to the web site
Palm Vx (Q-Pad models are available for other PDAs)
like Graffiti - the handwriting recognition language built
into Palm OS. On the other hand, Graffiti has two important
limitations - speed of use (how fast you can print letters)
and cramped fingers which occur during extended use of the
very thin stylus supplied with most PalmOS-based personal
digital assistants (PDAs). On yet another hand, there are
faster cursive recognition systems available as software add-ons
for PalmOS. Unfortunately, none of the add-ons translate cursive
into editable text (PDAs simply don't contain the massive
processing horsepower needed for such a task), so the cursive
remains in image format; almost useless in other words.
gaze longingly at users of Research In Motion's (RIM) BlackBerry
wireless device. The thumb keyboard on the BlackBerry is well-designed,
requires only a few minutes to learn and makes ergonomic sense.
Typing speed is limited only by your reflexes and eye-hand
coordination. I WANT A THUMB KEYBOARD FOR MY SONY CLIE PEG-360!
(Ed. Note: Sony released one subsequent to this review,
but they're hard to find).
the Q-Pad. It's a keyboard built into a slim leather case
about the size of a typical flip-open PDA case. The case has
a custom fitted Palm Vx attachment port and clamp. The upper
section of the Q-Pad features a spring-loaded stand which
props up a mounted PDA at a 40 degree angle. Q-Pad is also
available for the Handspring Visor Edge. New Q-Pad models
for other popular PDAs are scheduled for release during 2002.
Q-Pad comes with a floppy disk which contains the software
driver (PRC file) for the keyboard. Double clicking the PRC
file will place it in the add-on dialog in the Palm Desktop.
The PRC will install at the next HotSync. The PRC provides
settings for the key repeat rate, repeat delay, on/off for
the audible beep and a checkbox to enable and disable the
Q-Pad. A 4-fold, half-page printed brochure is supplied as
the User's Guide.
best way to use Q-Pad is to place the PDA side on a desk or
table and hold the keyboard side in both hands off the edge
of the desk or table, using the keyboard with your thumbs.
This technique doesn't work well at meetings however - you
always need one hand free. The other solution is to place
the whole Q-Pad flat on a desk or table and use one or both
hands to type. When standing, hold the PDA side in one hand
and type with the other.
spending a week with the Q-Pad - a total of over 10 hours
of use - I'm hooked on the product. Develop a Q-Pad with a
good belt clip and a HotSync/re-charge port and I'll never
go back to a plain PDA. The keyboard seems durable enough
and has already withstood several drops. A bit of experimentation
is required before you can consistently hit the Space key
properly. When running the calculator, I generally use my
fingers rather than the stylus to tap numbers and symbols
directly on the main screen. This eventually mucks up the
screen of course. Q-Pad's numeric keypad works well and prevents
your screen from getting covered in fingerprints.
A few ergonomic flaws in the review unit: no backslash or
tilde keys (both are important for technical notes); the open
and close parenthesis are shifted with the 9 and 0 which in
the Q-Pad layout are on opposite corners of the numeric keypad
(which also means that open parenthesis is on the right while
close is on the left - just the opposite of what they should
be); keys labeled "AE" which have nothing to do
with data entry (they're used for field shifts); the numeric
keypad is too far to the left as a result of the location
of the "AE" and tab keys. You have to remove the
PDA from Q-Pad in order to HotSync or re-charge. Better docs
please - there's no online help and the alleged 'User Guide'
is completely basic: no mention anywhere that pressing "C"
on the keyboard clears the calculator or that hitting the
delete arrow clears entries; after much button pressing we
discovered that "E" on the keypad accessed exponents
and that "S" as well as "-" is used for
Once you get used to it, Q-Pad is much faster than Graffiti
- after a week of regular use, I managed to clock 35 words
per minute vs. 18 using Graffiti. If thinkDevice Co. comes
up with a Q-Pad that also has a belt clip and a rear port
for HotSyn/re-charge, it will have developed the perfect case/keyboard
combo. Go for it - I'll take two please! We think the Q-Pad
is a great idea. Look for improved Q-Pads for other Palm models
soon. For now, Q-Pad is available for Palm Vx and Handspring
Visor Edge. (Ed. Note: the Q-Pad models released after
this review are a huge ergonomic improvement over the review
to the Editor are welcome and occasionally abused in public.
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