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Comments on: Review: Stowaway XT Keyboard

PPK 2 ~ Click for LargerThink Outside, have released the next generation Stowaway keyboard, the Stowaway XT. The XT is even smaller than the original at half the thickness and is also 30% lighter. The Stowaway XT keyboard is touch-typeable, with full-size keys, full-size key spacing, full key travel and tactile feedback, just like the finest notebook computer keyboards. Read on for the full review by PIC reviewer and Palmi's Editor in-Chief, Adam Zeit.
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wha?

byscuits @ 12/2/2002 2:27:57 PM #
how in the world does this thing only get a 4/5 for design? i mean, seriously, the old one was one of the coolest pieces of mechanical engineering ive ever seen, and this one only improves on the old design.

RE: wha?
Ronin @ 12/2/2002 2:36:57 PM #
I am with you on this. 4 out of 5 for design does not seem right.

I own one of these and it definitely puts the old PPK to shame in the mechanical engineering department. The PPK was a marvel and the new one is a marvel plus.

I feel like a Jetson just holding it. :)

In the Spirit of Umoja,
Ronin

RE: wha?
rvdw @ 12/2/2002 2:38:42 PM #
Probably because of: "Numbers and Special signs need to be accessed through FN combinations".

Bluetooth

DessertProfessor @ 12/2/2002 3:22:39 PM #
I had hoped that we would be seeing accessories that use Bluetooth for connecting to handhelds. A keyboard would have been a great example (just like the recently announce GPS receiver).

- Rene

RE: Bluetooth
jjsoh @ 12/2/2002 3:33:36 PM #
Then how would you view your Palm? I'd imagine you would want your Palm to be angled so that it can be viewed comfortably while typing, not laying flat on a surface. If the keyboard keeps the PDA propped up for easier viewing, it may as well be connected. Besides, though BT doesn't eat up a lot of energy, it still needs some. And, I'd rather worry about one device's battery running low than 2, especially when you're on the go.

Though BT keyboard would be welcome for desktops, I can't imagine it being beneficial for PDA's. Or... maybe my imagination is just limited. ;)

Jim

RE: Bluetooth
Davy Fields @ 12/2/2002 4:04:01 PM #
That'd be cool, to be sure, but really, when you need to have the Palm sitting next to the keyboard to type regardless, why bother with wireless when you can just prop it up?

-Davy Fields
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Palm_OS_5/
RE: Bluetooth
timewaster77 @ 12/2/2002 4:23:50 PM #
On the subject of bluetooth, why is bluetooth banned is Israel? Is it a security threat (the reach is only about 10 meters), or is there something I am missing?

Happy Sony Clie User
RE: Bluetooth
vbing @ 12/2/2002 4:25:47 PM #
While the comment about propping up the Tungsten is a good one, wouldn't it be better to have the Universal Connector free so that you could leave it plugged in and not drawing on the battery while typing?

I had a Stowaway when I was using my Visor Prism. When I went to the M515, I tried using the GoType! keyboard, and while it wasn't as portable, I could leave it plugged into the AC on my desk (and to my USB port) and just drop the M515 into it and leave it on the desk all day long, fully charged and ready to go when I needed it.

Unfortunately, the GoType! wouldn't work with the Tungsten (mostly because the thickness of the Tungsten interfered with the facia in front of the connector). As much as I am looking forward to the portability and full sized keyboard of the Stowaway XT, since I use the Tungsten constantly all day long, I miss the ability to charge the Palm while typing.

RE: Bluetooth
enjolras @ 12/2/2002 4:35:06 PM #
You could still have a PDA stand attached to the keyboard, it just wouldn't require the connector. If we could finally get all of the Palm OS providers to provide bluetooth capability.. then the keyboard wouldn't need the actual connector. You could prop up the PDA on a stand, without ever having to actually plug it into the keyboard. This means 1 keyboard for all devices...

RE: Bluetooth
hoodoo @ 12/2/2002 5:01:25 PM #
does anyone know why Bluetooth is banned in Israel?

RE: Bluetooth
robrecht @ 12/2/2002 5:13:45 PM #
Is there a universal connection extension cable that can connect the keyboard to a Palm?

For ergonomic reasdons, I would love to be able to sit the keyboard in my lap with my feet up on my desk and have the palm propped up elsewhere nearby. Call me ergonomically strange but I wrote my whole thesis like this on an old Compaq SLT-286 laptop. I've never been able to tolerate the clamshell laptop design that causes us all to hunch our sholulders.

A bluetooth connection would also allow this type of posture (or lack thereof), but I'm not sure I could be connected online through a bluetooth phone at the same time.

