Review: Palm Wireless Keyboard

Summary: I have just bought the Palm Wireless Keyboard to use with my Palm Tungsten T3, from Expansys for around £30. First impressions are very good.

The basics

To start with, ‘review’ is probably overstating it a little, but it’s probably what people with search for if they were wanting to find people’s opinions of the product, so we’ll call it that. For the sake of people doing searches later for ‘palm wireless keyboard review’. If you just got here by searching for ‘palm wireless keyboard review’, then hello. Anyway…

You wouldn’t want to have to unfold it every time you had to enter a bit of text, but for longer bits of typing, it makes it possible to get the text in fast enough to not break your train of thought. That, for me, is the real problem with any other input method on the Palm. I’ve tried quite a few things – Graffiti, Graffiti 2, the built in virtual keyboard in the T3, Fitaly, and a few others. Fitaly did seem a bit faster than the others, but it still wasn’t quick enough to really be able to do much writing on, for me. Some people say they can get close to full typing speed on it, but I never could. I could get ideas down briefly, but not really full sentences.

I’ve always wanted to be able to actually write articles or blog entries on my Palm, but the text entry has stopped me. I even tried beaming from my old Psion Series 5 to the Palm, as it’s keyboard is pretty decent, but it didn’t work. This keyboard seems to solve all that pretty nicely, though.

Size

When folded, it’s just about small enough to fit in a reasonably large pocket. But I do tend to stuff far too much in my pockets. I’m not one to worry about spoiling the lines of my outft 😉 When unfolded, it doesn’t need too much room to sit – certainly less than a laptop would – and it’s actually surprisingly good to type on. There’s a few catches…

  • Four rows of keys – no number keys above the letter keys.
  • Keys in the ‘wrong’ places – not too many, but a few that will catch you out.
  • Still need to use the screen for quite a lot of operations – but since it’s within an inch of your left hand, that’s not such a big hassle.

Folding and Unfolding

Once you get the hang of it, it folds and unfolds quite quickly and easily. Before you get the hang of it, it bites. When folded, it feels nicely solid. As it folds, it presses all the keys in against each other, to take up less space. The Palm sits reasonably stably in the stand, though you wouldn’t want to be using it somewhere you were getting bumped about too much.

Typing

In use, it’s surprisingly nice to type on – you probably wouldn’t want to type too much on it, but it does the job nicely for shortish articles, blog entries, and such like. All the things that weren’t so easy without it.

Special Keys

The four hardware buttons from the Palm are under the home keys for your left hand, and the soft buttons on the graffiti area (Menu, Home, Find, Favourite) are under the home keys for the right hand, using an extra function key to activate them. With blue and green function keys, there still doesn’t feel like there’s too much crammed onto each key, and the most commonly used stuff is all in good places.

Conclusions

For me, the keyboard fits a nice little niche for those times when I’m not at a full desktop computer. I don’t have a laptop, but for £30, this fits idealy into probably 90% of the situations in which I might have used one. I’d call that good value.