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  1.    #1  
    I've owned my Treo for about 3 months now. My wife never put forth the effort to try and learn Graffiti and so she never actually entered data into her old Palm OS device (she would enter appointments, contacts, etc. through MS Outlook and essentially use the Palm as a read-only device). Now that we both have Treo 300's, my wife actually uses the thing. With every new smartphone that comes out and gets me salivating, I typically snub my nose at it if it lacks a thumbboard.

    Well, I have to say, after having mine for 3 months and entering a little bit of text here and there, I just for the first time actually tried to write up a full message (and not a super-long one at that) and found myself totally frustrated. I was using the mobile version of the forums on my new site and everything was working as planned, but the thumbboard was driving me crazy. Here's my problems with it: The whole thing is just too small. I end up having to stare at it while I type and scan my eyes back up at the screen periodically. I end up accidentally hitting a nearby key every so often which I don't notice until the next time my eyes look up at the screen, which means I then have to decide whether to backspace all the way to the error (which, of course, deletes the text after the error since there aren't any directional keys) or I have to tap on the screen to reposition the cursor, fix the error, then tap on the screen at the end of the line. I also don't like that the keys are hard plastic.

    The whole thing was too much effort and I ended up feeling like I would have been more productive using Graffiti (which I tried to do using Newpen but ran into other problems there).

    I love the concept of a thumbboard, but I think I've decided that I don't like Handspring's implementation of the thumbboard. I really think it needs to be bigger. I think that the Danger hiptop's thumbboard may be a good size, though I'd have to play with it for a longer period to know for sure.

    Am I alone in this?

    Scott
    Now THIS is the future of smartphones.
  2. #2  
    I was a llllooonnngggg time (as in, 7 years) Graffiti user, and I'll never go back. Love the thumboard for what it does. Of course it's not like typing on a full keyboard, but the convenience factor wins out for me. With my more-recent Palms (a V, Vx along with Omnisky, and then a 6035), I lugged around the Stowaway keyboard, which is very nice, but it's ANOTHER thing to lug around. (and now that I recall, with my various Palm III models, I used one of those gawd-awful GoType keyboards - gag).

    So count me as a Treo-specific thumboard major advocate. HAVE to have one in whatever new device comes along next. I wouldn't use it to create the next great American novel, but for quick things (yes, including posts to TreoCentral, along with email, TONS of IM, and more) it works for me and eliminates another thing to carry around. I'm all about simplicity and streamlining.
  3.    #3  
    nrosser, I don't disagree with what you say, but again I guess I'm just having trouble with Handspring's specific implementation of it. FWIW, I just tried another test with it (trying to write a long note) and I had a little bit better experience this time. I'm guessing that the more you use it, the better you get. I still think that a bigger version (with rubbery keys as opposed to the hard plastic keys) would be much, much better (a la the Danger hiptop). Still, I'm thinking that I may be able to get by with it with some more practice. Is there a hack that will let me move the cursor back and forth without deleting text? I'd imagine that there would be (yes, I'll do a search when I'm done posting this). That would lessen some of my current issues.

    Scott
    Now THIS is the future of smartphones.
  4.    #4  
    OK, I just did a search and discovered that the functionality I asked for is already built in. (blue key + up key to move left or down key to move right).

    Scott
    Now THIS is the future of smartphones.
  5. #5  
    there are also some other hacks that let you move around the cursor a line at a time - go to end of line, end of paragraph, and the like. I think one is 'keycntlhack' or something - you can probably find a reference to it in the Treo Utility section...
  6. #6  
    I think the Treo keyboard is fine. It's on the small side, and I'm not crazy about some of the punctuation; i.e. = sign. The only real functional problem I have is that the system pauses every few seconds when coverage fades, and that actually causes missed keystrokes. A LOT OF THEM.

    While typing in VeriChat or whatnot it is very menacing as perhaps every other word will be missing a character while I'm in zero bar coverage. I'm really really hoping that the firmware update will fix this issue.