OK, time for someone to call me strange ...

Thanks, Robrecht

RE: Bluetooth
Xian @ 12/2/2002 6:17:50 PM #
IIRC Bluetooth is banned in Israel, Spain, and Malaysia because it uses spectrum that is already allocated for other uses.

RE: Bluetooth
cbowers @ 12/2/2002 6:33:46 PM #
The main reason I see for a Bluetooth keyboard is so you don't have to keep buying new ones each time you move to a different device.

In fact at an OEM booth at Comdex one vendor did indeed have a Bluetooth module that clipped onto the connector for a PocketPC version of the Stowaway keyboard.

This connector issue is getting a bit silly with a slew of stowaway versions for various pocketPC's, PalmOS models, cellphones, etc.

RE: Bluetooth
masitti @ 12/2/2002 7:25:21 PM #
I would love to see a BT keyboard for PDA's.

Palm on the lap, and keyboard on the desk - my typing is above proficient, and I can always take a peak down if I need to look at what I am typing.

------------------------
Mario Masitti
O/T Mod
I Love Tennis :)

no need to prop it up
mj6798 @ 12/2/2002 10:05:17 PM #
I'd also much prefer a Bluetooth-based version. I don't like having to fiddle with connectors, I'm tired of having to buy a new keyboard for every new PDA I get, and I don't usually need to look at the screen while typing. I'd be happy just to put down both devices on a desk, flat. If people really want the Palm propped up, a simple foldout leg in back of the Palm, or a simple foldout support in back of the keyboard, would still do the trick.

RE: Bluetooth
cjnolan @ 12/2/2002 10:35:15 PM #
Specifically, in Israel, Bluetooth is used by the military.
RE: Bluetooth
yapliren @ 12/2/2002 11:59:40 PM #
For your information, bluetooth is not ban in Malaysia. I am having a t68, palm tungsten t, msi motherboard with bluetooth module and I am using it everyday in Malaysia.
RE: Bluetooth
Fly-By-Night @ 12/3/2002 10:26:45 AM #
Infosync had a news item on an interesting looking BT keyboard some time ago. URL is http://www.infosync.no/show.php?id=2012.

The keys seem to be made of stretchy rubber and fabric, so that when the keyboard body slides apart, the keys are expanded to full size. Probably not as easy to type on as Stowaway XT (but does have numeric row), but will work with all sorts of BT 1.1 devices and be quite pocketable.


FBN

RE: Bluetooth
Fly-By-Night @ 12/3/2002 10:29:21 AM #
Apparently it also has 802.11b supoprt for Toshiba users near a power point...


FBN
RE: Bluetooth
danielpark @ 12/3/2002 1:41:10 PM #
Bluetooth doesn't appear to be banned in Spain. While they don't seem to carry the Tungsten, El Corte Ingles does have a bluetooth SD card available for your M-series device...

http://informatica.elcorteingles.es/producto/producto.asp?referencia=97901705307

RE: Bluetooth
danielpark @ 12/3/2002 1:48:09 PM #
In fact, here's a link to Palm Spain's listing on the Tungsten:

http://www.palm.com/es/products/tungsten-t/specs.html

RE: Bluetooth
djpedro @ 12/3/2002 2:18:33 PM #
You are also forgetting the simple point that Bluetooth needs POWER. That bt keyboard ain't going to power itself and will need a battery. Also, I would guarantee you that 90% of the users of this keyboard won't want to be bringing their cradle along to keep this puppy powered and plugged in so you can type. It seems to be a more complex setup than just the simple keyboard attatched to the palm and one for which there probably not that many people out there to use it. Certainly not the majority.

RE: Bluetooth
edevoe @ 12/4/2002 10:51:54 AM #
Another possible issue with a Bluetooth keyboard would be on an airline. I belive the the FAA has not approved Bluetooth devices for use on commercial aircraft.

"Despite the high cost of living, it remains popular..."

Application Launch

vbing @ 12/2/2002 4:32:53 PM #
I am not sure if I understand. The number keys must be accessed using one of the new Fn keys, but you can launch applications with a combo of the Function key and the number key.

Does that mean that application launch is a 3 key process? (Function, Fn+number)?

RE: Application Launch
sford @ 12/2/2002 4:47:54 PM #
You launch applications with the Cmd key + number, not a Fn key. :)

RE: Application Launch
Ronin @ 12/2/2002 6:44:00 PM #
Actually, yes.

In order to use the Cmd Keys to launch applications it requires a 3 key press: Cmd+blue Fn+number key.

To launch the applications assigned to the 4 Palm buttons a 2 key press is necessary: blue Fn+ a, s, d or f. The Silkscreen buttons are also a 2 key press: blue Fn+ j, k, l or ;.

In the Spirit of Umoja,
Ronin

bluetoothing why using the keyboard

windboy @ 12/2/2002 7:07:00 PM #
Is it possible to be using a bluetooth network connection (on a T|T) while using the keyboard?

RE: bluetoothing why using the keyboard
IanJD @ 12/3/2002 10:32:28 AM #
You can with the PPK, so no reason why you shouldn't be able to with this one (I think...)

Praising and Complaining about the same thing?

MJGunn @ 12/2/2002 7:43:32 PM #
To me, it seems like you contradict yourself when you praise the small size, and then 2 seconds later complaing about the fact that you have to use a function key to access numbers and symbols. If you want small size, you have to sacrifice some things.

Another Review

TypeMRT @ 12/2/2002 9:10:13 PM #
Be sure to visit Julie over at http://www.the-gadgeteer.com/stowaway-xt-review.html for another great review.

Stylus Free Use

Patrick @ 12/2/2002 11:27:59 PM #
This review didn't mention it but the Gadgeteer review did say how you still had to have the stylus handy when using this keyboard.

I have the PPK and this is one of my major complaints about the keyboard. Actually, it is probably a driver issue, but so what. Actually, it may even be a third party software issue but so what.

The point is that, at the end of the day, it is very annoying to work with the keyboard unless you simply want to use a single application and write a bunch of normal text. The constant switching between keyboard and stylus is very tedious. The biggest culprit in this area is menu navigation.

I don't know that Think Outside can actually do something about this. It may be that there is no support in the OS to reliably navigate menus or pick particular buttons. If you think about the Windows interface (yes, I know), one of the good things about it is that you get these underlined characters in menus and dialogues. You can use alt-character to pick the corresponding item. I often use Windows apps like this, totally mouse free, and I find it to be a boon to productivity, once you get over the initial learning curve. Of course, this feature is supported by the Windows API and I'm not so sure the Palm OS has a workable analogue.

RE: Stylus Free Use
mtc111 @ 12/3/2002 6:50:29 AM #
I'm quite pleased with the keyboard. You actually do have access to the menus. Fn-K is the silkscreen menu button, so that drops the menu down and you simply navigate with the arrow keys. One other nifty that the reviews don't highlight -- the support of the "d-pad" per se. Cmd + "arrow keys" operates like the "d-pad". AND, umentioned in the users guide (as far as I can tell), Cmd + "Enter" operates as the "d-pad" select. I haven't tried it, but this could work well with OKey. Where you currently have to use the stylus is with accessing different fields and checkboxes on the screen, for instance in a detail dialog box. Something like LapTopHack would allow for stylus free use. We TT users just need a LapTopExtension.

I'll have to get used to accessing #'s with the Fn key, but I will. Now, if I can get a little program that turns the TT off, I'll assign it to a command sequence.

RE: Stylus Free Use
Altema @ 12/5/2002 11:07:26 AM #
There is a new driver for the regular PPK which gives you a mouse pointer: You hit the alt key and the pointer pops up. You can slide it around using the arrow keys, then hit enter to select. The driver version is 1.6 but is for the Palm M5xx series.

RE: Stylus Free Use
Rolandrsr @ 12/8/2002 8:36:15 PM #
I saw where you said that 1.6 was out. I checked the Palm store and did not see the software. Would like to get it.

RE: Stylus Free Use
Xizor @ 12/19/2002 12:05:49 PM #
This comment might be a bit late, but I just have to say this... expecting to use all the software without a stylus is kind of like expecting to use a PC without a mouse... You have always needed to use the mouse with the keyboard for full functionality. I know you can use the alt key etc... but it's not nearly as handy. Hopefully they come up with something opens menus etc... with this keyboard.

RE: Stylus Free Use
Patrick @ 12/20/2002 10:29:43 PM #
Well, I use alt key combinations to great effect on Windows. Yes, occasionally there is no replacement for the mouse, but you can do the most common operations completely from the keyboard.

In the case of PalmOS, if standardized menu and dialog box navigation was available from the keyboard, that would go a long, long way to making the keyboard experience much more satisfying (for me). I don't expect to throw away the stylus altogether while using the keyboard, though.


keyboard comparision

jsulmeyer @ 12/3/2002 7:40:57 AM #
I was at Office Depot last night and was looking at a new Palm brochure that shows the Tungsten attached to a new "extra thin" keyboard. I checked the Palm web site and there is no sign of it. Does anyone know anything about it and, if so, how does it compare to the new stowaway? Are they one and the same?



