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Remote Keyboard for UMPC GPS
tcassidy
I was looking for a small keyboard to be used in my vehicle. This would be to provide input to my ASUS r2h UMPC when used as a GPS. I have a TO Bluetooth unit but it needs a flat surface and is a bit large.

I just received a Logitech diNovo Mini Bluetooth keyboard. Certainly can't complain about the size as its under 6"x 4". It works great right out of the box with Mobile PC but could use some F keys.I didn't load the software. I might be able to reassign some of the media keys with that. It does have a touch pad though.

Address entry using it is pretty staight forward. A moderately expensive device but so cute, I couldn't resist. Especially as I'm going through my Bluetooth phase.

Terry
Attached Images
logitech.jpg   logitech2.jpg  
Marvin Hlavac
Terry, what is the top part of the keyboard? Is it just a cover that flips open, or it has some other function, too?
tcassidy
Marvin,
Just a flip-up cover to keep the dust out. There is a compartment on the bottom with the rechargable battery, activation button and storage for the Bluetooth dongle when not being used. It works fine with the internal Bluetooth of the ASUS so I don't use the dongle.
Terry
malaki86
I looked at those keyboards as a replacement for my wired keyboard/touchpad I have in the front of my truck. I've got some things higher in priority at the moment for my system, but I like the looks of them.

How are the lighted keys? Do they help at night?
tcassidy
The lighting is fine and activated every time you touch a key. It times out in 5 seconds and there is an ambient light sensor so the lights are not activated in daylight.

The problem I am working on is reactivating the Bluetooth. Sometimes the keyboard does not send a signal after it has been off for a while. This means the computer Bluetooth will not look for it. I haven't figured out when this is going to occur yet but resetting it means removing/ restoring the battery and pushing the activation button. Not a procedure I am happy with.

Terry
malaki86
This is the keyboard I'm leaning a little more towards:
http://www.tigerdirect.com/applications/SearchTools/item-details.asp?EdpNo=1388753&CatId=537

It's identical to the wired one I have now, except for the wireless part.
tcassidy
If you expect to use a keyboard regularly with a GPS computer in your vehicle, that would be a better choice. The Logitech mini has very small keys and is more a two-handed device.

I was looking for something I could keep in the glovebox but was available for a second person or if I was stopped and to look up an address. Also I didn't want a dongle.

Bluetooth definitely has its own issues though. I haven't determined whether the computer or the keyboard is the one to attempt reinitialization. I wish this keyboard connected as reliably as the Bluetooth GPS.

Terry
malaki86
The only problem with the wired one is, well, the wire. Sometimes it gets in the way. I'd like to find one that could be recharged via a 12v lighter port. When I need it, unplug it, use it, then plug it back in to keep it charged.
Ken in Regina
Quote:
Originally Posted by tcassidy
Bluetooth definitely has its own issues though. I haven't determined whether the computer or the keyboard is the one to attempt reinitialization. I wish this keyboard connected as reliably as the Bluetooth GPS.
Just to confuse the issue even more, Terry, sometimes the problem is not with either device. It's with Bluetooth itself. Many implementations don't handle multiple simultaneous connections very well. The problem is in the Bluetooth stack (protocol) on the computing device (laptop, PDA, whatever).

As a good/bad example, in another forum on Garmin stuff there is a fellow who has spent an inordinate amount of time trying to get Garmin's Mobile XT working on his Palm-based smartphone. He keeps cursing Mobile XT. For the longest time I thought there was a problem with Mobile XT and Palm devices.

Turns out not to be the case. If the guy was willing to avoid using his Bluetooth headset at the same time as the Bluetooth GPS receiver he would have no trouble. He finally did some testing and proved it. But he's unwilling to do that. It turns out the problem is that the Bluetooth stack implemented on the Palm device he is using is not very robust. It works great with either the Bluetooth GPS receiver or the Bluetooth headset. But when he has both connected he has issues with the GPS receiver.

