[bct] Great keyboard for Braillenote

  • From: "Angie Matney" <Angie@xxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: "blindcooltech@xxxxxxxxxxxxx" <blindcooltech@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Thu, 18 May 2006 19:12:57 -0400

I am not currently subscribed to the BrailleNote list, so if anyone wants to 
forward this to that list, feel free to do so. (In 
fact, you can pass it on to anyone who might find it useful.)

I've been trying to find a good external keyboard for my BrailleNote mPower for 
some time. I don't like the BN's loud, 
clanky keys. I'm glad to have them for situations where I need braille entry, 
but I wanted something else for taking notes.

I initially tried a roll-up rubbery kind of USB keyboard that I got for $20 at 
CompUSA. I had the larger model that I used 
with a laptop until it died a few months later. I was hesitant to buy the 
smaller one for the BN, but I really wanted a 
different keyboard. Sadly, my keyboard's space bar died after about a month of 
loyal service.

I then bit the bullet and bought the Stowaway Bluetooth keyboard from 
ThinkOutside (I hear Del's PDA keyboard is a re-
branded version of this one; I don't know if that's true or not). Anyway, This 
keyboard is excellent. I didn't think I would 
like it, since you have to press a key in conjunction with the keys on the 
"qwerty" row to type numbers. But this is easily 
done. Also, the Question mark is typed by pressing shift + right-arrow. This is 
good, because the right arrow is where the 
slash is on a normal keyboard. In summary, this is an excellent keyboard. But 
it can be kind of expensive, and I have 
found that my BN's connection with it is sometimes finnicky.

I just received a Targus folding USB keyboard that I ordered from 
www.toshibadirect.com. The keyboard was $34.99 
plus shipping and tax. I think it was around $45. I think it could be just the 
think I'm looking for. It's about the size of the 
ThinkOutside keyboard--just a tiny bit larger. It has a retractable USB cable, 
which is not at all what I was expecting. The 
cable is wrapped around a reel in such a way that as you pull it out, it 
extends at both ends and locks into place. When 
you finish with it, you just pull a little on the end connected to the BN, and 
it retracts automatically. This is hard to explain, 
but it's a really neat design and lets you lengthen the cord enough to get it 
out of your way. Also, this cable detaches 
from the keyboard, so it should be easy to replace if that is necessary. 

The keys are a nice size--full PC size. The keyboard doesn't have the standard 
arrow keys. It has something like a 
PDA's navigation key in the bottom right corner that acts like the arrow keys. 
This means that the slash, etc., is where it 
"should" be. The only thing I don't like about this keyboard is that for some 
reason, the top row is moved farther to the 
right than it should be. The top row consists of escape, the number keys, and a 
few other things. The number row will 
take a bit of getting used to. But some might prefer this to the Stowaway's 
method of doubling up the numbers with the 
"qwerty" row. The Targus also has page up and page down keys on the right side. 
These keys are smaller than normal 
keys, but they are very easy to find.

Here are the pros for the Targus keyboard:

* much cheaper than a bluetooth keyboard;
* Doesn't require batteries or drain your BN's battery as much as bluetooth 
* Has arrows and page up/down keys that are immediately tactilly 
* has detachable retractable cable that will be very easy to transport;
* most keys are where they should be;
* should work right away with the BN.

I do still like the Stowaway keyboard, and I'll probably still use it on 
occasion. I might start using it more with my PC, 
though, since I can use this new one with the BN. I'm really impressed with 
this new Targus keyboard.

Here is the link to the keyboard:



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