RE: keyboard comparision
scaught @ 12/3/2002 8:47:21 AM #
this review is the keyboard mentioned, im 99% positive.

RE: keyboard comparision
Marshall Flinkman @ 12/3/2002 9:07:08 AM #
It's got to be--the Stowaway XT was announced at the same time as the T|T...

RE: keyboard comparision
Moose Man @ 12/3/2002 10:03:22 AM #
The brochure is for the XT. Palm Store is out of this unit at the moment. I had one on order and they cancelled it. I've had email conversation with Think Outside. Shipments are on their way to the Palm Store and they should be back in stock shortly.

I'm perturbed that Palm Store cancelled my order instead of leaving it on backorder status now I have to reorder. Palm store is the only current source for this keyboard although some of the box retailers will have it later, again according to Think Outside.

A Palm wannabe fanatic

RE: keyboard comparision
ptc @ 12/5/2002 2:54:05 PM #
I ordered one from microwarehouse.com, so add that to the available places...

_________
Paul C.

"didn't have a driver no a case"?

abischof @ 12/3/2002 10:55:35 AM #
"Unfortunately, I didn't have a driver no a case in the package I've got from Think Outside."

Err, what does that sentence even mean? ;)

---
Alex Bischoff

RE:
adamzeit @ 12/3/2002 11:20:29 AM #
It means I couldn't install the keyboard if there is no driver in the box. The driver for the XT keyboard can be downloaded from Palm at
http://www.palm.com/support/downloads/ultrathin_driver.html

Adam Zeit
Palmi http://www.palmi.co.il

RE:
adamzeit @ 12/3/2002 11:25:31 AM #
no = nor

Adam Zeit
Palmi, Editor in-Chief
www.palmi.co.il

XT Keyboard and IR

kozmos @ 12/3/2002 2:48:26 PM #
Can you use XT Keyborad at the same time as IR port is communicating with your mobile phone, i.e. can you type while browsing the web or using IRC client?
RE: XT Keyboard and IR
adamzeit @ 12/3/2002 3:09:06 PM #
No, In the same time, the Palm handheld can use only one serial port.

Adam Zeit
Palmi, Editor in-Chief
www.palmi.co.il

Keyboard driver

CZ @ 12/3/2002 4:17:09 PM #
Very good and well presemted review, but as much as I like the thorough decription of the hardware, I'm missing some more details on the keyboard driver: Does it support list navigation, drop-down-lists or field selection/movement by pressing the TAB-key etc. Currently one has to use LapTop hack to get these features, but under OS5 hacks are no longer supported !

Cheers

Stephan

Does it scratch the back of the Tungsten?

Jeremy @ 12/3/2002 6:58:00 PM #
The keyboard looks great, but the support device for the Tungtsen looks like a thin pice of metal. Metal on metal doesn't sound like a good idea. Maybe it's just the photo, but the support for the Tungsten doesn't look like a snug fit, kind of like the cradle for the Tungsten, which is the one thing I really hate about it.

RE: Does it scratch the back of the Tungsten?
IanJD @ 12/5/2002 11:44:00 AM #
No, the two metal rods that protude perpendicular to the case are metal, however the black support bar that the T|T leans on is genuine plastic. The two silvery-looking things that seem to be touching the lower left and right of the T|T don't in fact make contact, and if they did it would be with the plastic trim around the bottom of the T|T.

Queries

IanJD @ 12/4/2002 12:07:47 PM #
A couple of extra questions, in case Adam's still reading...

1. The XT driver I downloaded from the web gave an awful slowdown in hotsyncing while active; did you see this? If it's like the PPK T|T beta it will crash during hotsync often, too.

2. According to the handbook the pointer functionality should work on OS4.1, and *not* on OS5, so if the driver works there should be a pull-down Pointer menu. Presumably if you didn't find it this is lacking in the driver, too.


RE: Queries
adamzeit @ 12/4/2002 2:33:47 PM #
Hi,

Unfortunately, I didn't get a handbook. So I don't know about that.

Regarding the slowdown, the only slow down I noticed is between pressing the HotSync button on the cradle and the beginning of the HotSync. However, I didn't think it can be linked to the XT driver. I'll check this issue.

