iGo Stowaway USB Keyboard
This review is for the ThinkOutside iGo USB Folding keyboard re-branded as Fellowes. There are a few other companies that this is re-branded with though (i.e. targus, etc.) There is a version that uses bluetooth that is exactly like this one (except uses batteries) so this review will cover both models, as well as those with PDA versions.
Here's the link to the Bluetooth Version on iGo's website (can be found many other places.)
The model I have is the "Fellowes Stowaway Portable Keyboard Designed and Manufactured by Think Outside, Inc." SKU 90190.
Specs from the website:
Size Closed - 5" x 3.5" x .09" (128mm x 90mm x 23mm)
Size Open - 13.8" x 5.1" x .5" (350mm x 129mm x 12mm)
Weight - 10.7 oz (303 g) (I think this is not correct, I will post my own findings when I post pics.)
MSRP - $129.99 for the bluetooth version
The unit I received came with the USB cable, and the User Manual. The bluetooth versions come with a AAA battery instead of the USB cable, and includes a carrying case and driver CD.
When closed, this keyboard is really small; only about the size of a 3.5" Desktop hard drive. There is a small latch on the side of the unit to open it up, and it folds out into four sections. The outer sections then slide in towards the center sections and clip into place. My unit has the usb cord which attaches to the middle left section at the top. Bluetooth units have a space for the battery instead.
Connecting to the computer was easy for the USB version; plug it in, that's it. However, on my Dell i6k I had to use the rear USB ports and not the side ones, otherwise it wouldn't work. The bluetooth version is a few more steps, but easy if you've ever used bluetooth before, and if not, the user guide helps walk you through it pretty well. The USB cable version's cable is quite short, only about 24" long. This forces most to use an extension cable, however it will depend on your setup.
The keyboard has a full size qwerty key layout, with a few keys that are moved or modified in the interest of saving space. The "1" key is about 60% the width of the rest of the numbers, which seems strange since it appears there is space for a normal size key (the track to allow the piece to slide is underneath.) The "\" key is also this width. The "Del" key is moved to the right of the right "Ctrl" key, which takes some getting used to. the "~`" key is also moved in between the right "Alt" and the right "Ctrl" keys. The direction arrows are the same width as the "1" key, and also take getting used to for spacing. Lastly the "Home", "Pg Up", "Pg Dn", and "End" keys are located at the far right of the keyboard. Also this keyboard has a "Fn" key, just like most laptops do. See images for examples. The keys travel the same distance as a normal laptop keyboard and have a scissors type connector on the back of each.
While typing a normal e-mail, I found myself making a few more mistakes than with the laptop keyboard, but not by much. Mostly this attributed to the fact that the backspace key is a little smaller than I am used to on the laptop. Overall this keyboard feels just like it is supposed to. On a flat surface the keyboard won't flex or bounce, but having it resting on my lap, I found that it would bounce a little with my key tapping, which wasn't a bad thing, just something I was not expecting. This is way better than trying to use a flexible rolling keyboard though.
When the unit is closed, you have to slide the outside sections outward and fold it up like a "W" then click it closed. When you close it, all the keys are pressed down so that it can be as slim as possible. This makes it a little difficult to close with one hand, which is not a problem most of the time. The only thing I don't like about this design is that when I close it, the latch takes a little force to get it to close, and sometimes I feel like it will eventually break. Hasn't happened yet, and probably wont, but it makes the unit feel a little cheap. (Although other than this, the unit feels very well made.)
Comparing this to a rollable keyboard I used a few months ago, I would definitely recommend this keyboard by far. The rolling one doesn't stay rolled well, unless you band it or have a case, and you need a flat surface to lay it on. Also the flexible keys don't feel like a normal keyboard does. The rolling keyboard left me limited to about 15-20 words per minute, while with this folding keyboard I was closer to 50; to compare, when I use a standard desktop keyboard, I can usually type about 60 or so words per minute.
My overall impression with this keyboard is that it is a great solution for those of us that want to save some space and not sacrifice too much in usability for a keyboard in the car. It's small lightweight, and replicates the laptop keyboard nicely. There are mini keyboards out there, but have smaller spacing, so the experience is a little different. The price is a little higher, but it's worth every penny. I found my keyboard on eBay for $25 with shipping. Most of the bluetooth versions are going for about $50 or so.
I give it a 4.5 out of 5. The only bad marks for this come from the odd placement of some keys, and the feeling that it will break something when I close it.
do you have the drivers ????
I'm trying like a crazy man to make this keyboard work... the driver that came on the cd doesn't work, the one on the thinkouside site doesn't work too ...
thinkoutside tech support is helpless ....
if you can please post the driver you got, I'd thank a lot! :)