Bluetooth enabled PDAs and Smart phones
Bluetooth Keyboard now has a competitor.
Brando is selling a similarly sized
product named the Smart Keyboard. Priced $50 cheaper, what does this
keyboard have that might make you purchase it over ThinkOutside’s offering? Keep
2 AAA Batteries
Zippered vinyl carrying case
CD with drivers
Quick Install Guide
QWERTY keyboard layout with dedicated number keys. (5 rows of keys)
10 dedicated programmable hot keys.
Lock open for stability.
Dimensions folded : 140 x 95 x 19 mm
Dimensions Open : 280 x 95 x 9.5 mm
Weight : 205gm
Top to bottom: ThinkOutside’s Universal Keyboard, Brando’s
Made of silver plastic with black accents, this keyboard has a sturdy robust
feel to it. Unlike the Universal Keyboard, it’s not that hard to immediately
figure out how to open. A black sliding latch located on the side of the
keyboard easily unlocks the keyboard so that it can open like a book. A slider
at the bottom of the frame pushes the left half of the keyboard over to meet the
right half. Another slider at the top locks the keyboard into an open flat
position. In this position, the Smart Keyboard is not quite as rigid as the
Universal Keyboard. That said, it will work perfectly fine on a flat surface.
Left and right sections apart
Left and right sections together
The two included AAA alkaline batteries can be installed by removing a cover
located at the top of the frame. A small power switch at the bottom left allows
you to manually turn the keyboard on or off. An LED under the power switch
blinks Green while the keyboard is in use.
Before you can use the keyboard with your Pocket PC, Palm or Smart Phone, you
will have to install the included driver.
After installation, it’s just a matter of activating the keyboard in the
driver, turning on the keyboard via the power switch and enabling Bluetooth on
your PDA / Phone. With my HX4700, the keyboard was recognized pretty much
immediately, and was ready for use.
For those of you that like to assign applications to function key
combinations, you can set up 10 different apps to launch when holding the Fn and
a number key.
The first time I went to use the Smart Keyboard with my Pocket PC, I was
annoyed by the lack of a stand for the PDA. It’s a good thing I went to Brando’s
site and happened to click on another review of this product. In the review the
author talked about the slide out stand. I was like "what slide out stand?!"…
But upon a little closer investigation, I found it. There’s a little lip on the
top right side that pulls out and swivels around to create a stand. Pretty nifty
design actually. The stand works well in both landscape and portrait
The Smart Keyboard has one thing going for it that the ThinkOutside Universal
Keyboard does not. The addition of a dedicated numeric and punctuation key top
row. That gives this keyboard 5 rows instead of just 4 like the Universal
Keyboard. There are also a total of 63 keys.
The keys are definitely smaller than the Universal’s. Touch typists may find
them too small. I had a bit of trouble with them myself. Nothing I couldn’t get
used to though if I wanted to work at it. Hunt and peck typist should have no
problems at all with this keyboard.
So here’s the thing… There are only three real advantages that the Smart Keyboard has
over the Universal keyboard. One is the addition of the 5th row of keys. For someone
that plans to type a lot of numbers, or a lot of !@#$%^&*()_+’s, that might be a
deciding factor on the purchase of this input device. Another reason is that
this keyboard is compatible with with Bluetooth enabled Palm OS PDAs. The
Universal Keyboard currently is not. And the last reason is price.
For me personally, the
full-size keys of the Universal Keyboard keep me from making the switch to the
Smart Keyboard. If the
smaller keys don’t bother you, or you have a Palm OS PDA then the Brando Smart Keyboard is a good product
that can easily give your Pocket PC, Palm PDA or Smart Phone the data input
power of a larger bulkier computer.
Small, compact size
Dedicated numeric / punctuation key row
Slightly unstable to use on lap