Anyone who s researched PDA keyboards or even owns one, knows Think Outside s Stowaway line (also sold under the Targus name) is the cream of the crop. There s really not much competition and why should there be? The product is great. Now imagine a great product even better and you have the new XT Ultra-Thin.
A brief introduction though. The XT is a fold-open keyboard that attaches to the universal connector of most Palm devices (m125/130/500/505/515/i705 Tungsten T). Once open it reveals a full-sized keyboard with all the options like numbers and Palm functions available through function keys. Simply slide out the holder and your Palm will fit snugly into the connector while being propped up in the back.
Think Outside has gone to great lengths to make sure their latest effort was more than a repackaged Stowaway in a pretty silver wrapper. They ve addressed a fundamental issue with prior versions, managing to do so in a more compact and lighter package than ever before.
Here s a brief rundown of the specs in comparison to the previous model
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9.9 x 5.8 x .5
13.8 x 5.1 x 0.44
5.5 x 3.9 x .5
3.6 x 5.1 x 0.8
They ve managed to shave two ounces off the weight. This is largely accomplished by the reduced size. You might be a little worried about typing on something so small, but for me it was a joy. The keys are all full size, in fact when I sit it on top of my Dell laptop, the only difference is the size of the function keys like shift, control, etc. They did shave off the number keys though to save some more room. To access those you simply use a function key in conjunction with the appropriate letter. It s not a big deal to me, as I rarely use the numbers anyway.
One of the main issues I m glad to see addressed is the locking mechanism when the keyboard is open. In prior models it was virtually impossible to type on a surface that was not totally flat because the foldable keyboard would do just that fold up. Now, after unfolding, the keyboard locks into place to make typing in your lap possible. This small change is a major usability enhancement.
After using the keyboard in conjunction with Word To Go and Sheets To Go, I must say the experience was very good. My Tungsten with keyboard now has the ability to make me feel safe leaving the laptop at home for extended periods of time. My only issue, and it s a small one, is that you still need the stylus every now and then. Maybe Think Outside could fine a way to throw in a trackball or eraser mouse into the next version.
Overall, if you ve been thinking about a keyboard for your Palm, this is the way to go without question. I wouldn t even try to save money by buying an older original model. I think in the long run you ll really appreciate how much space this saves and how light it is. Tossing it in a purse or even pant pocket is not a huge deal. The XT seems to be out of stock on Palm s site, but it will sell for $99.00 when it returns.