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Stowaway Keyboard
Friday March 31, 2000 - 1:19 AM EST - By James Hromadka


General tabSetup of the Stowaway keyboard is easy.  Install the Keyboard application into your Visor, make sure the "Enable Stowaway" option is checked, then turn off your Visor and insert it into the keyboard.  Turn your Visor on, and you're in business.  Folding and unfolding the Stowaway takes a minimum of effort and is sure to gain attention the first time people see you use the keyboard in a meeting.

Command tabAny application that uses text input can use the Stowaway keyboard.  Applications that allow use of the Command key will let you use the stylus less often.  In using a keyboard with the Visor, the stylus becomes more like a traditional mouse.  One thing I like about the Stowaway keyboard is that it reduces the need for the stylus by allowing you to use both the Ctrl and Cmd keys to activate a button on the screen.  For example, in the Datebook+ application you will see a Go button on the screen.  There is no command stroke to activate it, but you can press Ctrl+Cmd+G to select that button without needing the stylus.  Some buttons, like Ok and Cancel have Fn-assigned keys on the keyboard so there are less keys to press.  You can also assign applications to the 1-9 numbers so that you can press Cmd then the number to launch the application.

Shortcut keys tabAnother great thing about the Stowaway is that there are other combinations that allow you to actually use this keyboard as you would the traditional desktop keyboard.  When I first tried out the Stowaway, the only thing I saw that was really missing was the Home/End keys.  The Keyboard application has a handy list of "Shortcuts" (not to be confused with the Shortcut stroke) for various key combinations.  Using this list, I found that instead of the Home/End keys, I need to use Cmd and the left or right arrow keys to jump to the beginning or end of a line.  There are shortcut keys for many actions, including inserting various special characters like £ (Fn+p).

Typing on the Stowaway is very easy because the keys are standard size, and your hands are less likely to cramp while typing.  I found no noticeable slowdown when typing, and if I just banged away garbage on the keyboard, the text caught up very quickly.  The layout of the keyboard is very intuitive, but some lefties will no doubt wish that the Fn and Cmd keys would have also been on the right side.  I really like the inverted T arrow keys and the button keys.

Left side view of Visor on closed StowawayI will put one fear to rest by saying that the Stowaway works fine when it is in your lap.  The keyboard may bend slightly as you type, but it still performs adequately.  It also works well when it is on a desk and there is a small notepad underneath one of the sides of the keyboard.  The Stowaway works great when taking notes in a class or in a business meeting.  For someone who rarely writes anything by hand anymore (outside of a signature and Graffiti™), the Stowaway is a welcome accessory.

Stowaway w/ VisorAbout the only thing that the Stowaway keyboard may be missing is a pass through to allow you to sync the Visor while it is in the keyboard like the GoType! Pro keyboard does.  Make sure that you go inside the Preferences application and turn Beam Receive on for the Stowaway keyboard to work.  This is a problem with the Visor, as other keyboards have this issue as well.  Also, the Tab key is actually the "Next field" key, allowing you to jump to the next entry field in applications like AddressBook.  To insert a tab while typing, press Fn+Tab.  It would be nice to have an option to change this for people that do a lot of formatting when they type.

One wish that I have is that PalmOS developers would take into consideration keyboards when writing applications.  Some applications do not allow use of the arrow keys, and the PalmOS does not allow you to bring up the Menu and then use the arrow keys to select an item.  This limitation does not cripple the use of the Stowaway, as you can always use the stylus to select an item.  Hopefully, as keyboards are more widely and commonly used, developers will make sure that they are utilized effectively in their applications.

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Stowaway Keyboard

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Product Details
Name: Stowaway Keyboard
Company: Targus
Size: Open - 13.8"x5.1"x0.3",
Closed - 3.6"x5.1"x0.8"
Keyboard layout: Full-size QWERTY
Key spacing: 19mm horizontally and vertically
Key travel: 3mm
Weight: 7.9 oz.
HotSync in Keyboard: No
Price: $99.95

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