    It's to the point where I will turn the radio off if I ever need to type something.
  7. #7  
    I like the Treo keyboard pretty well--far better than Graffiti--but it's inferior to the BlackBerry's. The BlackBerry keyboard is very slightly larger, which helps, and it has superior functionality in a few ways. You can get a capital letter just by holding the key for a second longer, and it's much easier to create shortcuts for commonly typed words (cd for could, fr for Friday, etc.).
  8. #8  
    Scott,

    I totally agree with the rubber key idea instead of the plastic keys on the Treo. I also agree that other implementations of the thumboard on other devices are more ergonomic and easy to use. Namely I'm referring to the T|C which I think has an excellent thumboard design...very easy to use and with spacious keys and etc. The only problem I that such a device is way to big for me to consider using as my every day mobile! Thus while I love the thumboard on the T|C, I am willing to sacrifice space on the thumboard in order to have a more compact device. In general I think the Treo is the perfect compromise between size and functionality. Any larger and I don't think I would use it as much as a I do.

    Also, the main function I use the thumbaord for is IM, email and occasional forum entries (you can tell when I'm typing from my treo b/c my spelling deteriorates exponentially! ) For these things I think the Treo QERWTY thumboards works fine.

    However, I think it would be interesting to see if someone could design a smartphone with a more imaginative keyboard design like the Sharp SL-C700 Zaurus or the Bsquare reference desing? That would be very cool IMO. Also, there is a HP PPC reference design with a fold out keyboard that can expand and collapse into a small from facotor! Anyhoo, there lots of imaginative ways to design a keyboard IMHO while still maintaining a svelt form factor. It would be interesting to see some of these ideas eventually trickle into the Treo...
  9. #9  
    Originally posted by EdwardsJ3
    I like the Treo keyboard pretty well--far better than Graffiti--but it's inferior to the BlackBerry's. The BlackBerry keyboard is very slightly larger, which helps, and it has superior functionality in a few ways. You can get a capital letter just by holding the key for a second longer, and it's much easier to create shortcuts for commonly typed words (cd for could, fr for Friday, etc.).
    You can get the functionality to hold down a key for a capital, as well as double click a key for "option+key" from KeyCapsHack.
    Units - Unit conversion for webOS!
    Treo 180->270->600->650->Blackberry Pearl->Palm Pre
  10. #10  
    Scott R wrote:
    I love the concept of a thumbboard, but I think I've decided that I don't like Handspring's implementation of the thumbboard. I really think it needs to be bigger.


    I think it needs to a smaller. I was always proficient with Graffiti, but my speed, accuracy and fluidity immediately improved with the thumbboard. My thumbs pretty much knew the key positions after a few days to the point where peripheral vision was more than enough. I have slightly larger than average hands.

    Whatever Handspring is releasing, it's bound to disappoint some constituency. I'd rather have them err on the side of a smaller form factor.
  11. #11  
    Originally posted by metsfan


    You can get the functionality to hold down a key for a capital, as well as double click a key for "option+key" from KeyCapsHack.
    This has got to be one of the best hacks/apps that I've ever bought to date for my treo (and I've spent a lot of money on apps!). It definitely speeds up typing time and is a must have!

    Thanks again metsfan!
    T750 w/Cingular
    Black Jawbone
  12.    #12  
    Post edited due to me saying something stupid.

    Scott
    Now THIS is the future of smartphones.
  13.    #13  
    gfunk, as I've probably mentioned a million times before (and some have gotten mad at me for doing it), one of the mockup designs that I came up with a while back would allow for a larger thumbboard while keeping the device small. You allude to this in your post when you talk about the new Sharp Zaurus designs.

    I haven't been able to find a Tungsten W or C locally to play with yet. Even if they feel better, I don't like that they're not backlit.

