FrogPad Ion PC USB Mobile Keyboard

Quick look

Compact mobile keyboard

Price: $99.99 for USB version

Phone: 713-960-9611


FrogPad Ion PC USB Mobile Keyboard

According to the user's manual, the FrogPad has 'broken the QWERTY code.' Indeed, this keyboard from FrogPad Inc. of Houston is one of the most unusual you'll ever see.

The keyboard has 15 main keys and five toggle keys, all packaged neatly and compactly in a frame just slightly larger than a standard 3- by 5-inch index card.

The keys offer very comfortable resistance and play, and the device itself has a solid, quality feel. And for those with a fondness for frog green, the product is attractively packaged.

FrogPad has managed to achieve the functionality of a standard 101-key keyboard with only 20 keys by assigning as many as seven functions to a single key. Multiple functions are managed by simultaneously pressing one of the 15 main keys and one (or in some rare cases, two) of the toggle keys.

The letters themselves are not arranged in the standard QWERTY layout, which, after all, would require a lot more keys. Instead, letters are set out according to how often they are used in English. Vowels and common consonants require no use of the toggle keys, and the most commonly used letters are placed on the home row of keys and surrounding the strongest fingers.

FrogPad claims it is easy to learn this new layout, but I found it quite challenging. Even after a week of use, I was hunting and pecking around the FrogPad. I can easily touch-type 60 wpm on a QWERTY keyboard. I never got much past 20 wpm on the FrogPad.

I found the FrogPad slower and less natural to use than even the minuscule QWERTY keyboard on a Palm, PocketPC or BlackBerry. Other versions of the FrogPad come with Bluetooth support and are designed for use with handheld PCs. But if you enter a lot of text, I'd recommend a folding, full-size keyboard over the FrogPad'unless you are willing to invest a lot of time in mastering the FrogPad layout.

The responsive, full-size keys of the FrogPad are much better than those on my notebook PC, which has smaller keys and a mushy feel. But I still prefer the comfort and familiarity of my notebook's standard QWERTY keyboard.

Even if you hunt and peck when you type, it will take a lot of hunting and pecking before you're as comfortable with the FrogPad as with a standard keyboard.

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