For what it's worth, this isn't meant as a criticism of his annoyance. He has every right to be annoyed. I just wanted to illustrate that one needs to be careful when trying to pinpoint the source of the problem. Especially if that means condemning the wrong thing as the source of the problem. I was ready to rule out Mobile XT on, say, a Palm T/X as a possible solution if my iQue ever dies. Now I know better.

I know it doesn't make it any easier to take when there are problems, but when one has an understanding of the most likely source of the problem it makes it possible to think about workarounds. Or go after the right manufacturer for support.

...ken...
tcassidy
Ken,
Bluetooth is still a dog's breakfast, has never lived up to the claims and probably never will. Most people who know the term, think its for connecting a headset wirelessly to a phone (one thing I have never done as my cell doesn't have Bluetooth).

Even for Windows, there are a plethora of stacks but it is narrowing all the time. My laptop (with a Toshiba SD Bluetooth card - when I was looking for this device, I had to order it from Australia; even eBay didn't have them) and my UMPC use Toshiba's stack. It supports AVRCP and A2DP for stereo headphones plus the usual suspects, but is getting a little old. I think the last update was several years ago and Toshiba seems to be less involved these days.

My main computer(Motorola USB dongle),the old PIII (some Dell third party USB dongle) and my HP WM6 PDA use the Widcomm/ Broadcom stack. Although it is updated regularly, there is no way to legally obtain these updates and the version numbering system is unbelievably complicated. The PDA is the best device I have for stereo headphones but wired is still better and easier to use. It probably has the latest version of the Widcomm stack.

I have an old D-Link Bluetooth dongle which will no longer work with its Widcomm drivers so I tried Blue Soliel - a fair product but very limited radio support. And the Toshiba PDA has an antiquated Socket cf card using the Drakar stack (discontinued for quite a while - very limited devices supported). Fortunately, every one of these stacks support Serial ports so Bluetooth GPS has never been a problem.

There is also a Windows Bluetooth stack built in to XP SP2 but I've never tried it. I have heard it is somewhat limited.

I have 3 Bluetooth keyboards but can't compare them directly for a variety of reasons. I suspect the best is the TO one but it is larger than I wanted to deal with.

I have pretty well narrowed down the reactivation problem. The keyboard doesn't always seem to know that it is disconnected so when you push a key, it might or might not send a request for reconnection. A simple solution would be a power interrupt or reset button on the face. On power restoral, it usually sends an activation request. The radio in the UMPC is polling for it and connection is almost immediate.

I will compare it to the TO unit to try to narrow down what state of the UMPC and /or keyboard might cause it to not reconnect. Unfortunately I don't use Sleep or Hibernation on my main computers so can't easily try it with a Widcomm Bluetooth stack under similar conditions.

Terry
videonerd
Although it's wired, the Motion Computing USB keyboard is great:

https://store.motioncomputing.com/TABproducts.asp?SolutionCatID=66&LevelID=3&TabID=1
$49.99
Marvin Hlavac
Looks good. The F-keys look small, though - just like on my HP tx-2000. I use F-keys all the time, and I find this half-sized keys a bit too small for me.
tcassidy
Marvin,
You wouldn't like the Logitech Mini then as it has no F keys.

While testing the TO Sierra BT keyboard (which does have F keys sort of), I discovered that virtually every function in Mobile PC is available using the arrow keys (the Mini doesn't have those either). The only thing I couldn't get to was the 'return to beginning globe thingie' but the Back (Backspace) key got there quickly.

Terry
Marvin Hlavac
Yes, Terry, the arrow keys are very useful in Garmin Mobile PC. Don't buy a keyboard without arrow keys .

The 'start-up' screen can be accessed by pressing of the Esc-key (or repeated pressing of the Esc-key, if you are deeper inside a menu).

It is possible to even change the status of the check-boxes in the routing preferences screen. Highlight the desired check-box, and then toggle the check-mark by pressing the space bar on your keyboard .
tcassidy
On the Logitech Mini and TO Sierra, the Esc key is Fn + Tab (2 key combination) so it was good to find that the Backspace key performs the same function.

I am glad to see the use of the Space key to fill check boxes. This is also a Windows feature. Standardization is always good.

Terry
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