Saturday, December 11, 2010

Four portable keyboards for the iOS, comparison

What do you do when you're on the go and your inner touch-typing devil grabs hold of you, but the iPad/iPhone screen keyboard is just not your scene. Well, you must have an external one, of course. Sadly, there has not sprung up a scene for this like it has for iPad cases, but there are a few.

On my photo is an iPad in leather case/stand, and a Matias folding keyboard, and a Think Ouside portable keyboard, and a Freedom i-Connex foldable, and an Apple Wireless (non-foldable) keyboard. They all connect via bluetooth (Except the Matias, which is USB), for better and for worse. (Remember you must un-pair one divice before you can connect another.)

The Matias (who makes the best desktop keyboard I know, the Tactile Pro) foldable is reasonably priced at fifty bucks, but... it's just too big to be really portable in these times. (Notice there's a Mac and a Win version.) And the keys are a bit mushy, and it doesn't have a lock for lying flat.

The Think Outside (or I-go) is very small indeed, and very good for all of that. I find I can actually touch-type on it, despite my large hands. But it's out of production, and generally sells over $100. And it is kind of fiddly, multiple uses for each key and such. And it doesn't really lie flat on a table.

The Freedom i-Connex is a pretty new product (there's a couple very similar one, but I *think* this is the one I got), and I like it. It is full-size for touch-typing, and yet pretty compact when folded. I like the feel of the keys. There are some things to get used to, for example the distance to the right shift key is more than I'm used to, so I keep pressing arrow-up instead. But I think I can get used to it. It also comes with the nicest pouch of any of these.

The Apple Wireless is a simplistic design, and it's just gorgeous. It's even compact and light. Many people love this keyboard to bits, particularly women for some reason. But the key travel is very short, which some people don't care so much for. And of course it does not fold.

  • Matias: 444 grams
  • Apple Wireless: 333 grams
  • Freedom i-Connex: 261 grams
  • Think Outside: 178 grams
I think that my favorite so far is the Freedom i-Connex. It has a good compromise between size/weight and usability (it goes in a jacket pocket), it's not expensive, and it feels pretty good to my hands. I think with a little training I could get up to a good 'n comfortable speed on this one.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Pogue reviews color Nook

David Pogue, my ol' pal and NYT tech journalist, review the color Nook in a video on this page.  But you can view it in much better quality via iTunes.
(Hint: he likes it a ton better than the old B/W one, as I'd suspected.)

There's also an accompanying article with more detail.

I reeeeeeaaally wonder when Amazon, if ever, plans to introduce a color Kindle. I don't think they can keep their position without one.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Google eBooks

Google has finally opened its long-rumored ebook store. This might be interesting. The other platforms are all proprietary, and you can't read an iBook book on a Sony reader or vice versa (though props to Amazon for reader apps on multiple platforms). I'm not sure what Google can do for openness, but at least so far they're promoting it.

The restrictions between countries are pretty damn severe. Google, who is promoting openness, here reveals that you not only can't buy books if you're an American customer who is outside the US, you can't even download books you already have bought! Apparently.
"For U.S. users traveling abroad: Before you head to the airport, be sure to load and sync the ebooks you wish to have with you for continued reading without interruption."

I think it's a bit different with Amazon. I have heard of people buying ebooks on their Amazon account while in Africa. But it's all a bit complex and puzzling for sure.

Monday, December 6, 2010