Originally created 05/13/02

Two new keyboards for handhelds



Keyboards for Palm handheld computers have been around for years and I've tried quite a few, but their size, even when folded, has always been a turnoff for most of us.

Well, times have changed.

The KeyCase ($99.95) and TypeAway ($79.99) keyboards from Logitech will fit in your shirt or jacket pocket and only weigh a few ounces, which is a significant improvement over their predecessors.

Now, before I go on, there is one aspect to these mini-mites that disturbs me - they won't work with older Palm computers. That leaves older devout palmists like me out in the cold. These new units are specifically designed for the new series of handhelds - the m500, m505, i705 and others - that have appeared in the past year.

This, unfortunately, has become a tradition when producing products for the quickly changing world of high-tech, where manufacturers take it for granted that technophiles like us will be fickle and quickly toss old, reliable technology in favor of something sleeker and newer.

That said, I have to admit I really like these new entries into the highly competitive Palm peripherals market. The sleek new design of the TypeAway and the well-thought-out usefulness of the KeyCase make them must-haves for owners of newer Palms.

The KeyCase is actually a fabric keyboard using ElekTex technology that wraps around the handheld, eliminating the need to carry the Palm in a separate case. ElekTex was developed by ElekSen, a switching and sensing company, and can sense which keys have been pressed and transmit that information to the computer. It can also sense how much pressure has been applied to the key, enabling repetition of keys, such as the space bar.

Other features of the KeyCase include

- A SmartMotion cradle for your Palm that's "conveniently centered," enabling you to type with both hands.

- Enhanced keys to give you access to specific functions of your Palm applications.

- A pressure-sensitive scroller that aids in navigation.

- A water-resistant textile case.

- A free-trial copy of the WordSmith word-processing program for the Palm.

The TypeAway is more compact than the KeyCase. About half the size and weight of other "full-size" Palm keyboards we've seen, this sleek, aluminum folding keyboard is not much bigger than a cigarette case.

Its notable features include:

- "Scissor" technology that, according to Logitech, "is the same as that used in notebook computers to allow for a low-profile typing plane."

- Advanced navigation keys for quick access to your Palm applications.

- A free-trial copy of WordSmith.

- It's designed so that your palm and the keyboard can fit in one hand while you type with the other.

Both offerings from Logitech show how innovative a company can be when competing for your hard-earned dollar. In fact, I expect that we will see more new products from Logitech designed for the Palm Computing platform as the popularity of these handhelds continues to grow.