Original URL: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2009/01/21/review_password_recorder_atek_logio/

Atek Logio password storage gadget

Remembers the login details you can't

By Bob Dormon

Posted in Hardware, 21st January 2009 09:02 GMT

Review Whether you’re logging on to a computer, withdrawing cash from a hole in a wall or reviving a comatose mobile phone, passwords are a daily nuisance necessity. With so many mundane tasks requesting usernames and passwords, a possible solution to this ongoing memory game is the Atek Logio Secure Password Organiser, which acts as the keeper of the keys and nothing more.

About 3mm thick and only slightly wider than a credit card, the Logio features a "US government recommended AES encryption algorithm". There are no computer interface options and no backdoor access. Forget the master password, then forget about ever unlocking the Logio again – it’s junk.

Atek Logio

Atek's Logio: keeper of the keys

Supplied with a leatherette wallet, lanyard and a 50-page user manual, it’s easy to overlook the single coin-cell battery taped inside the packaging that now lingers in the bin. This commonplace CR2016 cell slides in a fairly unobtrusive slot on the bottom left corner of the Logio. Fortunately, all records remain in memory when the battery needs replacing.

Available in black or white, the Logio has a landscape mode aspect with alphanumeric keys laid out horizontally, plus a range of data-entry shortcut keys. Adjacent to the three-row LCD screen - capable of showing up to 11 characters per row before scrolling - are the navigation keys, power button and enter key. The Logio relies on a membrane keyboard, which can be set to beep to confirm key presses.

The initial set-up requires the master password to be entered before anything else can be configured. This has to be numeric only and between eight and 15 digits long. The manual offers some mnemonic suggestions which, considering this is an aid for the forgetful, is a thoughtful addition. Entering the master password is the only time that the keypad becomes numeric-only. At all other times, it works like a mobile phone, requiring repeated key presses to access the different characters assigned to each key.

Next, the Logio prompts for your name and phone number. This is to provide ‘lost and found’ information. These details then appear when the Logio starts up. If this, or anything else following the master password set-up fails to appeal, pressing the Opt key skips it and moves on to the next section. Details can be changed later. User IDs is the next option, which offers a swift way of entering in regularly used usernames. There are only three User ID setups available, the idea being that when putting together a password record, a common username can be pasted into the ID field by pressing the 1 key two (ID 1), three (ID 2) or four (ID 3) times to recall the text.

Following on from here, the initial set-up process invites you to select a volume level for the keypad bleeps, an auto-off time of up to three minutes and LCD contrast settings. Once this is done, the only thing left to do is to add up to 200 records or view them.

Atek Logio

Membrane keys

Press the New key and the screen displays Site, ID and PW on each respective line. This is where the shortcut key which toggles through ‘http://’, ‘www.’ and ‘@’ comes in handy, simplifying data entry along with the ‘.com’, ‘.net’ and ‘.org’ key. Almost immediately, the shortcomings of membrane keyboard become apparent, requiring inordinately heavy pressure to be certain of a keystroke. Add to that effort the fact that it can take up to four presses to get to a numeric character and it’s already beginning to get the toes curling. While there’s an 'a/A' key to produce uppercase letters, this has to be kept depressed as you enter them, which is tiresome. Even so, there really needs to be a similar option for numbers.

Making a mistake is easier than getting it right. This is due to a combination of factors: some keys on our sample, such as the 9 and 0, needed much more pressure than others, and the responsiveness of the Logio compounded errors. The active character flashes off and on while you press repeatedly on the keypad to view the correct character. Unlike texting or word-processing, there’s no blinking vertical cursor - it’s just now you see, now you don’t. If you’ve not pressed hard enough while scrolling through character options, the Logio assumes you're done and want to move to the next field. This typically becomes populated with an incorrect character and has to be deleted along with the previous one.

The data-entry system demands that repeated key presses are made to summon up the chosen characters but it prevents you from doing so at a decent speed. Work too fast and the key press is ignored. If confirmation from the screen blinks at the wrong moment, you’re onto the next field because of the delay in acting. Then the wonders of the Delete function are revealed, which is a bit like using a command line in insert mode. There’s no backspace option, the arrow keys are used to highlight the errant character first and then apply Delete. Tedious.

Remember those useful IDs set up at the beginning? They can only be applied to the ID field and can’t be used for the general purpose pasting of commonly used passwords. How about that really handy 'http://' or 'www.' option? Well, the Logio has the capability of searching for records. When not editing, simply use the keypad to enter the first letters of a record. And whaddya know? All those sites you entered are filed under ‘H’ or ‘W’. Forget entering something like 'http://www.toxicbank.co.uk' or 'www.toxicbank.co.uk' - just put in 'toxicbank.co.uk' or you'll hate yourself, and the Logio even more.

Atek Logio

Don't chuck the battery out with the blister pack

Now acquainted with these foibles, the next test was to see how long it took to create a record. A personal best of 1m 50s was never repeated. Even records known off-by-heart took an average of 2m 10s to enter as mistakes were frequent. One record took around 3m 30s to complete as the screen scrolled over blinking out the .com part of the URL so it was entered twice and needed deleting a character at a time and then editing to display .co.uk.

If you’re on medication, it’s advisable to lower the dose to get to grips with the Logio. If you’re not, you probably will be after using it for any length of time.

Verdict

Bearing in mind the Logio’s 200-record capability it could take around ten hours to fill it up, making it a must-have for BOFHs paid by the hour. It will even generate passwords for you, which will speed things up a bit, but we won’t tell.

While it does everything it’s supposed to do, the Logio is a design failure. It’s frustratingly unresponsive and, given it’s mobile phone-style data-entry system, the Logio should have been configured in a portrait-style layout, with the display at the top and the demanding membrane keypad more easily operated in the hand, as if texting. In its current form, it’s the ideal gift for a forgetful foe – a seizure is secured. ®

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