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Palm Wireless InfraRed Keyboard PDF Print E-mail
Written by Mohd Nazley Mohd Fadhley   
Nov 28, 2003 at 05:14 PM
I have a Palm Portable Keyboard (PPK) to use with my previous Palm III compatible handhelds (my PalmIIIe, then my TRGpro and then the HandEra330). Then, when I upgraded to a new Palm OS5 machine I cannot use my "old" keyboard anymore. The moment I bought myself the Tungsten T3, I ordered the Palm Wireless Keyboard(PWK) to accompany my T3. For RM200, I think it is reasonably priced and one of the cheapest portable keyboard around for a Palm PDA.

From the people who brought us the Palm Portable Keyboard, Think Outside Inc. did it again by coming up with this keyboard. A cheaper version of the Palm Utra Thin Keyboard (PUTK) ... and in some ways better! This new wireless keyboard is compatible with all PalmOS PDAs since it uses Infra Red (IR) and not dependent on the connectors. I think PalmOne needs to have a universal keyboard attachment to be compatible with their new Zire21 and Tungsten|E that doesn't have a Universal Connector but instead, a USB socket.

Rather than depending on the PDA connectors, the Palm Wireless Keyboard comes with an adjustable IR wand which communicate with the PDA IR window. The wand is extra long and look like an antenna. It was desighed as such so that the Keyboard can take in the T3 in extended mode. Plus, making it possible for other PDAs to use the keyboard. Currently, as far as I know, the driver is only for PalmOS devices. I think it is a matter of time before a driver for the PocketPC is written.

The IR is powered by 2 AAA batteries. Since the keyboard IR interface with the PDA IR, some power is used from the handheld itself. So far I don't see a significant drop in my handheld power level during long use of the keyboard. To conserve power, there is an option in the keyboard driver to "switch off" the IR interface after a few minutes of inactivity. The driver will automatically switch back up at the next power-on.

Size ... was the first thing that came to my mind the first time I unfold the wireless keyboard ... So small and compact, yet large enough to "touch type". Initially, I find it a little odd to do touch typing (typing this review of course) since the dedicated numeric keys which were normally places as the first row of the keyboard were missing. A few minutes with the keyboard, and everything is well. However, if you are going to key in a lot of numbers like in a spreadsheet, this missing numeric keys will slow you down definitely. We could still key in the numbers, but it requires you to use the Function "FN" key to select the "green" numeric keys.

Just as a size comparison, below is the Palm Ultra Thin Keyboard dimension and weight:
• Closed: 5.5"x3.9"x0.5" (139mmx99mmx13mm)
• Opened: 10.3"x4"x0.5" (251 mm x 148mm x 13mm)
• Weight: 160g

Compare that to the Palm Wireless Keyboard dimension and weight:
• Closed: 5.5"x3.75"x0.65" (138mmx95mmx17mm)
• Opened: 9.9"x5.8"x0.58" (261 mm x 102mm x 15.2mm)
• Weight: 200g

The difference in size between the Palm Ultra-Thin Keyboard and the Palm Wireless Keyboard is negligible. While, the bright-shiny casing of the Palm Ultra-thin Keyboard is really cool, the basic gray design of the Palm Wireless Keyboard makes it look "tough" and "rugged".

I bought the Palm Wireless Keyboard because it supports the Tungsten|T3 landscape mode. The extra screen "real estate" is great for typing long articles. Now that Memos on the T3 can be longer than the previouly tiny 4Kb, you have a mini Text editor in the palm of your hand ... pun intended :).

The one gripe I have about the keyboard is that the landscape mode on the Palm Wireless Keyboard is only possible in a "lefty" mode. Meaning, for a right handed person like myself, I have to change the screen orientation to Left handed in the preference panel. Otherwise, the screen would flip to the wrong side where the Keyboard IR wand could not be in line of sight with the PDA IR ... bummer. I don't want to leave my T3 in a "lefty" mode since the scroll bar would be on the left side of the screen. Well, what else could I say ... The designer of this keyboard at Think Outside must be a left handed person.

To summerise...

What I like
• The Price is Right!
• Light and Small
• Rugged look easy to take care
• Universal ... works on my T3, Zire71 and HandEra330
(cannot test on my TRGpro, I ran out of AAA's)

What I don't like:
• Have to change to a "lefty" to use landscape mode on my T3 (I am no southpaw)

Last Updated ( Oct 30, 2005 at 02:28 AM )