Tuesday, December 1, 1998

On the go with the GoType keyboard


By S. Fred Green a.k.a. Fredlet

Let's face it, I'll probably never write Graffiti as fast as I type. This can be a drawback at times since I often take only my Palm device with me for checking email when I'm out snooping into obscure corners of the globe (well, visiting my Dad's house). In general, my emails aren't terribly long, but if I'm limited to Graffiti entry, I use "yep", "nope" and a lot of shortcuts I created in Preferences. I bought a Newton Keyboard and PiloKey to try to alleviate the symptoms of S.E.S. (Short Email Syndrome) but with it I had to carry around either a cradle or a HotSync cable and something to prop up the Palm organizer.

This approach worked tolerably well, but I really had to be ready to sit down and do some serious piloting to set up the keyboard. Some enterprising individual created a blueprint of how to graft a HotSync port onto the Newton keyboard, but it was fairly involved for your average user.

What I wanted was something small, all-in-one, and purple.

Well, two out of three ain't bad.

Landware's response was the GoType keyboard, shown in Figure A. This custom-designed keyboard is slightly smaller than the Newton keyboard and includes a cradle to hold the Palm device, a built-in cover, and the four standard function buttons . It also has an extendable foot for stability that really comes in handy when you are typing. It's a standard QWERTY key layout but can handle the Dvorak key layout through a preference in the driver.


The GoType keyboard has a nice, Palm-like look to it. (click for larger image)

For touch typists, the F and J keys have little raised plastic dots for location. No batteries are required to power they keyboard as it gets its minimal power from the Palm device itself. I'm curious as to whether or not there is significant drain on the Palm device batteries as there is from leaving the Palm unit in the standard cradle for periods of time.

Getting started

Although Landware claims that the required keyboard driver consumes only 10K of RAM, my Info panel shows that it actually consumes 19K. Even though the data sheet suffers from marketing RAM deflation disease, it's still a very small RAM price to pay for the added benefit. Landware also provides a HackMaster driver for those of you who like to tweak everything that you can on your organizer.

After I performed a precautionary HotSync, I put my Palm device on the keyboard's connector, enabled the driver, and started typing in my favorite application. Landware says you can even play games with the keyboard, but I guess the ones I have loaded aren't set up for that.