Death of a keyboard

My beloved folding keyboard, which I use with my palm pilot, died today. I clocked a lot of miles on it but it won’t talk to my palm anymore. Now, there is a chance that it’s actually the infrared sensor on my palm that’s kicked the bucket, but either way, I’m looking at replacing a piece of equipment. This isn’t just a geek toy, I use my Palm and keyboard all the time.

I’ve been trying to hold out replacing it until an ultramobile tablet computer became affordable, but I may start thinking about it harder now.

Any suggestions from the peanut gallery? What I want is a gadget that I can write on, by both typing and handwriting/grafiti, one that will let me use Vindigo, function as an ebook reader, and display the subway map. It needs to sync with my computer easily. In an ideal world, it would also have wifi and a camera built into it.

And light. My current combo weighs almost exactly a pound.

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17 Responses

  1. Julia

    I have a Targus folding PDA keyboard. Unfortunately, since it’s seven years old and made for a Handspring, I doubt it would help you much. (I do love that my Handspring does still work…it + keyboard was a great cheap alternative to a laptop for classes…)

    But in all seriousness, don’t they have cell phones that do all of that stuff now? Including the wifi and camera? Maybe you could upgrade all at once.

  2. Eugene

    Sorry to hear about the death of your keyboard. It’s always annoying when technology you depend on fails unexpectedly.

    Ultraportables tend to be expensive, especially of the tablet variety. But if money is no object, you could consider something in the Sony Vaio UX series, or the Panasonic Lifebook tablets, like the U810 (which is much cheaper).

    http://www.sonystyle.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/CategoryDisplay?catalogId=10551&storeId=10151&langId=-1&categoryId=577&parentCategoryId=16154
    http://store.shopfujitsu.com/fpc/Ecommerce/buildseriesbean.do?series=U810

    I don’t have direct experience with either, but Vaios are really nice, and both companies are dependable. There are plenty of reviews online weighing the pros and cons. As you probably know, I love my ASUS Eee PC, which does have a camera on some models and has excellent Wi-Fi connectivity. No tablet or graffiti, but I do use it as an e-book, and the tiny keyboard is functional. Best of all, it’s super cheap for the size and weighs about 2lbs.
    Happy shopping! 🙂

    1. Mary Robinette Kowal

      Thanks!

      The main reason I want the tablet functionality is that I often use the drawing feature on my palm when I need to explain a quick set idea. Sure, I could carry a pad of paper with me, but that’s one more thing in my bag. Plus, when I’m standing on the train, I can still write using the graffiti method.

      I’ve been looking through Liliputing’s comprehensive list of low-cost UPMPCs and, of course, the two that I’m most interested in aren’t available in the U.S.

    1. Mary Robinette Kowal

      Yeah, I know. But my Palm is almost five years old and the down button hasn’t worked for the last couple of years. The battery life is dropping… you know. It seemed like it might be a good time to replace both.

      Aside from that whole things-are-expensive issue.

  3. Kara Gnome

    I have a Belkin folding keyboard that I used with my palm pilot. It’s a G700 PDA keyboard for Palm, and has quite a bit of wear on the front, but you’re welcome to it, if you’d like. If it would work with your Palm, of course; it might be too old for yours.

    1. Mary Robinette Kowal

      As I recall, the Belkin one doesn’t work with this Palm. I had one and had to swap for this keyboard when I got this Palm.

      But thank you so much for offering! It’s much appreciated.

  4. Sean P. Fodera

    I’m also quite addicted to my Palm, though I haven’t had a working folding keyboard for about five years now. My Tungsten T5 is starting to show it’s age (the power button is getting dodgy, but I use software shortcuts to get around that for now). Unfortunately, I’m not interested in a smartphone, or I’d get a Treo. There are other Tungsten models, but the feature set on the T5 is better than the ones currently available. I’ll be watching this post to see what suggestions people have.

    BTW, I don’t know if this is still the case, but originally, the Sony handhelds could not sync with MACs without some third-party software. I’m not sure what sort of desktop machine you run, but make sure you’ve got sync-ability with any new handheld.

    1. Mary Robinette Kowal

      Yeah, I have a Zire72 and Palm doesn’t make anything new that has the same features. It’s annoying. For desktop machine, I just have my laptop, you know the one. Under its typewriter styling, it’s an Averetec and about five years old. Sturdy, but also showing signs of age.

  5. zoid

    If you do reconsider a smart-phone, the windows mobile pc req. XP to sync. It was a issue I had to deal with.

    I have a two year old 6700 from Verizon (Sprint offered the same model), that has a small slideout keyboard. I’m using a I-Go bluetooth keyboard (no worries about being in bright light). I’m dreaming about the Samsung SCH-i760, that has a external dialpad. Hard to dial by touch on a touch-screen.

    1. Mary Robinette Kowal

      I’m dreaming about the Samsung SCH-i760, that has a external dialpad. Hard to dial by touch on a touch-screen.

      Yes… that does seem like a design flaw.

      I might reconsider the smart phone idea. I didn’t think about using a keyboard with them.

    1. Mary Robinette Kowal

      Yoicks! That is a bit pricey.

      I was eying a Kohjinsha and then realized that one of the things that I’d lose, by moving to a portable computer like that, is the ability to turn my palm on without waiting through a bootup. So, I’m ordering a replacement keyboard until someone makes the toy I want.

  6. John Charny

    Do you want it to be a phone to? That would send you in a different direction. It wouldn’t be cheaper but if you were close to needing a phone also it might work out better. I use a two year old Treo that has done quite well for me, but there are better ones around now. Smart phones have the bigger market share now so you get more for the $.
    John

    1. Mary Robinette Kowal

      I am starting to rethink the smart phone thing. I’ve always resisted the thumb keyboard, but as I’m standing up on the subway, I realize that with a thumb keyboard I could keep writing. With graffiti I need both hands, so if I’m not in a place where I can sit or lean, I lose my balance as I write.

      May I just say that there’s something a little wrong with my life if my most reliable writing time is on my commute.

  7. David Loftus

    I’ve always saved my commute for reading.

    (And before anyone worries about me endangering other Portlanders, let me say that my commute these days is a three-block stroll. Truly brutal. Not as lengthy or dependable — when the weather’s rainy or blustery; though I HAVE read while walking under an umbrella — as when I used to ride the T in Boston from Harvard Square to North Station. . . .)

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