Saturday, May 1, 2004

The Targus Universal wireless keyboard

The Universal wireless keyboard, being wireless, requires its own power source. This comes in the form of two CR2032 lithium batteries, like the ones that go in calculators or car remotes. I felt this was a boon as alkaline batteries have a tendency to wear out pretty fast. The batteries for the Universal wireless are included in the package with the keyboard.

I wish I could say there were other things about the Targus Universal wireless keyboard that I liked. There just aren't any. And that leads me to...

The bad

You'd think by now that I'd have learned to look past the hype and to research the reality. Well, I guess I didn't, and in the end I was very disappointed. I had previously used a Targus Stowaway keyboard with my Visor, so I thought I knew what to expect. I guess making assumptions didn't work out too good for me, now did it? Of course, that's why there are product reviews like this one. So read on.

Most of the keys are full-size, which is good, but for some reason typing just felt cramped. Some of the keys are considerably smaller than full-size though, and this makes touch typing very difficult. One of the hardest keys to hit was the right Shift key because it's one of those smaller keys, as are all the number keys.

The key that I had the biggest problem with by far though was the Space bar. It's split in two in order to accommodate the folding of the keyboard. The only problem is that Targus left a rather large space between the halves, right where my thumb normally hits the bar. I'm right-handed, so I use my right thumb to hit the Space bar, and in this case I had to adjust my hand to an uncomfortable position to do it. I don't know, maybe it works for left-handed people.

Another area that I found deficient was the hard function keys. These four buttons perform a dual function with the assistance of the Shift key to activate Apps, Menu, Find and Calculator, as well as the traditional Date, Address, ToDo, and Memo. The problem with these buttons on this keyboard is that they're hard programmed. They can't be reassigned. I've remapped the hard buttons on my Palm and expected that when I hit the corresponding buttons on the keyboard that it would activate the apps I have assigned to them. It didn't. That was how it worked on my old Stowaway and that was what I expected here. I was disappointed that it didn't work that way.

Another shortcoming of the keyboard is actually the 8-way Navigator button that replaces the cursor keys. The problem is that the Navigator button doesn't work with Palm OS 5. Oh, I could get left and right out of it, but not up and down. With there being no cursor keys, I was basically up the creek as far as cursor movement goes.

The keyboard does have some programmable function keys in the form of Alt (number key), but the functions that I assigned for cursor movement, other than PageUp and PageDown, didn't work either. So I had no way to move the cursor line by line other than the Navigator button on the Palm or tapping the screen.