Stowaway PDA Keyboard – Review


As I mentioned in my Jornada review, one of the reasons I liked my old Psion was the fact that it had a built-in keyboard. Character recognition is fine for making the odd note, or entering a sentence or two in an e-mail but good as it is, it can get tedious after 20 minutes or so. This is where the Stowaway keyboard comes in.

The Stowaway keyboard is a portable full size keyboard for use with the HP Jornada or Compaq iPAQ. I have a Jornada, and as such, this review is based on that model, although my understanding is that there is little, or no difference between the two models.

Measuring at about 130 by 90 by 20mm when packed, the Stowaway is slightly larger than a PocketPC. However it’s still small enough to be carried around, although if you also carry the PocketPC and a mobile phone, then you’ll fast run out of pockets! I tend to keep mind in my briefcase, and use it if I’m at a clients where I need to take notes.

The keyboard comes with a software driver that is easily installed to the PocketPC via the standard install method. Installation was extremely painless, and the keyboard was up and running within a couple of minutes.

The side of the Stowaway reveals a single catch, which when released allows the keyboard to spring apart. The keyboard is folded into a “W” shape, being split into four quarters. The two center quarters align up immediately, and the two end quarters are then slid towards the center to lock the keyboard together.

At the back and middle of the keyboard is a connector that connects directly to the bottom of the Jornada; a stand also pops up from the underside of the Stowaway, which holds the Jornada at a usable angle. A power input is also at the back of the keyboard so you are able to run the on external power if required.

Step 1 – Press the release catch


Step 2 – Unfold


Step 3 – Lie flat & Push sides together

Considering how small this keyboard folds up, it is remarkable usable. Key travel is obviously not what you’re used to on a desktop PC, but I’ve used notepads with less key travel, and it has a reasonable quality feel to it. As with many notepad keyboards, the “Enter” key is smaller than a standard keyboard, as is the space bar. These can be annoying at first, but it’s something you soon get used to.

Four function keys are located on the left side of the keyboard, giving 8 functions with the use of the “Fn” key. These default to standard applications such as “Inbox”, “Contacts” etc, but can be programmed via software.

Conclusion – If James Bond used a keyboard, he’d use a Stowaway. If you want to type for a reasonable amount of time on your PocketPC then the Stowaway is a must. Not to mention the looks of astonishment you’ll get when you unfold the thing! In all honestly, I’m not very often in a situation where I need to use it, but on the few occasions I have been, it’s been well worthwhile.

Approximate Price £83.00 Available From Insight

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