As a roving correspondent for the CAD (computer-aided design) world, I desire the lightest device for writing and communicating with. Carrying a multi-pound laptop, power connector, and additional cables and backup devices is not pleasant.
I experienced the ultimate device back in 2000, of all things. Then, I had a Palm Pilot, a clip-on modem, and a Stowaway keyboard. This keyboard was comfortable to type on, yet folded down to a size that was the same of the Palm Pilot itself, with its 4” screen. (See image at left.) During a conference, I would type my report (in real time) into the Palm Pilot’s memo software, then during breaks return to my hotel room to upload the content with the modem, connected to the room’s telephone. (WiFi at hotels would not become common for several more years, let alone be free universally free.)
With the demise of the Palm Pilot, the Stowaway went away. There was an attempt to resurrect it with Bluetooth as the universal connector, but as best as I can tell, it never come to completion.
So, I am pretty happy with the modern day equivalent, HP’s X2 13” tablet with detachable keyboard. Its keyboard, however, is missing crucial keys for me: Insert and PrtScr. (They are accessed by three-key substitutes, which is unacceptable.)
I wondered, could I go lighter than the X2? How about an 8” Android tablet or mini iPad with some kind of foldable Bluetooth keyboard. Even lighter: my smartphone with its 6.2” screen.
So I hunted and was surprised to learn that fold-up keyboards still exist, and that there are many of them. Being that there are many of them made it hard for me to pick one out. My primary concern was that the keyboard be full size, yet compact. Many of them are too small. I finally picked out one made by ProtoArc. Here is what model XK01 ($70) looks like, semi-unfolded:
Folding keyboard from ProtoArc
- Full size keyboard with numeric keypad (no separate cursor key area)
- Fame that folds half-size, and stays together with a magnetic clasp
- Scissor-switch low-profile key caps that feel pretty good for typing
- Has the required Ins and PrtScr keys
- Connects to three Bluetooth devices thru bright-orange dedicated keys, and works with Windows, MacOS, Android, and iOS devices
- Charges with a USB-C connector (cable included)
On the down side:
- Keys are not backlit
- The USB-C cable does not act as a keyboard cable
- No feet to tilt the keyboard at an angle
- Does not lock into place when opened, but the unfolding mechanism makes it possible to type on my knees
I've got a nice little Microsoft Universal Keyboard that was originally purchased to use with my Windows Phone, but could Bluetooth to any device. Unfortunately, the built in battery is long dead, no longer holds a charge, but it can run off a powerpack. I found a breakdown video on YT to replace the battery but is an obscure spec, not easily available any more :(
I used to take on bike trips as a mobile email/blogging platform, but now carry a 1st gen Surface Go which Microsoft are trying to make obsolete by locking out of Windows 11...
Another example of perfectly good hardware being retired long before its time...
Posted by: RobiNZ | Mar 16, 2023 at 11:20 PM