Comments on: Stowaway Sierra Bluetooth Keyboard Announced

Mobility Electronics' Think Outside division has announced the launch of the Stowaway Sierra, a portable Bluetooth keyboard designed specifically for smartphone users. The Stowaway Sierra portable keyboard includes five rows and full-size keys in a fold up package, providing the closest replication of a traditional desktop keyboard available on the market.
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twrock @ 9/15/2006 8:24:39 AM # Q
I think I just might be looking at the keyboard I've been waiting for. I hope that promise of "full-sized" keys is real. A bit pricey though.

I'm still waiting for the mythical color HandEra.
RE: Nice!
LiveFaith @ 9/15/2006 12:17:12 PM # Q
Yeah, that's a pretty good looking device. Full size would be sweet. I wonder what it looks like compacted?

Using bluetooth for the connection has obvious benefits, but also a couple of drawbacks. Bluetooth headset usage is blocked (Treo 650, TX, LD, T5, T3, TEs, CLIEs, Zire72)when the keyboard is in use because of the 1.1 protocol, so talking BT handsfree is not available while typing. BT also uses more power than IR and depletes your PDA battery faster. Except for the flexibility, I prefer IR as the connector.

Now the real story for $120 is this. Will a keyboard actually be of a real benefit to you? I gave up and eBayed my last one when the answer to that question became obvious. Realize that Palm OS is nowhere near ready for primetime when it comes to a keyboard interface. No serious standard for navigation is in place, so prepare to type a little and use your stylus a little, hack around on the keyboard a while searching for the right combination etc. Unless Palm OS and the keyboard.prc have received dramatic overhauls, you'll find this a more daunting task than trying to do a hard reset with only one hand!

Apps like Docs2Go and others claim special keyboard support status and they certainly help bridge the gap. But, I found D2G to be so buggy and clumsy concerning the keyboard, that I finally surrendered. I spend 3/4 of my typing time fiddling with settings , function keys, learning curves, and connections, and only 1/4 actually typing. After several of these torture tests it became evident that my cutting edge portability for data entry was a much biffer headache than G2.

My personal impression of this whole setup is this. Unless you plan on sitting down for extended periods of time and typing loooong entries of text, the keyboard is just going to waste your time. Grafitti, or on-screen keyboard entries was dramatically faster when considering all the time-wasting hangups of the keyboard, for my own personal 1-2 pages of outlines and note taking.

Remember, these are PDAs and phones, not PCs. This solution is nowhere near the concept of plugging your desktop keyboard into (magnets for Macs :-) of course) a USB port and going about your business.

Note: Maybe WinMob handles it seamlessly. I don't know. Maybe this new keyboard interfaces in a totally new and successful way. Also, for someone who writes novels or makes serious data entry at one setting this may be a great PDA solution. But, if this were truly the case, it seems to me that a laptop would be quickly in order.

Just my personal experience with a "wow-that's-awesome-I-gotta-have-it" product, that ultimately turned out to be more in line with an albatross. Anyone else have a different or truly productive experience with these?

Pat Horne

RE: Nice!
twrock @ 9/16/2006 7:20:58 AM # Q
Anyone else have a different or truly productive experience with these?

Yep, I really like having a portable keyboard in my backpack for those times I'm not at a computer and I want to do some serious text entry on my Palm. Particularly I have used my "old school" Palm IR keyboard multiple times during meetings when the need to really get some text entered quickly entered arose. There is no way I'm going to enter minutes for a meeting using Grafitti.

Now, $120 for a keyboard that you will enter how many letters over the life of the product? That is the real question for me.

I'm still waiting for the mythical color HandEra.

+$60 is the price to pay for multi-platform compatibility
ackmondual @ 9/18/2006 3:13:01 PM # Q
Well, +$60 also gets you the illustrious Stowaway brand name which is quite revered. I've tried the Eforcity WL IR keyboard for z71 and T|T3 and that was riddled with more problems than benefits. It would've been more hassle than it was worth across many other PDAs and phones. I wrote an Amazon review of it here for those interested. I would'v changed it to 2 stars, but A doesn't let users do that to their reviews. I got it for $42 aft S&H on ebay.

On the other hand, the Targus Stowaway Keyboard, connected for Visor and Visor Neo was an awesome deal at $25 which retailed for $60 to $70. It was fascinating in itself to feel the cool, smooth metal, watch it go from compact mode to 4 connected sections and finally to a full sized QWERTY keyboard, but the tactileness of the keys as "noticeably better than a laptop keyboard", useful shortcut commands and keys, and overall SOLID build quality made the switch from my Visor Neo to my new z71 more heartbreaking than it should've been.

The next best thing to above is my current keyboard, the Palm Ultra-Thin keyboard. Altho it doesn't share the Stowaway brand name, it was made by the same ppl, Think Outside. It's almost as usable. It's only 4 row keyboard, so numbers and symbols take some getting used to, but at only $11, it's still quite a bargain

Anyone else have a different or truly productive experience with these?

Well, my comments about the respective keyboards I've used are alr posted. As far as production cycles, they've been few but good. It should be noted that these kbs for my PDAs are strict wants and nowhere near needs, which is why i get 'em as dirt cheap as possible. If I'm out on long train rides or airplane (very rarely for the work i do) it's nice to write up some fun reviews to pass the time.
If I'm at work, i like to enter loong notes using the KB rather than graffiti. I still never got around to installing PD on my workstation. But to ask me to spend $120 for a portable KB, even if it is made by Targus is someth I can't do

"Do you know the difference between an error and a mistake? Anyone can make an error, but that error doesn't become a mistake until you refuse to correct it."
-Grand Admiral Thrawn

the secret to enjoying your job is to have a hobby that's even worse

My PDAs: Visor --> Visor Neo (blue) --> Zire 71 --> Tungsten T3 (with 4 _GOLDEN_ screws) + zodiac 2

RE: Nice!
timepilot84 @ 9/20/2006 5:45:34 PM # Q
This is the best design for folding keyboards there is. I've tried them all. This was their first and their best design. It's a little larger folded, but typing on it is a joy. I find it difficult to touch type on the Palm Universal IR keyboard with it's 4 rows of keys. I'll definately be buying one of these bluetooth jobs as soon as they're available. Well, that's if I can find out whether or not my new Cingular 3125 supports Bluetooth keyboards, that is.

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