The Key(board) Factor

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Being a geek, I don’t worry about which clothes to pack, but instead which gadgets to pack. So for a recent 3 day business trip, I had to decide which laptop to bring, the Dell Latitude XT or the Fujitsu P1620. I chose the P1620 because it is smaller, lighter, and lasts much longer on battery power. Also, with netbooks all the rage, it seemed interesting to try out on a road trip a device with a netbook form factor.

I had one but major problem with the P1620; the keyboard. The keyboard was too small to type comfortably and accurately. I ended up “hunting and pecking.”

The usability of the P1620’s keyboard certainly isn’t a problem for everyone. My wife for one has little trouble typing on her P1620. However, for my hands and fingers, it is a problem. And I’m stuck with my hands and fingers.

The P1620 is a Tablet PC. However, writing isn’t always a practical alternative to typing. Yes, I can handwrite emails; the writing shows up as an image on the recipient’s computers. However, the result doesn’t look very professional, especially with my bad handwriting. Also, when answering student discussion posts on the online computer programming courses I teach, writing, then converting the handwriting to text, and then correcting the converted text, is agonizingly slow. This is particularly true when I’m writing programming code rather than regular English language words.

I could bring a large Bluetooth or USB keyboard. Both varieties fold up so are practical for traveling. However, having to drag another gadget along somewhat defeats the purpose of bringing the smaller notebook. And having both the P1620 and a separate keyboard can be clumsy on small surfaces, such as a tray table on a plane, a “desk” in a hotel room, a couch table in a hotel lounge, etc.

I’m wondering if the P1620 is a “tweener” device; too large to be pocketable, too small to use comfortably. My P1620 may be destined for sale on a forum or eBay. Too bad, because I really like the P1620, but I’m not sure it makes sense for me.

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