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dave262
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Reged: 08/10/04
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Which keyboard should I buy? Palm UltraThin or Belkin G700?
      #14283 - 08/10/04 11:49 PM

Tong Zhang reviewed the Belkin G700 and liked it a lot:
http://www.pdabuyersguide.com/tips/belkin_G700.htm
But Lisa G. reviewd the Palm Ultra-Thin / Stowaway XT, and she liked it a lot, too:
http://www.pdabuyersguide.com/tips/stowawayXT.htm
So, which keyboard should I get?

I've been using the original folding Palm Portable Keyboard (a/k/a Stowaway) with my old m100, and it has been great. Even though I mostly use it on my lap, and it is not rigid when unfolded, so it flops around a lot as I type, it still has been wonderful for note-taking.

But the Palm Portable Keyboard just died (the m100 tries to synchronize with the desktop whenever I plug in the keyboard or press a key). Also, my m100's 2MB of memory is nearly full. So I guess it is time to finally upgrade.

I think I can figure out what PDA to get, but I could use some advice on the keyboard. From what I've read, the two best keyboards are the Palm Ultra-Thin (Stowaway XT) and the Belkin G700.

Both the UltraThin and the G700 improve on the original Stowaway keyboard by being rigid when unfolded, and hence better for lap use. I'll like that! Also, both are very compact, which will be nice. But I think I'll miss the full 19mm key spacing of the original keyboard.

Both the Palm Ultra-Thin and the Belkin G700 make compromises for compactness. The Ultra-Thin sacrifices the row of number keys, but only trims the key spacing by 5%, to 18mm (vs. 19mm std). The Belkin G700 keeps the number key row but trims the key spacing by 10%, to 17mm.

I don't know what the tighter key spacing is going to do to my touch typing speed/accuracy, especially on the G700, and I fear that I would miss the number keys on the Ultra-Thin (though, truth be told, I'm not really a very good touch typist for number keys, anyhow).

An epinions reviewer says that the Ultra-Thin key combinations for typing numbers are designed with a bias for right-handed people, but I'm right-handed, so that doesn't sound like a problem for me.

The two keyboards fold down to almost exactly the same tiny size. The G700 is in 3 sections, the Ultra-Thin is in 2 sections, but the folded-up sizes are very similar: 3.74x5.83x.55" for the Belkin G700 vs. 3.9x5.5x.5" for the Palm Ultra-Thin.

Key travel is 3mm for the UltraThin, and 2mm for the G700. I don't know whether that is a practical advantage for the UltraThin or not. Does anyone know how these two keyboards compare in "feel" when typing?

The G700 apparently has excellent/frugal power consumption. Tong's review says that the G700's power consumption is .5mA when in operation (which I guess means when a key is pressed) and .1?A (essentially zero) when asleep. The NiMH AAA batteries that I use in my old m100 are rated at 750 mAH, and I think even the most power-frugal Palm Pilots must use at least 20 mA while in operation, so this keyboard shouldn't hurt battery life by much at all. The original Palm folding keyboard used about 2.5 mA when a key was depressed or 5?A idle, which seemed to be enough to reduce battery noticably: I could only get a few hours of typing in before having to swap my m100's rechargable batteries. So the G700 sounds better in that respect. However, I can't find power consumption figures for the Ultra-Thin, so I don't know how it compares. It might be just as good.

Somewhere I read comments about the G700 from someone who complained that he had a tendency to accidentally hit the alt key at the right end of the spacebar. As you can see in the picture in Tong's review, the spacebar ends right under the division between the N & M keys. That turns out to be right about where my right thumb tends to press the spacebar. So I'm afraid that I might also have a tendency to hit the Alt instead of (or along with) the spacebar on the G700. Or maybe I'd get used to it?

From the photos of the UltraThin, I can see that the right-hand piece of the split spacebar spans the area below the N and M keys, so I think my hands might like that better.

The G700 also apparently comes with a bonus feature: for rechargable Palm Pilots, you can plug an external charger into the keyboard, and it'll charge the Palm Pilot while you use it. That sounds nice. However, I don't understand how it works with charging cradles. How can you plug a cradle into the keyboard?

Anyhow, does anyone here have an opinion? Which keyboard should I get? Belkin G700 or Palm Ultra-Thin?

Thanks,
-Dave
dave262 at burtonsys.com


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Tong ZhangModerator
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Re: Which keyboard should I buy? Palm UltraThin or Belkin G700? [Re: dave262]
      #14501 - 08/18/04 01:10 AM

I use the Ultra Thin one myself because it's small and easy to carry with me in my gadget bag. I also like the way the keys feel.

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