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Belkin Wireless Infrared PDA Keyboard review: Belkin Wireless Infrared PDA Keyboard

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The Good Easy setup; fair price.

The Bad Small, cramped keys; no keyboard lock; flimsy PDA stand.

The Bottom Line While it's well priced and easy to use, small keys and a flimsy design keep this PDA keyboard from earning top marks.

6.8 Overall

Belkin Wireless PDA Keyboard

Belkin is well known for its desktop and notebook peripherals--the company's wireless keyboard and optical mouse immediately come to mind. But that said, why let the big boys have all of the fun? The Belkin wireless PDA keyboard works with Palm and Windows Mobile (but not with Windows Mobile 2003 Second Edition) handhelds via infrared technology to get your fingers tapping. At $60, it's fairly priced, but we were disappointed by the cramped keyboard and the weak PDA stand.

At 5.2 by 3.6 by 0.8 inches, closed, with stand attached, and 8.8 ounces, the Belkin isn't the heaviest of the lot (the Targus takes that title), but it wasn't as compact as Think Outside's Stowaway keyboard either. The detachable PDA stand, which snaps onto the exterior of the device, adds unwanted bulk, but as a consolation, the casing sports an attractive silver finish. A release button on the right side opens the keyboard; unfortunately, there is no lock mechanism, so it isn't ideal to use on your lap or any uneven surface. There are four rubber grips on the bottom, however, to prevent it from moving around on your desk. The PDA stand itself contains several pieces--a kickstand to prop up on your desk, a wire shelf to hold your PDA, and an extendable arm with a mirror to reflect IR beams--that felt flimsy, leaving us concerned about the keyboard's long-term durability.

We matched the Belkin with the HP iPaq H4150, and after inserting the installation CD, setup was just a matter of a single click and a HotSync operation. A WPDAK utility then appears under the Program menu, where you can enable a connection between the two devices, select your repeat and delay rates, and more. Under File and Options, you also have the ability to program up to 26 shortcuts (1 for each letter) to launch specific applications. You can start using the Belkin as soon as you enable a connection; just make sure to disable all incoming beams under Settings and Connections.

Despite the ease of setup, using the keyboard was a little painful. Unlike the Stowaway, Belkin includes a top row of dedicated number keys and subsequently decreases the size of the individual keys. Its 13mm key pitch and 3mm key travel made for a cramped experience--we often found ourselves hitting the wrong keys and overextending to reach the top row. This slowed down our productivity, but then again, it's faster than pecking on the virtual keyboard or scribbling with handwriting recognition. We did like the four dedicated buttons on the left side of the device that launch the Calendar, Contacts, Inbox, and Tasks utilities. By pressing the Fn (function) button, you can also open secondary apps such as Pocket Word, Excel, and Notes. The Belkin keyboard operates on one AAA battery (not included) and has a rated battery life of 360 hours.

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