Casio E-100, E-105, E-115, and E-125
40 K free RAM
First of all, I would like to give a big thanks to:
The Casio Outlet Store
5000 Arizona Mills Circle, Suite 150
Tempe, AZ 85282
Phone: 480-491-9494 Fax: 480-491-9510
For providing the Landware Gotype! Keyboard for review.
For those that aren’t familiar with the Gotype! series of keyboards, they are external keyboards that can be
attached to many PDAs, including several Palm series and Pocket PCs.
Inside the box is a small instruction booklet, a serial cable, a large piece of Styrofoam, and a diskette containing the driver for the Gotype keyboard.
The Gotype! has a very sturdy construction and a nice ergonomic look and feel to it. The only problem is comparing it to the size of the already ‘brick-like’ Casio PPC. The size of the Gotype! is about equal to carrying around three more Casios, its much longer than the Casio and thicker than the Casio in it’s thickest area. And, unless you have REALLY big pockets (like me), you most likely will not walk around with this thing in your pants. So let’s assume that this thing is not for complete, anywhere, portability, and should only be meant for briefcase and home use.
Installation was relatively easy, I inserted the disk into my desktop PC and ran the setup program while my E-125 was connected and synched through it’s cradle. From there it was just basic click yes, OK, yes yes, and I was set to start using the newly installed keyboard.
I attached the keyboard to the Casio and ran the driver enabling program, so that it would recognize the keyboard through the Casio’s proprietary serial slot, and loaded up the first program I could think of, Pocket Word. When trying to do this I noticed that the construction of the keyboard had a minor flaw, balance. While the keyboard itself seems to be constructed pretty solidly, and the unit stands on it’s own even with the Casio resting in it, if you plan on using the stylus for onscreen tapping, you will most likely knock the unit over onto its backside. The only way I found around this (without propping the keyboard up against a bigger, more steady object) was to hold the keyboard with one hand and tap the screen with he other.
Another flaw in the construction was the vibrations and jumpiness of the keyboard while typing. If you are a very fast typist, or you just press the keys very hard, this will be noticed almost instantaneously, and is extremely annoying. The only way around this is to either give up one of your thumbs to be the designated keyboard holder (not fun) or find a large, heavy object to put behind the keyboard to keep it stable. This may sound like a pain, and it is a bit, but I found myself becoming more and more innovative with objects for keyboard-weights, the more I places I tried to use the keyboard, and I was usually able to find a solution in every environment. Still, this seems a bit unnecessary and could have been fixed with just a little more weight on the base of the keyboard, or even a few simple suction cups on the bottom.
I should also mention that the ‘synhcable’ cases such as the Vaja and EB cases, do not work with the Gotype!. Just that tiny, fractional piece of leather that covers the Casio disturbs the connection. I notice that it will connect if you apply just a small amount of pressure to the top of the Casio, forcing it down. But once I removed the pressure, it disconnected. I believe that this could have easily been overcome with a sort of lock-and-release mechanism on the cradle part, similar to the synching cradles that come with most Pocket PCs.
Where the keyboard really shines is the quality of the keys and the keyboard. While the keyboard is a bit reduced in size to that of a normal keyboard, it took me as long as one minute to become accustomed to it and was typing away at my normal typing speed.
The Gotype! Even implements a Numlock keypad, super-imposed over the regular keys (switched on and off with the NUM LOCK key), and works just as a normal Number pad does. Also included are the standard CAPS LOCK, TAB, CTRL, ALT and DEL keys F1-F6 keys, and they even included a START key (however, no right-click key) to resemble a WIN9X keyboard.
The keys on the keyboard are very responsive and have a very nice springy feel to them. It actually reminds me a bit of the action of a Logitech keyboard.
Several of the normal functions of a desktop PC Win9X keyboard shortcuts, e.g. CTRL+ALT+DEL=Task Manager, CTRL+ESC=Start Menu, CTRL+A=Select All, CTRL+Z=Undo, CTRL+V=Paste etc.; have been implemented into the software for this keyboard. However, others, such as ALT+TAB=Task Switch, do not work, which would be very beneficial if they were included. It should be noted that task closing in Windows CE using CTRL+Q does work on the keyboard, and is an extremely fast way to close programs while using the keyboard.
The F1-F6 keys can all be mapped to open any program installed on the device, which is very nice. For example, instead of having to go through Start-Programs-Games-Solitaire, I can just tap the F1 key and have the program opened in the same amount of time. The F keys can also be mapped using Shift-Fkey or Alt-Fkey, giving a total of 18 shortcut keys.
The Gotype! Software also allows you to set the delay until the repeat of a key that is being depressed and the rate/speed at which the key is repeated at.
A unique feature of the Gotype! is the serial port on the side of the keyboard. This port allows the unit to use any type of serial device that is compatible with the PsPC or PPC, e.g. a serial modem or a serial connection to a desktop PC. Basically anything that the serial cradle can do, but it’s attached to a keyboard. The Gotype! also implements a DC adapter in, so you can charge the Casio while it is connected in the keyboards cradle.
This is a great idea, and if it was implemented well, it would be excellent. It would really be nice if I could use the serial out to connect to a serial modem (or cell phone) and use the keyboard in internet applications at the same time, but it’s not possible. Unfortunately, there is a small switch that only let’s the designation of the keyboard to be working or the serial port, but not both at the same time. This is due to the Casio’s hardware limitation of only being able to use the serial port for one thing at a time, which seems to make sense. Therefore, the only real way to browse the net using the keyboard at the same time is by using a Compact Flash modem. I tried this, and it works exactly as it should, having an easily accessible TAB button is such a necessity for me, when I’m on the web.
Overall, I believe that the Landware Gotype! Pro keyboard is a nice extra to have for the Casio. Especially for those that use a lot of applications that require keyboard input. It is a perfect thing to have sitting in your briefcase or on your desk at home, to continue those emails you started tapping out in the business meeting, during lunch, or in the cab/subway ride home, etc. The biggest gripe I have is with the portability. With the size of the Goype! Combined with the Casio, you’ve got very close comparison to, if not a larger size than, a sub-compact laptop. Which defeats the purpose of the PPC. This combined with the fact that you really can’t rest the keyboard and Casio on your lap, due to the unbalanced weight issue. And it definitely won’t fit in your pocket, along with your PPC. Still, it is a neat little gadget to have around if you have the extra cash.
Wonderful for typing applications
Application shortcut keys
Feels like a real keyboard
Doubles as a serial cradle
Unbalanced, top heavy
Will not work with synchable cases such as the EB Slipper Case
Cannot use the serial port and the keyboard at the same time
Not very portable, about the size of 3 more Casios
A bit pricey at 80 dollars