Adam Zeit
Palmi, Editor in-Chief
www.palmi.co.il

RE: Queries
IanJD @ 12/4/2002 3:17:02 PM #
Ah; it may not have been there when you downloaded the driver, but there's a PDF handbook here...

http://www.palm.com/support/accessories/ultrathin.html

The slowdown I see with the PPK and the ultrathin drivers during hotsync are most obvious during the (BackUpBuddy-driven) backup of the SD card; the files tick by at about 1 per second, which is rather slow when you have over 700 files on the card. :) It may, of course, be something specific to the T|T.

Just 24 hours and I get one to play with myself. :) :)

RE: Queries
carr7 @ 12/4/2002 11:55:25 PM #
I have a T|T with this keyboard and also have the slow hotsync problem. Someone responded in the forums about being a programer for the keyboard and offered to send the latest driver to test. Haven't seen it yet though.

http://www.palminfocenter.com/forum/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=9205

Bug with Word To Go

Jonny M @ 12/4/2002 2:43:16 PM #
I'm experiencing a bug using the XT keyboard with Dataviz' Word To Go Ver 5.001 on my Tungsten|T. The combination Fn-numberKey does not produce the corresponding number when typing in the document area. On the other hand, if I press Fn-Numlock and then just press number keys (a not-very-convenient workaround), they work fine.

Pass through connector for keyboard

atb @ 1/4/2005 9:52:15 AM #
Thanks for your article on the stowaway keyboard. I would like to be able to connect my plam to a power source and to other serial devices while my keyboard is attached. Obviously the keyboard out of the box does not support this.

Do you know if there are any vendors that supply a "3 way" connector? The palm would insert on top of the connector, the bottom would insert into the keyboard connector, and the back of this "3 way" there would be a port to insert another device.

I know I can do this for power so that is not a problem. I understand the universal connector has two seperate ports, one usb and one RS-232 serial. Do you know which interface the keyboard uses to talk to the palm, serial or usb? Because if the keyboard is only using one port I should be able to split off the pins and use the other port right?

Thanks.

Thinking of Upgrading

livingwell202 @ 1/26/2006 10:18:24 AM #
Ok I want to upgrade to a Palm Tungsten E2 handheld, but I have all the toys that go with the Palm 111c will any of this work? I need to keep all my info from my Palm 111c on my PC (I work between two computers) will I lose all my data?
This looks good to me but?
Thanks for your help

RRR
RE: Thinking of Upgrading
AdamaDBrown @ 1/26/2006 1:34:58 PM #
Pretty much all of your accessories will be useless. The docking connector has changed at least twice since the IIIc. The cases might be semi-useful, but they won't fit right.

You can sync your data over (contacts, calender, other PIM stuff), but you should be careful about moving any third-party applications, and install them one at a time. Some older apps don't work on newer Palms, and some can cause problems, so it's best to go one by one so that if you run into a malfunctioning program you know which one it is.

RE: Thinking of Upgrading
medevilenemy @ 1/26/2006 2:50:10 PM #
Once you upgrade... i suggest keeping the IIIc in a nice safe place. It may be horribly out of date, but the III series devices, in my opinion, are second only to the V/Vx in design.

RE: Thinking of Upgrading
hkklife @ 1/26/2006 3:54:07 PM #
What about the m500/505? Classic V formfactor but with a better power button, a tapered bottom, a thinner left side rail port and an expansion slot. THAT is IMO the paradigm of handheld design!

Pilot 1000-->Pilot 5000-->PalmPilot Pro-->IIIe-->Vx-->m505-->T|T-->T|T2-->T|C-->T|T3-->T|T5-->TX
RE: Thinking of Upgrading
The_Voice_of_Reason @ 1/27/2006 3:37:11 AM #
Rather than getting a Tungsten E2, I'd suggest you look at a TX. Or even better would be a good used Sony CLIE TH55 (check eBay). The TH55 is easily the best traditional (tablet) form factor PalmOS PDA ever made and has MUCH better construction quality than anything Palm has made in the past several years. The only problem is in finding one - people quickly figured out this was as good as it gets, so most people are hanging onto theirs until they break. Many of us even bought spare TH55 as insurance in case of theft/damage. A good analogy is if you think of the TH55 as being a Lexus and the Palm models as being Chevys. Would you rather drive a Lexus or a Chevy?

TVoR

------------------------
Sony CLIE UX100: 128 MB real RAM, OLED screen. All the PDA anyone really ever wanted.
------------------------

The Palm eCONomy = Communismô

The Great Palm Swindle: http://www.palminfocenter.com/comment_view.asp?ID=7864#108038

NetFrontLinux - the next major cellphone OS?: http://www.palminfocenter.com/comment_view.asp?ID=8060#111823

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