[maemo-users] External Keyboard Recommendations

From: Henrik Frisk frisk.h at gmail.com
Date: Tue Jun 24 23:54:04 EEST 2008
On 6/24/08, Jeffrey Mark Siskind <qobi at purdue.edu> wrote:
>    Based on my 'research' the Freedom UBK is the one for me. It seems to
>    me it has a good smallness/usability ratio. I found a blog post about
>    it (in Swedish only I'm afraid) from a programmer (=used to typing)
>    who praised it. He used it with a palm device. Also, I seem to
>    remember someone mention using it with a N810 here on the list so it
>    should work.
> That might have been me. I have been using a Freedom Universal Bluetooth
> Keyboard with my N810 since about January. I am very happy with it. As far
> as
> battery life, I have never noticed any problem. I can type into Emacs on the
> N810 for at least 4 hours, while it is on WiFi or has a bluetooth connection
> to my cellphone and not drain the battery. I charge my N810 every night and
> basically it lasts for a whole day of use so long as I don't do compilations
> etc. on it. The Freedom UBK runs on a pair of AAAs. They last for several
> weeks/months of use. I keep a set of spares in my pocket.
> The crucial thing for me is that I keep my N810, a keyboard, and my
> cellphone
> (a Verizon RAZR 2 V9m on which I have the broadband access plan) in my
> pocket
> all of the time. That way I don't have to carry a laptop around. I have
> Emacs
> installed and I have a Debian sid chroot with LaTeX installed. I have three
> different pocketable bluetooth keyboards: the Freedom UBK, an Elektex cloth
> keyboard, and a Freedom Mini Duo. Each has its tradeoffs.
> Freedom Universal - This is the biggest of the three. It is by far the most
> comfortable to type on. It is the only one that comes close to a normal
> keyboard. But you need to be careful if you carry it in your pocket. If you
> sit in certain kinds of chairs (narrow ones that have arms, particularly
> airplane seats) with the keyboard in your pocket, it will put pressure on
> the
> keyboard and break it. I am on my second keboard for this reason. I am now
> careful to always take keyboard out of my pocket when sitting. I also
> usually
> only carry this keyboard when I plan to do heavy typing. This keyboard runs
> in
> both SPP and HID mode. HID works out of the box with the N810 and SPP works
> with the kbdd driver. Obviously HID is much better.
> Elektex - The is the most sturdy of the three for carrying in in your
> pocket.
> It won't break.  And it folds/rolls up really small and flexible. Also runs
> on
> a pair of AAAs which last for weeks/months of use. But it only supports SPP.
> I
> had to write my own driver for it. (It is a patch for kbdd which is under
> the
> GPL. You can get it from the authors of kbdd.) The catch is that this
> keyboard
> only reliably detects single keypresses. No chording of shift/ctrl/alt with
> other keys. So shift/ctrl/alt operate as prefix keys. And you have to adjust
> your typing accordingly. Not so great for Emacs. The other thing is that
> there
> is no tactile or audio feedback on keypresses. So you have to type quite
> determinately. Good for short messages but not great for long typing.
> Finally,
> the major issue is that after months of use, it got uncalibrated. (It
> detects
> the wrong position of touch for some of the keys.) It comes with software
> for
> recalibration but it only runs on certain cell phones and maybe Windows. The
> protocol is proprietary (and I don't know it) so my driver doesn't support
> it.
> I haven't yet been able to recalibrate my keyboard. Until the recalibration
> issue came up, I had been carrying this keyboard when I didn't anticipate
> heavy use and the Freedom Universal when I did.
> Freedom Mini Duo - This is the smallest of the three. It supports both SPP
> and
> HID. HID works out of the box with the N810 and SPP works with the kbdd
> driver. Obviously HID is better. I now carry this instead of the Elektex
> when
> I don't anticipate heavy use.  It is small and comfortable to carry in your
> pocket. And it comes with a pretty thickly padded protective case. It is so
> small that it is not comfortable to type on for long text. But it is fine
> for
> short text. The problem with this keyboard is that it is discontinued. I
> believe that they had quality control problems in manufacturing. I'm on my
> second. My first stopped working after a few minutes/hours. And some of the
> keys didn't work even before then. And I returned it under warranty. My
> second
> works. But some of the keys, while they work, are not mechanically sound
> (i.e. the oilcan mechanism is partially depressed when not pressed). This
> keyboard has internal rechargeable batteries that you recharge using a USB
> cable. My first keyboard wouldn't recharge. I haven't yet tried to recharge
> my
> second keyboard as it hasn't run out yet.
> The good thing about the N810 is that you can set up the bluetooth to
> automatically recognize multiple keyboards. I can easily switch between any
> of
> the above just by turning one off and another on. (You also need a menu
> click
> to enable/disable the kbdd SPP driver.)
> In short, if you want a keyboard that you can carry sturdily in your pocket
> and be able to comfortably type long texts, unfortunately there is no
> current
> solution. The above three come closest to various points on the tradeoff
> space.
> I've also looked into the laser keyboards by VKB and Celluon but these don't
> appear to meet the needs either. The Frogpad doesn't seem any smaller or
> more
> sturdy than the Freedom Universal. And the CyKey won't interface to the
> N810.
> I played with the SU-8W and prefer the Freedom Universal. I haven't tried
> the
> Stowaway full size, the Stowaway Ultrasim, the original Freedom, or the
> Tablet
> Kiosk.
>     Jeff (http://www.ece.purdue.edu/~qobi)
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
>     a. Nokia SU-8W
> http://www.nokiausa.com/accessories/item_details/1,8994,product:SU-8W|phone_code:N800,00.html
>        5.24"x3.43"x0.75" 6.7oz 4row
>     b. think outside stowaway
>        http://www.thinkoutside.com/stowawaybt_product.html
>        5.5"x3.9"x0.5" 5.6oz 4row
>     c. think outside sierra
>     d. freedom
>        http://www.mobiletechreview.com/tips/freedom-bluetooth-keyboard.htm
>        6"x3.75"x1" 7oz 5row
>     e. freedom universal
> http://www.freedominput.com/site/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=15&Itemid=32
>        5.7"x3.8"x0.75" 7oz 5row
>     f. tablet kiosk
> http://www.tabletkiosk.com/tkstore/pc/viewPrd.asp?idcategory=24&idproduct=155
>        5row
>     g. frogpad
> http://store.frogpad.com/merchant2/merchant.mvc?Screen=PROD&Store_Code=FrogStore&Product_Code=BLMAC1500L&Category_Code=ALL
>        5.6"x3.73"x0.66" 7oz
>     h. vkb
>        http://www.sforh.com/keyboards/virtual-keyboard.html
>     i. celluon
>        http://www.celluon.com/products/laserkey.htm
>     j. flexible
> http://www.engadget.com/2006/01/16/eleksens-new-elektex-bluetooth-fabric-keyboard/
>        5row
>     k. freedom mini duo
> http://www.freedominput.com/site/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=14&Itemid=29
>        3.6"x2.8"x0.24" 3oz 5row
>     l. cykey
>        http://www.cykey.co.uk/

Thank you so much for this excellent overview! Very helpful indeed.
I'm looking forward to get LaTeX installed and my keyboard up and
running :) Your overview reassured me the Freedom Universal BT
Keyboard is the one that best meets my demands.


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