PalmOne Universal Wireless keyboard
With the introduction of its Universal Wireless keyboard, PalmOne shows it can play nice with others, namely its Windows Mobile counterparts: HP, Dell, and Toshiba. The $70 keyboard works via infrared technology and can match up with the Dell Axim X3i; the , , , and H4350; and the and . Thanks to its versatility and small form factor, the PalmOne keyboard is a great buddy for your PDA.
PalmOne comes closest to matching the sleekness ofkeyboard at 5.4 by 3.9 by 0.6 inches and 7.4 ounces. Black with two long rubber strips on the bottom, the keyboard opens via a sliding mechanism that isn't terribly smooth. You pull the keyboard section out to the left (as marked by the rubber thumb grip and arrow on the left-hand side), thus unlocking the whole device in one fell swoop. You lift the PDA stand and unfold the keyboard, which then locks into place. When you're done, press the key located just off the center to collapse the device. Unlike the and keyboards, the PalmOne's PDA stand is simple and consists of a single infrared arm and stand on the back. However, it suffers from a somewhat flimsy design, leaving us to wonder about its long-term durability.
To test its claim as a universal keyboard, we matched the device with the HP iPaq H4150, and we're happy to report everything worked without a hitch. Be aware, though, there are two separate drivers for Palm and Pocket PC devices, and they aren't interchangeable. We downloaded the Pocket PC driver, and after a HotSync operation, a Foldable Keyboard utility was installed on our handheld. Once there, you can set your key-delay and -repeat rates, enable sound, program hot keys, and activate power-saving mode. To turn on the keyboard, make sure the PDA stand is positioned at the center; sliding it all the way to the left turns off the unit.
Overall, the keys are well sized and spacious, with an 18mm key pitch and a 2.5mm key travel. They aren't quite as roomy as the Targus or the Stowaway's, and some users with larger fingers may occasionally hit the wrong key. We like that there are dedicated numeral buttons, which share space with symbols and shortcuts to Palm applications, such as Home, Contacts, Web, and Landscape mode. You can access these by pressing the blue Fn (function) button, while the white Fn button gives Pocket PC users one-touch access to similar programs. Powered by two AAA batteries, the keyboard can last up to four months with normal use, according to the company's claims.