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November 12, 2008

SPB’s new keyboard

I think I have probably reviewed all of the on-screen keyboards for Windows Mobile devices by now; But, I am always glad to see a brand new one. SPB’s new keyboard is a welcome addition to the stable of inputting workhorses.

It is a straightforward QWERTY style so that there is no learning curve. Just pop it up and go to work. It comes in two modes: half-screen and full-screen.

The half-screen mode is designed for both stylus and finger use. I found that I could type just fine even with my largish paws. To increase accuracy and to eliminate typos, hold key, and it will light up and enlarge. If you are on the wrong key, you can slide to the right one, and it will light up too. Release it for the correct input and avoid a mistake.

As you can see, the keys are commodious for fingering with easy access to caps and symbols. Notice that there’s even a Control button. How cool is that?

To change to the full-screen mode, tap on the little keyboard key next to the Sym key. Notice that you get a row of number keys and that it automatically shifts to a horizontal view in this mode. Finger-typers will probably appreciate this view a lot, but I will probably never use it because it only displays one row of text in a continuous scroll. Even if you do a carriage return, it will display a paragraph symbol and continue on the same line, which is interesting.

In the full screen view, it also displays the language you are working in. The keyboard supports 23 different languages, which makes it a real polyglot.

As described above, when you hold a key it illuminates with an enlarged view above the key and allows you to slide to the key you want.

If you go to Settings>Input>Options, you will have the opportunity to switch languages, download and choose skins, select various system settings, and change dictionary settings. I should also mention that this keyboard supports optional gestures. Skins are not available yet, but are promised soon. While this keyboard allows optional gestures, you will have to figure them out for yourself. They are not indicated in the help menu, which is probably an oversight that needs attention.

The SPB keyboard is a great addition to the array of onscreen keyboards, and I highly recommend it for its instant usability and versatility. To tell you the truth, my PDA has a horizontal slideout keyboard, but I prefer to use the SPB online keyboard for most inputting applications. I like the fact that I can use it with one hand, which is impossible to do with the slideout keyboard.

If you visit SPB’s Webpage at www.spbsoftwarehouse.com, you will not find this product offered yet, but keep trying. I have not seen a suggested retail price yet either, but I would guess it will be $29.95, which would make it on the high end of inputters, but it’s certainly a quality product and worth your consideration.

Posted by conradb212 at November 12, 2008 10:08 PM