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NOVASIB

PalmInfoCenter.com Bottom Line:

The Price:
  • $40
The Pros:
  • Innovative Concept
  • You can either tap or write in Graffiti
  • Contains many useful keys directly on keyboard
  • Very Intuitive Text-Entering System

The Cons:
  • Tad Pricey
  • Obscures Graffiti Backlight (which isn't NOVASIB's fault)
  • Hand may become weary after extended typing

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*Maximum Rating is FIVE (5) InfoPalms



Silkyboard II Review
By Davy Fields
12/4/2001


Purchasing Information
I heard about the Silkyboard II on Palm Infocenter a while ago and was mildly interested, but I didn't pursue it. A few weeks ago I got an e-mail from one of the marketing people at Silkyboard who offered the send me a trial model because I run the m505 User Group and they wanted me to post my observations. I decided to post them here and point my members to read it.

If you want to purchase one of these, go to silkyboard.com as they make a model for just about every single Palm model, all for $40. Although that sounds like a lot of money, you do get four boards. Frankly, after a week of use, I couldn't see myself using all four for quite some years, so that's on one hand a benefit, but on the other hand it's a lot of money to spend if you don't. Fortunately, this is a great product, so I doubt you'll try to send it back.

Installation
The Silkyboard II arrived in an unassuming brown package which I quickly opened. It contained the actual product casing along with a floppy disk with the software, and four silkyboard overlays with some applicator strips.

At first I was concerned about installing the software, because I happen to be one of "those mac users" with no floppy drive. Fortunately, the packaging told me that Silkyboard.com had all the drivers on it so it wasn't a problem. Installing the overlay was pretty easy, except for the fact that I had to take off one of my screen protectors and reapply one afterwards. I then installed three files that totaled 48k to run the software. It runs a quick calibration test and gives you instructions on how to use it, and you're ready to go.

First Impression
Anyone with Silkyboard I probably wonders what the difference is. Anyway, Silkyboard II has five rows of buttons instead of four. In the fifth row there is Space and some other useful buttons that substitute for the Silkscreen Buttons and speed up text editing. You can do any key without Graffiti at all, though if you like it is still readily available.

I was quite surprised because I really didn't think I was going to like it that much. After all, it did obscure my Graffiti backlight, but the light that snuck through was helpful. This isn't NOVASIB's fault, so I didn't dock them for it. It's actually a quite intuitive system and you can easily switch between tapping and writing on the fly, no key combos or anything. The tapping works well and is far better than writing if you're average at Graffiti like most Palm users are.

One minor problem is that some of the application buttons are slightly difficult to push, but they work. My initial impression was a highly favorable one.

Tapping
The only problem I had with the Silkyboard II was that my hand would get tired. It's great for typing a few sentences but I wouldn't recommend this instead of a regular keyboard if you planned to use it for writing essays. It does tire your hand out from the constant movement around the screen. It's a small issue though, and shouldn't keep you from purchasing it.

Other than that, tapping produced a really high level of accuracy. Normally, on Graffiti, I'd screw up a letter, erase it, and screw up again, which got old pretty fast. The Silkyboard II is especially great for typing repeat characters. Anyone who writes lots of web addresses on Palms knows what a pain it is to write "www".

The fifth row of buttons the Silkyboard II added are a worthy addition. They contain not only the regular silk buttons, but also copy, cut, paste, return, find, and contrast (if your Palm supports it).

Conclusion
Aside from a little bit of hand tiredness, this is a great way to enter text. In my opinion it's better than Graffiti, and even if you like Graffiti a lot, you can use both with this product. At first, I had planned to take off the overlay after the review but now I plan to keep it. Silkyboard II is well worth the money, and stands up well to all other text input methods.

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Fitaly is better

I.M. Anonymous @ 12/4/2001 12:56:56 PM #
I'm a long-time user of Fitaly Stamp (www.fitaly.com). Fitaly's keyboard is layed out well, and they have all sorts of sliding options to make it easy to capitalize or even do common commands. The fitaly layout is better suited for palm use (you can't touch-type on a palm anyway). I STRONGLY recommend you check out FitalyStamp before wasting money on SilkyBoard.

RE: Fitaly is better
Davy @ 12/4/2001 1:00:00 PM #
Actually, I've tried both, and I think more people will like the Silkyboard. The Fitlay Board is intuitive, and allows you to type faster, but it's quite confusing at first, and even later. I switched back to graffiti after using it because it was too hard to use. Silkboard is a great inlay keyboard, in a layout we all understand, that's why I rated it highly.

RE: Fitaly is better
I.M. Anonymous @ 12/4/2001 1:14:28 PM #
Looks great for a Handera 330 user :D!

RE: Fitaly is better
c_blue @ 12/4/2001 5:10:27 PM #
the only way you'll get an app like this ( that is an on screen fitaly keyboard at the virtual graffity area for the handera 330) is in the remote case palm itself switch from 160 X 160 to a QVGA for future models

c_blue

RE: Fitaly is better
I.M. Anonymous @ 12/5/2001 7:41:25 AM #
Well as long as everyone's posting their favorites, here's mine: Quicktype, avaiable on PalmGear. Fully customizable. Print your own overlays. I set mine up similar to the FITALY keyboard. Printed the overlay on post-it note tape, then covered over that with clear mailing tape, then applied that to my graffiti area. Only the post-it note tape actually touches my screen and it's easily removed, leaves no residual on screen.

