matching orange/red color to help you distinguish them apart more easily. There are over 75 keyboard shortcuts compatible with Lightroom 2 and 3. The downsides from the Photoshop KB Covers version is also carried down to the Lightroom KB Covers keyboard cover. I found that a very useful keyboard shortcut that every Lightroom user including myself uses called the "before and after" keyboard shortcut, is nowhere to be found. The actual key for it on the keyboard cover is simply blank. For those who don't know of it, it's the backslash key. KB Covers completely made that key useless as it appears on the cover. I've also found out that the quick zoom shortcut spacebar isn't marked on the keyboard cover. I don't consider myself to be very knowledgeable when it comes to keyboard shortcuts, so I can imagine other shortcut keys to be missing as well. At least the majority of the important keyboard shortcuts are in fact present on both the KB Covers keyboard covers.
Like the Photoshop keyboard cover, the Lightroom keyboard cover feels very high in quality and fits the Apple Wireless Keyboard precisely without moving in the slightest amount when typing.
Overall I think these keyboard covers are very useful and will aid those who want to learn their keyboard shortcuts and improve their working experience with such programs as Photoshop and Lightroom. Besides having all the useful keyboard shortcuts laid out in front of you, the KB Covers keyboard covers will also be a really good investment to help keep your keyboard looking new and protected against dust, small particles and dangerous liquid spills. However, I don't think the $39.95 price tag is justified, especially when you want to use more than one program and need to have a few keyboard covers to get the job done. The KB Covers keyboard covers are a little overpriced for what they are. I do like that KB Covers offers a slew of choices and compatibility options for their keyboard covers.