Reviews: Other

iConcepts PDA Keyboard

     CompUSA recently had the iConcepts PDA Mini Keyboard on sale for under $20.  I decided to pick one up since it was at such a low price and came in versions for the iPAQ, Palm devices, Handspring devices, and Sony devices.  A keyboard is a great solution for inputting your information faster, though with this keyboard, getting faster input could take some practice.
    With my recent purchase of an iPAQ, I had been considering buying a keyboard so I could use my device in my college life to take notes with.  I have some friends that use their device with a keyboard, and it tends to work great for them.  iConcepts makes a simple and small foldable keyboard for a large array of devices (though there are various models of the keyboard for the different device connections).  The PDA Mini Keyboard is a very compact 70-key keyboard.  One thing many people might not like about this keyboard is that it uses buttons instead of keys.  The can be hard to get used to because of the different feel, and the keys are much smaller.  The depth of the keyboard is also compressed down which can cause some problems for people with large hands.  The buttons to press easily and work well, though I do feel that in some ways, the keyboard was split in a bad place (the H key should be on the right side).
     One nice thing about this keyboard is its small size.  It really isn't much bigger than my iPAQ, and certainly doesn't weigh as much.  This keyboard is very easy to carry with you in another pocket or in the second pouch of a larger PDA case. The design of the shell is rounded and sleek to fit with the design of most PDA's.  It only folds once, and there is a lock on the outside to keep it closed when it isn't in use. This keyboard also takes no batteries and uses very little of your PDA's battery life.  
Your PDA will fit tight into its connection to the keyboard and is held upright by support from the back similar to that of other keyboards.  Though the keyboard doesn't put your device right in the middle, it is only slightly off center and doesn't turn out to be that big of an user.  There is however a connection issue with the iPAQ (and could happen with other devices as well).  The mechanism the locks the keyboard closed causes the iPAQ to not sit right if the lock is in the locked position.  You can simply push the lock open slightly to get the device to go in right, but it is surprising that this would be left to interfere with the device.  You also can't connect your iPAQ if the power cord is plugged in, nor if you are using a expansion sleeve.
    The iConcepts PDA Mini Keyboard is regularly price at $50, though with recent rebates it has been priced as low as $20.  This is a very good price for this simple keyboard, though many people might consider it is a little to simple.  Your best bet with this keyboard is to find someone you know that has one and try it, or figure you are taking a risk with your money.  

Dave's Score - 6.0
This means, not exactly one of my top picks or something I will use everyday, but something to at least consider.  There are likely some issues with the product that make it not as good as it could be and/or not as good as comparable products.  Your best bet it to try it before you buy, otherwise you might be disappointed.

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