It's a Wrap: New Logitech PDA Keyboards

One is a well-designed winner; one's close but no cigar

By Michael Lasky

When PC users trained on keyboard and mouse move to a stylus-controlled PDA, their first reaction usually is: "This is great, but it would be better with a keyboard." Unfortunately, since a PDA is meant to be a pocket-size information system, adding a keyboard requires that you cart around a major encumbrance.

Logitech tries to transcend this problem with its cleverly designed KeyCase, a 5-ounce, wraparound PDA case that integrates a full-size keyboard right into its cushiony fabric.

After trying out a shipping version of the $100 KeyCase with my Palm M515, I can say it is a close-but-no-cigar concept. To use this device properly, you must find a flat surface to place it on, and it takes some time to feel comfortable typing on the mushy fabric surface. True, Logitech has engineered the keyboard and its accompanying software so you can do 99 percent of your PDA input without ever taking your hands off the keyboard to use the stylus, but I found the overall experience frustrating.

However, Logitech has also released the thin, stylish TypeAway keyboard ($80), which does work very well. Its Palm-size clamshell case opens to display a touch-type-friendly keyboard that contains all the stylus-workaround features included on the KeyCase. The shipping TypeAway I road-tested was a joy to type on--it had the feel, but not the size, of a desktop computer's keyboard. I particularly liked the dedicated function keys--they permitted me to keep my hands on the keyboard and not on the stylus when selecting a screen task.

Both keyboards work with all Palm M-series and I-series devices. The flexible KeyCase has ergonomic flaws, but the aluminum-cased TypeAway is a pure functional winner.

From the July 2002 issue of PC World magazine

Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal.