Bose 251 Speakers withstand weather with long warranty...


June 19, 2000

Bose 251 Speakers withstand weather with long warranty

Let's just say the new Bose 251 Environmental Speakers won't wilt in the sunlight - far from it. This pair of all-weather speakers seems to ache for the great outdoors.

Bose built the 251 Environmental Speakers, which cost $398, to work through rain, sleet and snow - perhaps even frozen margaritas flung by rambunctious patio party guests - for up to five years. That's a better warranty than often comes with indoor speakers. So with the reliability question apparently out of the way, the problem most buyers will face is getting the best audio from them.

The speakers put out a big sound, but they're almost less fun than a ballpark public address system if placed next to too many walls or hard surfaces. Try to install them at least shoulder high if they are to face a concrete patio. Better yet, have them face a wooden deck or lawn. Don't be tempted to use them indoors; they seem too brash the farther they get from nature's wide-open spaces.

The 251s are capable of surprising detail with acoustic or light rock music, but they can lose their sweetness when pushed by complicated, distortion-laden rock. Information: or 1-800-999-2673.

- John Hanan/KRT

Flexboard built to handle rough typing conditions

Kota Technology's flexible keyboard begs to be touched, rolled up, scrunched and even spilled on.

You have to work hard to mess up this keyboard, which is the point. Flexboard for the office ($129) and Flexboard for industrial use ($229) are not designed for everyday word processing so much as punching in, say, a response to a checklist. Or keying specs at a greasy automotive shop for a part.

Don't expect your fingers to fly across the keyboard. You'll skip a beat or two. Typing requires a harder touch than on a standard keyboard, and you'll need a strong pinky for the shift key. The keyboard is quiet, though. So if word processing for adults in an office isn't the Flexboard's strongest suit, then use by kids in day care or art, chemistry and biology classes might be. Dissecting a rat? Don't worry about wiping off your fingers. These keyboards will wash off. They're also chemical-resistant and work in a range of temperatures. Not every PC user is going to run out for a $129 keyboard made of rubber, but purchasing agents for schools and factories might find value for their money.

Flexboard, available in green, blue, yellow, and light and dark gray, can't gum up, so it doesn't have to be replaced as often as a conventional board. Kota also offers waterproof monitors and a mouse. It makes the keyboards in Germany, and they're distributed in the United States by Man & Machine Inc. Information: 301-341-4900 or

- Leah Beth Ward/KRT

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