RE: Fitaly is better
ktran @ 12/5/2001 12:09:36 PM #
I've always had trouble printing onto the #811 tape with my inkjet printer. Is this post-it tape something different?


K. tran

RE: Fitaly is better
I.M. Anonymous @ 12/8/2001 2:21:57 AM #
I've reviewed SilkyBoard I at Pen Computing and Fitaly on a website.

I would rate the comparison between the 2:
SB 2 stars
FS 4 stars

I prefer Fitaly by a long margin. Once past the inital learning curve FS is well worth it. I get an easy 50wpm (70 peak at the competition), and use it as a great middle ground between the keyboard and grafitti. (those time when you need to jot down a few paragraphs but cant sit down to type).

Grafitti, Fitaly and Keyboard all has it's place on my machine. I dont find SB fast enough or accurate enough to make it worth it.

RE: Silkyboard makes perfect sense
I.M. Anonymous @ 2/18/2002 9:56:04 PM #
It's crazy that people always try to compare Fitaly and Silkyboard...fitaly is a niche product for a select few that think having some strange keyboard layout is neat. Silkyboard is EXACTLY what a person looking for a keyboard needs. It's the same keyboard that you use every day and all the characters you need are available for tapping.

Bottom Line: Silkyboard is the best alternative to Graffiti unless you want to buy a full keyboard...but a keyboard isn't nearly as portable...I'l stick with the Silkyboard.

Jimmy

RE: Fitaly is better
I.M. Anonymous @ 5/1/2002 10:17:59 AM #
Fitaly is not at all a niche. I've set up some non-geek friends with Palms and always stick FitalyStamp on for them...they all love it! A QWERTY layout makes no sense on a Palm, particularly for people that touch type. You do not know the layout visually if you touch type, it is all muscle memory. So regardless of which layout on the Palm, you are going to be looking for the letters. With a small amount of practice, most people will be much faster using Fitaly than a QWERTY layout simply because the letters tend to be near each other, rather than all over the place. I also find the stamp very attractice to look at, and has all kinds of cool additional features, like sliding for caps, plus punctuation and numbers all easily available.


RE: MessagEase is _even_ better
MessagEaseDevelopment @ 7/15/2002 2:09:24 PM #
While everyone is plgging in their favorite, please take a look at MessagEase (www.exideas.com) there are three applications, including a stamp. It may look weird at first, but if you give it a try, we are confident (about 1000-users group confident with 80,000+ downloads) that you'll do faster than Graffiti, QWERTY, or Fitaly.

FITALY VS SILKY

I.M. Anonymous @ 12/4/2001 1:15:48 PM #
I have been using FITALY for more than three years. Now I am using FITALY STAMP as the original Fitaly does not work with the 505. I find I can write about 35 words per minute with FITALY and as a non touch typist I find it very useful to have a key layout that reduces motion and thus reduces strain to my hand and wrist. I use my Plam for almost all of my writing needs. I have a neurological problem that makes the PC Keyboard very hard to use. Between Fitaly and Graffiti and QuickWord all my needs are covered. I am very accurate with Graffiti but it is slower than Fitaly. I am so fast with Fitaly that TextPlus cannot keep up! Fitaly is great for symbols and punctuation that I can't remember in Graffiti.


RE: FITALY VS SILKY
I.M. Anonymous @ 12/4/2001 9:47:22 PM #
I bought Fitaly, and used it for quite a while before switching to the Silkyboard. I've used the Silkyboard for many months, and my only nag was the missing keys they added on the extra row with the Silkyboard II.

What about sliding hacks?

I.M. Anonymous @ 12/4/2001 1:50:24 PM #
I use the McPhling hack extensively. By sliding my stylus from the applications icon to the grafitti area I can quickly return to the last program that I was using. This is very convenient toggling. I can also get a list of recently used programs by sliding my stylus from the menu icon to the application icon.

Do hacks such as this still work with Silkyboard, Atomik, FitalyStamp or other similar input overlays?

Thanks,
Ricky

RE: What about sliding hacks?
Ronin @ 12/4/2001 2:01:10 PM #
I use FitalyStamp and I know that the slide hacks I use (or have tried) work with it accept MagicText. However, there is a workaround for the MagicText issue.

If I recall correctly, from when I was researching these alternative text input programs, "Silkyboard I" does not allow for slide hacks and that is one of the major reasons I rejected it as useful for me. I do not know if "Silkyboard II" has incorporated a feature to allow for slide hacks to be used.

Hope this info helps.

RE: What about sliding hacks?
I.M. Anonymous @ 12/4/2001 2:53:05 PM #
I use McPhling and a few other hacks with silkyboard and they all work fine. I haven't tried the Fitaly stamp but I did try the fitaly kbd but I preferred to keep my keyboard knowledge in sync with the PC desktop. Cuts down on the confusion (maybe it's an age thing :-}

RE: What about sliding hacks?
I.M. Anonymous @ 12/4/2001 3:50:21 PM #
I'm using Silkyboard II on the N760C and they all work fine. I use McPhling, App/DA Launcher, and a few others. No problems yet.

