Published: November 21st, 2005

Bluetooth and WiFi connectivity are pretty much a given, so anyone who wants a truly horrific aural experience can use a wireless headset. The applications hardly vary from platform to platform (and don’t at all among devices on the same platform). They all do more or less the same thing, so how does one choose between platforms, let alone devices?Hewlett-Packard’s little differentiator for its new iPaq h6300 series is a clip-on thumb keyboard, targeting, one assumes, an audience raised on a diet of BlackBerries.

The keyboard clips over the microphone and navigation buttons of the device, though those are compensated for in the keyboard itself. However, the keyboard interface is also the charge and sync port, so you can’t use the keyboard while the PDA is charging.

Those who use their phones for a lot of e-mail and text messaging might appreciate the thumb keyboard as an option — as long as their hands aren’t on the beefy side. This, my friends, is a small keyboard, a much tighter squeeze than a standard BlackBerry. I found it usable, if a little awkward, but someone with chunkier thumbs would find it frustrating.

With Bluetooth now a standard feature on this-generation PDAs, why isn’t somebody making a usable, folding, pocket-size wireless keyboard for text-intensive applications on PDAs? And how about a PDA with an S-Video output for use with TV and monitor displays? For most business travellers, it would be all the computer they’d need to carry, and they wouldn’t have to sacrifice eysight for portability.

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