SnapNType iPAQ 3600 Series Thumb Board Review

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Product Requirements:
Compaq iPAQ 3630, 3635, 3650, 3670
642K driver

Palm devices seem to have keyboards coming out the wazoo (yes, that’s a
technical term)…
There is the Stowaway, GoType!, Seiko ThumBoard, and SnapNType just to name a
few. Pocket PCs on the other hand, lag quite a bit behind with Stowaway and GoType! being the major players as far as full sized keyboards. Until now
though, there were no thumb board style offerings for the Pocket PC other than
the HP Jornada 560 series. The SnapNType 3600 Series keyboard from TT Tech LTD.
is the first iPAQ thumb board. It is a unique snap-on input device that is
compatible with the 3600 series Compaq iPAQ (a 3800 series version is on the

The SnapNType is a very sturdy module that has a thick plastic shell that
doesn’t flex or creak when you use it. The shell portion of the device is mostly
black with a silver front. The sides are painted black to match the look of an
iPAQ with an expansion pack. A black plastic cover protects the cavity and
connector that the iPAQ snaps into when the keyboard is not attached to it.
There is also a connector release button on the back of the keyboard that has to
be pressed in order to detach the keyboard. The thing is, I can’t figure out
for the life of me what that button actually does. Pressing it doesn’t produce
any obvious action that I can see… But pressing it is the only way the
keyboard will come off. Wacky. It’s also important to note that you have to use
an expansion sleeve with the SnapNType. Otherwise the iPAQ will not fit securely
and will flop around in the cavity. I tested the keyboard with the Basic Style Pack,
CF Expansion Pack,
Silver Slider 2, Silver Slider with no
arms, and the Whitney
Backpack mod
. Only the Basic Pack and CF Expansion Pack worked due to the
plastic arms around the bottom sides of the iPAQ. Without these arms, the
connection is very unstable.

I didn’t have a problem with actually holding the iPAQ / SnapNType combo.
Although the two items are a bigger handful than a Palm / SnapNType combo, they
are still relatively comfortable to hold and use despite the bulk.

There are 39 individual keys on the SnapNType. All of these keys are made of a
hard rubber material with white and orange silk-screened labels. The keys are
small, but are large enough to press with the tips of your thumbs. All of the keys are
stiff, but do have a slight tactile feedback to them. The letter keys are laid out in
format which makes the keyboard easy and familiar to use if you are already a
touch typist.

Because the SnapNType covers the joy pad and application buttons while it is
attached to the iPAQ, the bottom row of buttons on the keyboard are assigned to
the Calendar, Contacts, Windows Start, Q Menu and Q Start. Luckily, these
buttons are mapped to whatever assignment you’ve already made for the 4
application buttons on the iPAQ.

Before you can actually start using the SnapNType, you must first install a
driver on the PDA. This driver allows you to enable and disable the keyboard,
enable typewriter type sounds, as well as adjust the repeat rate and delay rate for
repeating letters when holding down a key. Unlike some keyboard and Palm
devices, you do not need to manually enable and disable the keyboard driver in
order to sync and / or beam with the IR port.

Overall, regular typing on the SnapNType is probably going to be fine for
most people. That said, I did find that I had a little trouble with the
placement of a couple of the more important keys. I guess I should start out by
saying that I’m really used to a full sized keyboard such as the Stowaway. The keys that I had problems
with were the ".", Backspace, and Return keys. The "."
key has to be accessed with a function key press. I find this to be very
inconvenient. The Backspace key
is the rightmost key in the larger horizontal oval key row. That location just
doesn’t feel natural to me when I need to use it. I would much prefer it to be
located at the top right of the keyboard. The location of the Return key
isn’t as annoying to me, but I think I would prefer it to be on the right edge
of the QWERTY board instead of being the next to last button on the bottom row
of letter keys.

Some buttons that would be nice to have that aren’t included on the keyboard
would be a SELECT, CANCEL and OK button. As it is, you have to keep your
stylus handy to tap the screen when those options pop up.

You also need to keep your stylus handy for the FaceBoard popup. The
FaceBoard is a pick list of smiles / emoticons and symbols that are not
accessible by pressing the symbol button and desired key. Although I find this
to be a nifty addition to the product… especially for emails, it would be
great if you could use the actual keyboard to activate them instead of the
stylus. It would also have been nice if the popup would have included
international characters.

You can actually type pretty quickly with the SnapNType. Of course, if you
are a touch typist, it’s not going to come close to the same speed (at least not
for me). I think the SnapNType is a good input solution for tasks such as short
email writing or on the go memo editing. I’m not sure I would personally want to
use it for lengthy input sessions though. For those tasks, I really prefer a regular
keyboard such as the Stowaway. However, the
SnapNType is a good alternative to the Stowaway when you do not have a flat
surface available to you.

The SnapNType is a well made unit at a pretty good price. If you find yourself yearning for a compact style keyboard, you
just might
want to give this one a try.

Price: $49.99

No batteries required
Solid construction

No access to international characters
Typing a "." requires a function key press
Still need a stylus to select items etc.


Product Information

Manufacturer:TT Tech
  • No batteries required
  • Solid construction
  • Compact
  • No access to international characters
  • Typing a "." requires a function key press
  • Still need a stylus to select items etc.

About The Author

5 thoughts on “SnapNType iPAQ 3600 Series Thumb Board Review”

  1. Gadgeteer Comment Policy - Please read before commenting
  2. I got one that looks identical for $10.95.

    I made a Treo cable for it but I guess it just doesn’t supply enough current to charge properly. I could get the Treo charging light to come on, though cranking for several minutes still didn’t give me any benefit. Too bad — it’s a pretty compact, though noisy (think electric shaver), device.

  3. The hand-e-charger is NOT the same product, although as you said it looks the same. The internal circuit is quite different – the model we tested isn’t voltage regulated and it doesn’t have an LED light that stays lit after you charge, and the gears are very noisy (as you stated). I believe the LED was orange, not a highbright white.

    We are the designers/manufacturers of the SideWinder product. It is available in select retailers (Brookstone, for example) in specialty catalogs (Hammacher-Schlemmer, Realgoods, Wind & Weather, Mountain Gear, for examples) and direct from us if you cannot find it. See us at for more reviews, cables, and online ordering. MSRP is $24.95

    Thanks !!


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