There is no question in my mind that the Think Outside Bluetooth Keyboard is one of the slickest devices I have ever used with my iPAQ.
Some years ago, after I had purchased my first iPAQ (3630), I had found that text entry for larger documents that I wanted to write was a pain in the neck using the built-in onscreen keyboard. That was fine for small notes but clearly not efficient with larger documents. At that time, I purchased a keyboard that plugged into my iPAQ and solved the problem of entering a lot of text at one time. I was happy with the keyboard but there was always that process of attaching the device and that brought limited ability to using the keyboard on your lap.
With the advent of Bluetooth and its final coming of age, it has brought about a whole new world of text entry with our devices and Think Outside has been at the forefront of providing us with that technology.
When I got my Bluetooth mouse , I thought it was without question one of the coolest toys I have ever had to complement my iPAQ. It was so good that I decided to try their Bluetooth keyboard…and folks, this is without question one of the SLICKEST devices I have ever owned.
A form factor that is diminutive in size but HUGE in output and productivity. I was absolutely impressed as I opened the package and saw this tiny package open up to a four row keyboard that has every aspect of a full size keyboard. A unique combination of function keys allows the design to use four rows instead of five. The result is a keyboard that truly is portable and redefines what is meant when we say pocketable.
When you hold it in your hand and slowly rotate it you get the feeling that this was an engineers dream. It has a very unique design that has a slick fold over stand for your iPAQ when you open the keyboard up. There is a release button on the left side, that when pressed, opens and releases the fold over stand. As it flips open you start to see the unique design that distinguishes this keyboard over others.
As it flips open, you can see that the keyboard is essentially three components. A center section that the system rests on, the right side of the keyboard that flips up and opens with a unique levered design that raises and then lowers as the keyboard gets into position and the left side that slides in a track on the center section. There is a cantilever effect for both sides of the keyboard when it is fully open and is resting in the locked position on the center section.
I was enthralled with the design and spent a lot of time opening and closing the keyboard trying to see into the mind of the Think Outside engineer . Who ever that person was, they had a mind for designing a very clever keyboard that is extremely compact and sturdy.
As the keyboard opens, it “locks” into place with a neat little tab lock that serves as a release mechanism when it is time to close the keyboard. The tab will slide to the right enabling the closing of the keyboard easily when you are done with it. Words cannot adequately describe the “hinged” system used to open and close the keyboard. It appears as if there are six hinges working together to transition the keyboard to either an open or closed position in a smooth one movement operation…it is a work of art!
As easily as it opens, it closes just as easy. There is a tab with a rectangular hole on the right side of the keyboard (when open) that snaps easily over a plastic protrusion (on the left side) locking the keyboard. When you press the button to open the keyboard, it pushes this plastic protrusion in, allowing for the keyboard to open…again, another clever design.
The back of the keyboard has the cover for the battery compartment which has a slight “bubble” showing where the batteries are. There are two rubber feet on the opposite side giving the keyboard a cushion effect. The two rubber feet balance with the battery “bubble” to give a three point resting system for the keyboard…again, another clever design.
This balancing system will allow for stability even when resting on a surface that is not even. I guess the best description would be a three leg stool…it always is firm on the ground but a four leg stool needs a perfect surface. There were seven small screws set in recessed holes holding the unit together. I was glad they were not hidden because seeing them told me that this keyboard was put together right. It didn’t have plastic snaps holding it together. Someone wanted to build a keyboard that was sturdy…someone wanted to build a keyboard right…and you know what…they did!
I haven’t even tried it out yet and I am already impressed. Little things make a difference in producing a quality product. Looking at this system, you can’t help but believe that this is going to be a terrific product. Yup, little things make a difference, like the fact that the stand that flips open can easily be removed if you choose not to use it or want to place your iPAQ in a different position…further away. Thoughtful—that describes my first impressions of this device. Someone spent the time to design a keyboard that will make the user very comfortable.
I should mention the specifications for the keyboard. It is an English QWERTY layout (4 rows of keys) with 18mm key spacing (horizontally and vertically) and 3mm key travel. When the keyboard is closed, it measures 5.5″H x 3.9″W x .5″D (139mm x 99mm x 13mm) and when it is open, it measures 9.9″ x 5.8″ x .5″ (251mm x 148mm x 13mm). It has a weight: 5.6 oz. (160 grams).