Thursday, July 19, 2007

Review of BenQ DeskSaver keyboard with Mobilis

Some time ago I had reviewed the Freedom mini keyboard which I use with my Nokia 6600. I find the form factor of that keyboard very well suited for ultra mobility and convenience. Some time ago I had also got an ultra compact device called the Mobilis and had commented that the inbuilt keypad on Mobilis was more or less useless. I could not use the Freedom mini keypad with this device as it did not have any kernel support for bluetooth and all my attempts to compile my own kernel for this device have not so far been successful. I had gone far to even load the compiled kernel on to Mobilis but alas could not make it run!

And well I connected it to Mobilis and fired up Abiword and was up writing this review :) At 800 INR the keypad seems to be a bit expensive. But its small tablet PC form factor and slim and sleek look appears to tone down the weight on your pockets. This is a full PC style keypad as opposed to a reduced version (QWERTY basic) Freedom mini keypad. Its definitely easier to work and type out documents with this "natural" PC style keypad. Almost all the keypad button except the one specific to Microsoft Windows are usable and work as advertised. Especially I find using the editor, bash terminal and vi was much easier with this keypad. I also found that using this keypad was much easier than using the keypad that comes with most of the laptops. Thus I find that the ergonomics of this keypad are nicely done.

To test out the usability of this device on a desktop PC (as it is marketed as a DeskSaver keyboard) I connected this keypad to my PC. This also allowed to test other keys which are of non usable on Mobilis. The special Windows keys works as expected. So does the shortcut keys for accessing Internet and Email as well as keys for controlling the volume (Note that you need to install the provided driver software for this to work properly). However, I find that this keypad is a bit constrained if you do heavy coding and would not really recommend it if you intend to replace your standard keyboard with this one. In fact the standard USB keypad that comes with today's branded PCs provide the same softkey experience as this keypad provides.

In conclusion I find that this keypad is only useful if you are looking into using this device in conjunction with a mobile device especially a tablet PC. It also works great with Mobilis, the only drawback being that its a bit bigger than the default carry case provided for Mobilis.

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