I debated writing an April Fool’s entry for this week, but I decided against it since this feature was so new. Maybe next year.
Also, I noticed that I seem to be obsessed with locks and keys this month. Or maybe every month. In any case, this week the tool I’m talking about is the KeySmart. I’m not sure if you’d call it a “key chain” or a “key management system” or what, but, as you can see from the photos, what it’s meant to do is make your keys neater, easier to manage and take up less room in your pocket. It does all those things admirably well.
This started out as a project on Kickstarter, which I backed. And, let me tell you, I am so happy that I did! These things are fantastic! In the photo on the right, you can see my two “active” KeySmarts. The blue one is for work, because it matches the blue in our logo and it’s easy for me to remember. The black one is my personal set of keys. You’ll notice a couple of differences. First, on the blue one, I have a single 8G USB drive attached at the key fob holder. On the black one, you’ll see that I have a couple odd-shaped keys and a tiny, LED flashlight attached with the key fob ring. That may be the only real down-side I see to the KeySmart, actually. Those odd, bulky keys just don’t work in the KeySmart itself. But, they are doing just fine as I have them. In fact, I’ve happily had them on that ring for several months now and that solution works just great for me, giving me access without adding too much bulk.
That being said, that little drawback is also why I don’t keep my car keys on the KeySmart. Of course, it’s probably a good thing anyway, since the weight of all those keys would probably mess up my ignition eventually. Besides, if I valet park somewhere, I’d rather not give them my house key and my car key at the same time. I’m a little paranoid that way.
There are actually two basic kinds of KeySmart, both of which come in a rainbow of colors. The “standard” length or the EXT-style, extended length like I have pictured here. I’m very happy having gotten the extended style because of how the longer keys fit together in it. Everything folds down all nice and neat, with nothing sticking out to catch or snag.
The basic configuration of either length can comfortably hold four keys, two on each end. However, you can get post extenders that will let you fit more keys on per side. The expansion packs also come with small washer and rubber o-rings to take up any slack that you might have from an uneven number of keys. Personally, I recommend trying to just make it work out right with an even number of keys. After a bit of fiddling around, that really seemed to work best. You can see what comes with the smallest expansion pack in the photo at the top on the left. That little baggie has the posts, washers and o-rings that make it easier to fit additional keys in your KeySmart. I tried one of the larger expansion packs, but I found that it really got unwieldy in my pocket to have anything more than the smallest expansion pack. Your mileage may vary on that, but I carry a lot of keys and the small expansion pack did quite well for me.
The posts are small, as you can see, but they still fit most keys. The website sells blanks that will all work with your KeySmart, but I, and many other Kickstarter backers, found that it was very little trouble to use a rotary tool to expand the opening on the few keys that didn’t fit. I had a couple keys that I had to do that on, but it only took a couple of minutes to get them all sized right to work.
KeySmart offers a USB drive that fits into their product, available in a range of storage capacities, and it’s okay, but I have to be honest, I wasn’t that impressed with it. I ended up having to use several of the rubber washers just to make it fit right and not rattle loose or make the keys around it loose. What I found worked better for me was getting a LaCie USB Key. The model I have seems to actually be discontinued, but it fits great. I suspect that the current model, which is shorter, would do just fine, too. It just slips in there like any other key would, though it does take up just a little bit more room than a regular key in the KeySmart.
I have to say, again, how pleased I am to have backed this when it was on Kickstarter. There are other key management solutions, but this one is elegant, simple and rugged. Also, relatively inexpensive at roughly $17 for the EXT+ versions that I have, not including the USB drives and expansion kits. Very much a good deal in my book.
And, everyone I show these things to has run out to buy one! That’s about as good an endorsement as I can give!