Palm may have just announced its Foleo smart-phone companion--a Linux-based device that lets you more easily view and edit e-mail and office documents with its full-size keyboard and 10-inch screen--but it remains to be seen whether the Foleo will fly or die. Personally, I think there are better alternatives out there, including the latest Palm Wireless Keyboard with Bluetooth Wireless Technology. True, you won't get the whole kit and caboodle of the Foleo, but you do get a spacious keyboard that lets you easily type messages, notes, and more. In addition, setup is simple, and it features a travel-friendly design. The one downfall is that it's only compatible with a limited number of Palm products (you can check for compatibility here), whereas the Palm Universal Wireless keyboard worked with devices outside of Palm. Still, for the road warrior, the Palm Wireless Keyboard is a useful tool that lets you easily get work done on the go without having to break out the laptop. The accessory is available now for $99.99.
At 5.7 inches tall by 3.8 inches wide by 0.7 inch thick closed (11.2 inches tall by 3.8 inches wide by 0.5 inch thick open) and 6.6 ounces, the Palm Wireless Keyboard is a travel-friendly accessory. It's attractive to boot, with a classic all-black color scheme, but we still think the Think Outside Stowaway Universal Bluetooth keyboard is the sleekest accessory keyboard we've seen to date. It just has a more streamlined design, and we worry about the durability of the Palm keyboard's plastic casing, whereas the Stowaway has a more sturdy aluminum casing. Still, the Palm keyboard isn't too shabby. A button on the right side unlocks the keyboard, which opens just like a book. There is a sliding lock mechanism on the top of device that's a bit hard to slide back and forth, and even in the locked position, the keyboard still folds a bit. You can still potentially use it on an uneven surface or your lap, but you'll get the best results when the keyboard is placed on a flat surface. There are also four rubber grips on the outside cover of the keyboard that prevent it from slipping around your desk.
The stand for your PDA or smart phone is right above the lock lever on the left half of the keyboard, and you can position your device in either landscape or portrait mode. As we've found on these types of keyboards, the stand is rather flimsy, which is another reason we wouldn't want to place the keyboard on anything but a flat surface for fear that our handheld would slip right off the stand. However, you don't have to keep your smart phone or PDA on the stand; you can have your device nearby, and as long as it stays within the 30-foot Bluetooth range, the two should stay connected.
Installation and setup are a breeze. We tested the keyboard with the Treo 700p, and we simply downloaded the driver from the included CD-ROM and transferred it to the smart phone via a HotSync operation. Once that was complete, the BTKeybrd utility appeared on the 700p's home screen, and we were able to continue with the pairing process. To prepare the keyboard for pairing, simply hold down the little Bluetooth button at the upper left corner of the keyboard until the LED on the right blinks orange. Once the connection is established, you can set the key-delay and key-repeat rates, enable sound, and program the command keys. We had no problems pairing the two devices, and we liked that the keyboard automatically reconnected with our Treo even after a period of inactivity.
The Palm Wireless Keyboard is easy to use with its large and spacious keys, and we were able to quickly create memos, send instant messages, and e-mail. It has an 18mm horizontal key pitch, 17.2mm vertical pitch, and a 2.5mm key travel, so it felt very much like a regular, full-size keyboard. We also like that there is a dedicated row of number keys and that you can open various applications and navigate the device by pressing the Function (Fn) button and the appropriate shortcut key. We rarely had to touch the Treo while using the keyboard.