Most of the computer users are in a constant run to gain more hardware power, but only a few of them realize that part of one's comfort in front of the computer is ...the keyboard.
When it comes to keyboards, my personal choice are those those with finger friendly keys, and sensitive to small pressure. I'm also interested in a slim design, it looks better, and saves some space on my desk. Using those, I can type real fast.
Some new toys
Recently I had the chance to test a Bluetooth multimedia keyboard, manufactured by the Chinese company ITON.
The keyboard is the PA-BK02 model. The package came with a mouse as well, matching the same color. The mouse is the PA-BTM02 model.
To the left, you can see some actual photos of the keyboard and mouse.
One strange thing I've noticed was that the keyboard would not operate with two of my rechargeable batteries rated at 1.2V each. It needs instead alkaline batteries rated at 1.5V. Together these two output 3V, seems like this voltage level is a must.
Desktop PC Setup
For Bluetooth connectivity, my PC uses and external USB Bluetooth Dongle, and the software is the BlueSoleil bluetooth stack.
Setting up the keyboard and the mouse is easy, you need to put them in discoverable mode using the little black button underneath, and search for bluetooth devices in the software panel:
The manual covers this aspect well enough and gives connectivity samples for various stacks including Microsoft and Broadcom. So I will not insist on this one, rather I will focus on the next test I've performed:
Using the ITON bluetooth keyboard and mouse on Windows Mobile
You might ask me "Why should someone use a keyboard with a Pocket PC?", I'd say you need to try it first, then ask this question.
A hardware keyboard on a Pocket PC makes a HUGE difference, you can actually type long emails in the same quick manner you're used to on the Desktop PC, but you also have a mobile platform that you can carry wherever you go.
While USB keyboards/mouses are barely seen on Windows Mobile, because of the lack of hardware support for USB Host connectors on the Mobile Devices, there are plenty bluetooth keyboards and mouses available that can be used instead.
To connect a bluetooth keyboard or mouse to your Pocket PC, you will need a driver.
Luckily there is one available: Teksoft's BlueInput.
So I've tried the ITON Bluetooth Keyboard and Mouse on my Axim X51v running Windows Mobile 5.0.
First step was to install BlueInput, the bluetooth keyboard/mouse driver.
Then using the videos on the developer's website, I've quickly configured BlueInput, as both devices have been detected successfully:
This looks awesome, I actually have a mouse cursor on my pocket pc!
Now for some remote action, I was able to operate the keyboard at approximately 12m, unfortunately I was not able to read the content of my Axim's screen at that distance, but just for the test it was great to see such a wide operating radius.
This reminds me of the possibility of adding an external display/projector to the Pocket PC, and using the Bluetooth keyboard and mouse for various presentations.
Bottom line, Expert's opinion
1. First the ITON Bluetooth Keyboard.
- I love the keys, the size and sensitivity are perfect.
- 8 multimedia keys
- easy to configure
- nice led display area
- slim design
- it doesn't work with 1.2V NiMH rechargeable batteries.
- it could be smaller (it has some big edges that could be removed)
- the multimedia keys are too big, not not very aesthetic
I'd give this an 8 out of 10, since this is not a high end product and the cost is very small. I'm sure this product needs to withstand some heavy competition from other glittering products that also cost a few times the price.
So all in one: price accessible, fair level of features, and good quality.
2. The ITON Mouse
- small sized, but comfortable for bigger hands as well
- it works with 1.2V batteries
- good sensitivity
- none 🙂
Since this is not a laser mouse, it is not the best on the market, but for this price you actually get a very compact and functional mouse, that deserves a 9 out of 10.