Business Hardware

Can a Keyboard Be Full-Size and Portable? Yep

The scoop: OnBoard Travel Keyboard, by Atek, about US$30.

What it is: The OnBoard is a full-size portable keyboard that fits in a laptop bag. The keyboard includes a USB cable that wraps around the case (a "cord management system"), and the protective cover for the keyboard doubles as a cradle that helps the keyboard incline when you use it. A cloth carrying case and inflatable palm rest also are included in the package.

Why it's cool: Finding a keyboard that you can use with a notebook while you're on the road typically involves something that folds or rolls up, and those types of keyboards usually don't have the same kind of keyboard feel as a normal desktop keyboard. The OnBoard keyboard is as wide as a normal desktop keyboard, but not as bulky and the wraparound USB cable is handy for storage. You might need a backpack-style laptop bag or a larger bag if you're going to take this with you on the road, but it is portable enough. The keys don't have the same click feel as some other keyboards, but they are large enough to type correctly, and this includes a number keypad, which can be very handy. Heck, my notebook keyboard doesn't have the number keypad, so this is a nice addition.

Some caveats: Some travelers may find that the keyboard is too large for them, but that's the price you're going to have to pay for a full-size keyboard. Some of the keys, such as the function keys and the arrow keys, are a bit smaller than I'd like, but I'm willing to adjust to that.

Grade: 5 stars (out of five).

The scoop: Juice Pack for iPhone 3G, by Mophie, about $100.

What it is: The Juice Pack is a combination extra battery pack and soft grip, non-slip case with a built-in iPhone dock connector. When the iPhone is inserted into the case, extra power is provided by the case's rechargeable lithium polymer battery. Mophie claims as many as 350 extra hours of standby time; as many as six more hours of talk time (over 3G; as many as 12 hours over EDGE); as many as six hours over 3G of Internet data use (seven hours over Wi-Fi); as many as 28 hours of audio playback or eight hours of video playback time). The device can be recharged via USB cable, and it can be recharged with the iPhone at the same time.

Why it's cool: Battery life issues of the iPhone 3G have been well documented; heavy voice and data usage in 3G areas can drain the energy of the device in less than one workday. Having the Mophie Juice Pack is a valuable battery life backup plan that can save you until you can recharge the device later. The fact that it also doubles as an iPhone case (at least for the back part) is a nice feature. Blue lights on the back of the device give an indication of how much juice is left on the Juice Pack.

Some caveats: Wow, at $100, that's a pricy device. The bulky nature of the case also will add extra weight to your iPhone experience. Personally, I preferred the smaller Kensington snap-on battery pack, which is half the price and much more portable, to provide emergency backup.

Grade: 3 stars

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