    Scott
    Now THIS is the future of smartphones.
  14. #14  
    What I notice with Treo 270

    * lack of full-screen management with thumbboard
    * lack of complete integration of thumbboard with menus

    You have to bring out the stylus to compensate for that. And there are times you just can't do that or won't want to do that. The next software iteration should consider that and exploit interface (thumbboard and screen) very well.
  15. #15  
    Originally posted by ManofTrueGod
    What I notice with Treo 270

    * lack of full-screen management with thumbboard
    * lack of complete integration of thumbboard with menus

    You have to bring out the stylus to compensate for that. And there are times you just can't do that or won't want to do that. The next software iteration should consider that and exploit interface (thumbboard and screen) very well.
    Or you could just use TreoJogKeyShorts, downloadable for free from http://sf.net/projects/rwhitby/.

    The intention of TreoJogKeyShorts is to reduce the number of situations where you need to open the lid of your Treo just to view information, or where you need to use the stylus just to edit
    information.

    It does this by intercepting the Jog-dial keys and performing certain application-specific actions in response to those keys, and by enabling certain keyboard shortcuts in various situations (see the README for details of the support enabled in each application).

    -- Rod (author of TreoJogKeyShorts)
  16. #16  
    Of course there is the option of the on-screen keyboard which I often find myself using. Doesn't seem very popular though...
  17. #17  
    It's true the thumboard gets easier to use in time. I'm a writer and input a lot of data through the TB. You'll find if you concentrate on improving speed, you can. And in a few months, it starts to become instinctual and you're trying to find the blue key on your PC. I'm almost 50wpm on my Treo90 and never got above 15 with graffiti.

    I played around with the thumboard on the New Sony and the TungstenC. I was disappointed with both. I found that the smaller keys of the treo were actually easier to press and more accurate because of the thumboard in conjunction with HS software for it. Plus the letters are easier to see on the Treo.

    I've tried KeyCapsHack, Treo KB Utils, DoubleQuick Hack and they are all great at what they do. BUT, they all slow down your typing speed. I took them all off. I think Jeff Hawkins has it right with the TB's native state. I usually use the large letters and Cursor right and left via the blue/scrolls. If I want to move more than a word in any direction, I've found tapping the screen with my finger to move the cursor IS the fastest way.

    The hack I would recommend is CorrectHack. It's what the built-in top secret correction/abbrev software already in your treo is based on. CorrectHack does shortcuts automatically. You can configure it so you type "tu" followed by a space and "Tuesday" appears. Users have developed their own shorthand for commonly used words an phrases. You can actually cut text entry in half. It's only shortcomming is that it doesn't have a PC and Mac version that configures itself off your treo's CorrectHack DB backup files.

    I still don't miss the Stowaway.
  18. #18  
    Just tossing this out for consideration. Was pondering how HS might change the Treo in future interations and thought some kind of butterfly phone pad/thumb board might be interesting. The basic idea is that the keyboard part of the Treo body would have hinges on the side. When the system was folded in the Treo would have a regular phone pad, but the user could open up the board to reveal a QWERT thumb board. Theoretically, I think this could allow for a smaller closed form factor and a larger thumb board. Implementation would probably require moving the screen to the top of screen, maybe using a screen on the inside of the lid and on the outside like some Sprint phones I've seen. Hopefully the I've made this as clear as mud. What do you guys think?

    Gargoyle
  19. #19  
    If this were PalmOS and had a larger, high-res screen, I would get it now!

    http://www.nokiausa.com/phones/6800


    -Joe
  20. #20  
    I think it would be useful to be able to reassign keys. That would allow matching the keyboard to idiosyncratic needs. An editable file that listed each key, followed in sequence by the unshifted, shifted, blue, and ... list meanings, could provide a simple interface. Maybe such a utility exists; I think it might alleviate many of the problems people have with the Treo thumboard. Various hacks, particularly KeyCapsHack, already help a lot.
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