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My Review of the FA302A#AC3 iPAQ Thumb Keyboard

Last response: in Cell Phones & Smartphones
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Anonymous
March 18, 2005 10:05:30 PM

Archived from groups: microsoft.public.pocketpc (More info?)

Trying this again.

My Review of the FA302A#AC3 iPAQ Thumb Keyboard

http://h30143.www3.hp.com/images/options/FA302A.jpg

I ordered the keyboard which retails for $49.99 but can be found for
as low as $43.99 from YesMicro ($46.99 from amazon.com). As usual for
HP products, a very small markup over the distributor price of $41.99.

The item comes with:

Drivers disk (v1.0 at time of writing) including manual in PDF format
Thumb keyboard
3 Adapters (sleeves to fit different models of iPAQ)
Quickstart guide

"The Thumb Keyboard has a one-year warranty or the remainder of the HP
product in which it is installed." This makes it sound like you lose
your warranty if you put it into an iPAQ that is past it's warranty.

The driver disk has installers in the following languages:

BRAZIL
FRENCH
GERMAN
ITAILAN
SPANISH
US

I don't think Brazil and US are languages, but I didn't make it.

The driver requires active sync unless you know how to unpackage a
windows setup. After installed, you can find that the drivers are
installed from iPAQMicroKeyboard.ARM.CAB v1.0. I always look for the
latest drivers for a piece of hardware before trying the drivers off
of the CD that came with it. After about 2 hours of searching, I gave
up. I couldn't even find the v1.0 drivers online, so don't lose your
disc. After the drivers are installed on the iPAQ, you can attach the
keyboard.

The device requires some assembly. There's an adapter (plastic sleeve)
to make the device fit your specific iPAQ model. It comes with three
different adapters. Use the one marked for your iPAQ (duh).

hx4700
hx2000
rz1700

Once the device is in the adapter, just line up the jack with your
sync port and slide the keyboard over the bottom of your iPAQ. Now,
here's where the problems start. Unlike your usual sync cable that
locks into place on the port, the keyboard doesn't lock. It comes back
off very easily, and could easily cause problems. It seems like a
major design flaw to me. It's supposed to fit over your iPAQ if you
have an extended battery, but I haven't tested it.

What's interesting is that the manual for the keyboard says to slide
your pocket pc into the keyboard. This makes it sound like the
keyboard is the parent. I say that you're plugging the keyboard into
the iPAQ, not the iPAQ into the keyboard. Semantics, I know.

Once the keyboard is attached, you need to start the application on
the iPAQ (Start -> Programs -> iPAQ Thumb Keyboard) and check the
Enable Keyboard button.

There are some settings that you can configure, and I'll mention them,
because you can't find this information anywhere except the manual
(after you buy it).

Enable Keyboard check box
Enable Sound check box
Delay until repeat slider
Key repeat rate slider

The keyboard has two function keys to get special characters. A blue
function key and an orange function key. There's also a shift key, and
a ctrl key. There's a caps lock and windows key, but they are accessed
with the blue function key first. The worst thing is that tab, a key
often needed for data entry (hence the need for a keyboard) is only
accessed with the blue function key. It should have it's own unshifted
key. Additionally, I don't know about everyone else, but I need easy
access to the period and slash keys for doing internet address and
directory stuff. These are also only available via the blue function
key. And the functioned slash key is no where near where it should be
on a standard qwerty keyboard. I often use the hyphen key for command
shell params, and again with the blue function key.

The keys have a pleasant "click" when you press them that gives you
some nice feedback. Unfortunately, it's not accurate. Just because you
feel the click, doesn't mean that the key press was registered. I
found that you really need to press firmly in order to ensure accurate
typing. So what's the point of the click for feedback? It turns typing
into a chore.

Also note that if you bought a fancy case (or a not so fancy one),
make sure that you can take it out of the case easily enough to make
easy use of this keyboard. If you don't have a case for your hx2000
and are using the plastic flip up cover that comes with it, the cover
won't close all the way with the keyboard attached (which should be
obvious).

Overall, compared to the thumb keyboard built into a few pocket PCs
and palms that I've tried, this keyboard is a poor substitution and I
will be sticking to letter recognition and the standard virtual
keyboard. If you need a thumb keyboard, make sure that your plans
include a device that has one built in.

---
Mark A.
!