Folding keyboard eases word processing

Folding keyboard eases word processing

Personal digital assistants are data-entry constrained. Their handwriting recognizers and stylus-controlled virtual keyboards limit you to a handful of words per minute. But portable keyboards such as the Stowaway Portable Keyboard from Targus Inc. loosen the chains.

After transferring special software to the PDA, you unfold the wallet-size device, push its ends together so the keys meet, and reposition a serial connector and support. Push the PDA down onto it so that the docking port connects, load Pocket Word, and you have a decent word processor, with words flying by at near-normal speed on the conveniently angled screen.

You can use the keyboard in other applications, but you need the stylus for most menu operations'left- and right-corner wells let you keep the stylus nearby'and there are incompatibilities between the Stowaway and the PDA's virtual keyboard.

Function keys let you instantly load the main PocketPC applications, and you can program keystroke macros.

One caveat: If you can't find a fairly flat surface, the Stowaway won't sit right; you might need a noncollapsible board instead. But at $99, the Targus Stowaway is a worthy tool for users who yearn to use their PDAs as regular PCs.

'David Essex

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