One of the things that puts people off the Palm is the need to learn a new way of typing, namely the Graffiti method of input. Actually, Graffiti is extremely easy to learn, as it is simply a stylisation of the alphabet that turns every letter that would normally require two strokes (and would thereby confuse a character-based recognition system) into one stroke. So, the letter A is written without its crossbar and the letter F without its middle shelf.
The second problem is that, even if you have spent the half hour needed to learn Graffiti, it is not much fun writing longer documents. When you are stuck on a train and really need to finish off a letter, wouldn't it be great if you had one of those Psions with their sexy keyboards?
There are two solutions to this problem (three, if you include replacing your Palm V with a Psion). One is to become confident enough with Graffiti that this isn't an issue - twice I have been forced, through my perennial habit of leaving things to just after the last minute, to write 500-word articles in airports. I can achieve around 20 words a minute with Graffiti so, while painful, this is achievable.
The second solution is not only much better but is extremely cool - the new folding keyboard. This is one of those suck-in-the-air, you-may-be-a-geek-but-by-golly-you've-got-sexy-kit pieces of technology that always impresses. It is a little larger than the Palm itself (about the size of a Philips Nino) and has a tight, neat case.
But take it out, pop the button and it folds out of its compressed W into a compact keyboard. The two outer quarters slide in neatly over the joins and an angled rest slides out over the connector, allowing you to see the Palm as you type. It has buttons for most of the key applications, so you rarely need to use the stylus. And it is large enough for both hunt-n-peckers and touch-typists to use comfortably.
The Palm V is, of course, as much a statement of style as it is of functionality, and the Palm keyboard adds immeasurably to both of these important areas.
This was first published in May 2000