Also, with regard to the comparison to Fitaly. I think Silkyboard is more appealing because it uses the QWERTY style keyboard that most people are familiar with. The new keyboard incorporates several text editing features as well. Using capital letters is a breeze... you just hold the button down for 0.2 seconds and you have capital instead of lower case. VERY easy. Overall, I'm very pleased with SilkyBoard II.

RE: What about sliding hacks?
I.M. Anonymous @ 12/6/2001 12:12:04 PM #
The QWERTY keyboard was specifically designed to be INEFFICIENT. Think back to the days of old manual typewriters... if you hit two letters to quickly, the levers would jam. I know it's the same letter arrangement as on your computer, but that's a stupid reson to prefer it. You can't touchtype on a Palm...

FITALY has common groups of letters paired together. It's specifically made for stylus typing (poking letters with a single stick as opposed to having many fingers working. If you're looking for the next letter you need, look near the one you just hit... it's almost always there.

www.fitaly.com had a contest where any text entry could be used to type in a certain test phrase to measure words per minute with different text entry methods. FitalyStamp averaged 58 WPM, on-screen fitaly averaged 51WPM, on-screen QWERTY averaged 36WPM, grafitti averaged 36 WPM. The number of Qwerty entries was low, so results may be better or worse... I would like to see what kind of results silkyboard produces, just out of curiousity. Maybe it's faster and I'm blowing smoke out of my behind...

Source: http://www.fitaly.com/domperignon/domperignon2.htm

TapPad User

I.M. Anonymous @ 12/4/2001 3:20:06 PM #
I use TapPad (paid $10 on sale; it came with 5 overlays) on my Prism and it works great. However, I'm switching to a Sony Clie (760) and the TapPad overlays are way too big. I guess I can order a new set of overlays for $8 However, I do sometimes wish I could tap letters, not just numbers (and the special keys).

If Silkyboard II were $20, I'd strongly consider it. But $40 seems awful high!

RE: TapPad User
I.M. Anonymous @ 12/4/2001 3:30:35 PM #
Same poster here. Just ordered new TapPad overlays for Clie ($8 shipped). Very much like TapPad's special keys and features, plus it doesn't block access to the app icons I'm so used to hitting.

Will wait on Silkyboard until it's $15 or so somehwere/someday.

RE: TapPad User - SILKYBOARD FOR 19.95!
I.M. Anonymous @ 12/5/2001 4:40:06 AM #
You can buy Silkyboard I (the previous version)
for $19.95. Though it is a previous version
it is more powerfull than TapPad, anyway.
It is avaialble at our site SILKYBOARD.COM

RE: TapPad User
I.M. Anonymous @ 12/5/2001 2:58:15 PM #
First poster here yet again. Received new TapPad templates in one day (forgot Brochu was in Massachusetts as am I -- even in the same region of the state).

Agreed that Silky is more powerful, but also more complex and requiring a greater change of long-held habits. For example, with TapPad I still tap the original icons for Home, Menu, Calculator, and Search.

If I entered huge amounts of text on the handheld, I'd reconsider, but as of now I don't do that.

ThumbType

Haj @ 12/4/2001 5:41:23 PM #
i've heard ThumbType is better though i myself have never used any of those things. the sheet's removability of ThumbType makes it better than Silkey is what i heard. so far i can live with graffiti but those who are looking for alts and if not yet heard of it:

http://www.thumbtype.net/

SUCKS

I.M. Anonymous @ 1/29/2002 10:18:23 PM #
I installed the silkyboard on my M105. Worked fine for 2 days and that was it. It ruined a perfectly great machine. And help from them? forget it!!!

QuickType works really well

I.M. Anonymous @ 7/9/2002 11:47:12 PM #
I was looking at both Silkyboard and Fitaly and couldn't decide which one would work better. So I decided since the price is pretty high for both, I tried QuickType. Much thanks to the user who earlier shared the idea of this program with us. I thought it would be too much troulbe to print out my own overlays and find a way to attach it, but it really wasn't that hard. Plus it was worth it afterwards.

You can fully customize the layout of the overlay. There are 35 squares available to place any character you want into (in a 5x7 grid). Additionally, there are two preset columns on each end of the overlay that can't be changed. I arranged my keyboard very similarly to the Fitaly layout (mainly because qwerty doesn't fit in such a small grid). The software is pretty simple to use and I got it to work pretty quickly. It was a little bit hard taping the overlay on, but I just used some thick, clear tape which holds it in place...

There are a couple of problems with QuickType... It doesn't cover the apps, menu, search, and calc buttons, I would have liked it to for increased space. But this could also be a good thing for those users who prefer to have these four buttons exposed for easy access. It also has no shortcut buttons (such as edit functions that tap pad and silkyboard II have), but I suppose there isn't enough room for these anyway.

Bottom Line: Fitaly/Silkyboard are better if you're willing to pay for them, but QuickType is free and works nearly as well.

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