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Preview: Stowaway XT

Mon Oct 28, 2002 - 12:15 AM EST - By Michael Ducker

Stowaway XT

Instead of having a dual-fold “W” approach, Think Outside went back to the drawing board and constructed an ingenious single fold design. It doesn’t just fold in half – it folds in half while sliding, giving it a rigid back and centering the connector in the middle of the keyboard. One of the major drawbacks of the original Stowaway was that you really couldn’t type with the keyboard resting on your lap. With the rigid back this is no longer, and while working with it I found that to be true. The unit and much of the mechanism is made of solid anodized aluminum – it is just as strong, if not stronger as the original.

To save space, the keyboard utilizes a four row design instead of the normal five. While the key spacing and key travel are full size, this means that if you type numbers or anything on the top row of a keyboard you must press a modifier key. Also, the space key is broken up into two almost identical sized keys. It took just a little bit for me to get used to where the FN keys are located, but after that was done I had no trouble touch typing any numbers. Because the keys are full sized, typing was a breeze. My words per minute (WPM) has not suffered while using this keyboard; Using this helpful Palm OS WPM utility, I calculated that I was typing at 80 WPM – the same as my average speed on the desktop as measured by online speed tests (I have 20 WPM graffiti and 40 WPM on Treo thumb-board).

The only thing that bugged me on the entire keyboard was that the backspace key was a bit short and I had gotten into a habit of pressing the very right hand side of the key, so I missed it a lot.

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