New Toy

I’m playing with my new toy, the Stowaway Wireless IR Keyboard from ThinkOutside. I’m using it with a Palm TX.

It’s bigger than the Palm itself, about 4 x 6 x 1 inches in its cute little zippered case. To use it, you lift the top up to form a stand for the Palm, then the keyboard itself unfolds in the middle. When it’s closed, the keys are depressed, and they pop up when unfolded. Some of the keys on mine required a little persuasion to assume the unpopped position.

The stand has a metal bar along the bottom to help secure the Palm. Unfortunately it intersects with the bottom of the navigation button and sometimes puts the Palm into permanent scroll-down mode, so I’ve got the Palm perched on top of the bar.

The keyboard comes with a driver that you install on the Palm, which includes a setting to tell the Palm to autodetect the keyboard. This setting seems to turn itself off pretty randomly; sometimes I’ll set the Palm in the keyboard and everything’s good. Other times I have to enable the keyboard detection with the stylus first.

The keyboard is small partly due to a great deal of function overloading. Thanks to two function keys (green and blue) each key can assume up to four meanings.

The keyboard is intended for both Palm and Pocket PC devices and has a number of dedicated shortcut keys: Date, Phone, To Do, Memo, Apps, Menu, Calc, Find, Select, Ok, Done, Cancel, Details, Edit, New, Delete, Note and Send. I have not been able to figure out how to completely dispense with the stylus; I press the Menu key, but then can’t figure out any way to move horizontally among menus – any key I press dismisses the menu. I also haven’t figured out how to navigate from button to button on non-native Palm applications.

So I think the jury’s stil out on this item. I’m going to take it on a trip next week and see how it does.


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