Sony CLIÉ T, NR Series PDAs
23k PRC driver
Sony CLIÉ owners have little to choose from if they want a physical keyboard
for their PDA. There is the Belkin G700
and the just recently released popular
folding keyboard for CLIÉ PDAs from
those two devices are full-size (or close to it) keyboards though. Smaller thumb
style keyboard availability for the CLIÉ is another matter. There is the
NR70 series with its built-in thumb
keyboard. But, what about T Series users? Their only option is the PEGA-KB20
Mini Keyboard which is manufactured by Sony.
Brando Workshop was kind enough to send
me a sample for review. The sample I was sent was the Japanese version, so the
driver may be slightly different for the US version.
The Mini Keyboard is just that… mini. I think it is the smallest thumb style
keyboard for any PDA that I’ve seen to date. Its size makes it extremely
portable. It even comes with a nifty plastic storage box to store it in when it
is not attached to your CLIÉ.
Like most thumb style keyboards, this one slides onto the bottom of the PDA and
attaches to the serial connector and does not require batteries. Unlike other
boards that I’ve reviewed though, this one is adjustable to an extent. The
serial connector is not built into the board. It hangs off of a short cable. The
board slides onto the bottom of the PDA and is held in place by a spring loaded
soft plastic bumpers which grip the sides. You can easily slide the keyboard up
and down till it feels just right.
On T series PDAs, the board covers most the application buttons and more
importantly the power button. Luckily any key that you press on the keyboard
will turn the unit on when it is off. Unfortunately, I can’t figure out how to
turn the unit off with a combination of key presses.
Depending how far you slide the keyboard up, you can leave most of the
graffiti area uncovered. This keyboard also works with the NR series. With it,
you can barely side the board onto the bottom and still have access to the
graffiti area. I actually like using this keyboard MUCH better than the one
built into my NR70V.
Before you can use the keyboard, you must first install a small driver. The
driver I installed on both my T615C and NR70V was the Japanese driver, so I
don’t know how it differs from the US version. The version I used had only 2
check boxes. As far as I could tell, the only options that they controlled was
to enable/disable the board and to turn key press sounds on and off.
One REALLY nice thing about the driver that I want to mention is the fact
that you do NOT need to manually disable the driver in order to beam or sync.
Doing both works just fine while the keyboard is enabled.
The keyboard is made of plastic and has a flat surface with 50 keys which are
arranged in the standard keyboard layout. The main alphabet keys are made of
hard slick white plastic and are slightly domed in shape. 8 application buttons
are also included which are purple and flat. Although the buttons are small and
close together, I didn’t find them difficult to press. They all have great
tactile feedback, so you know when you’ve actually pressed one.
The button layout is fair. For the most part, I had no problems typing normal
words and sentences. But, when I needed certain punctuation characters such as /
– _ and @’s, I had to search around on the keyboard to see which function key
combination was required for the character I needed. This is typical with most
thumb style keyboards though. There just isn’t enough real estate for every
button like on a full sized keyboard.
The PEGA-KB20 does not have a separate numeric section. Numbers are accessed
with a Function key / Letter combo. But, there is a NUM lock button combination
that you can use when you want to input a large set of numbers. When it is
invoked, you will see an underlined numeral 1 at the bottom right of the screen.
The keyboard does not have a way to enter special characters either.
I have two main gripes with the Mini Keyboard. The first gripe is with the
Space Bar. Instead of being in the middle of the board (which could have easily
been done), it is located on the bottom left. After awhile I finally got used to
this position, but I still wished it was in the middle.
My second gripe, and probably what I like lease about the keyboard is the absence
of an OK button. Due to this omission, you have to have your stylus handy to get
past certain screens. It can get annoying at times. Luckily, you can use the
BACK button on the CLIÉ itself as a CANCEL button to get back to the previous
At $50, this peripheral seems to be just a bit overpriced. However, the
PEGA-KB20 Mini Keyboard is a well made conveniently sized thumb style keyboard
that allows you to easily enter text into your CLIÉ anywhere, and anytime. I am
still a big fan of the full sized Stowaway, but for you thumb board users out
there, this little guy does get the job done and is your only option at this
Ability to beam and sync while driver is enabled
No batteries required
Covers power button on T Series CLIÉs
No OK button