Seiko ThumBoard makes typing on Palm device easy I'm...

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September 03, 2001

Seiko ThumBoard makes typing on Palm device easy

I'm just about as fast at thumb-typing on my two-way pager as I am typing the normal way on my computer's keyboard. So, imagine my glee when I was asked to review the Seiko Instruments ThumBoard TB5000, which lets me type data into my Palm V using my thumbs.

The Palm slides into the ThumBoard, which covers the handheld computer's buttons and Graffiti writing area. Fear not: The keyboard has buttons that restore functions of obstructed buttons.

The top row of keys includes the power button, as well as shortcuts to launch basic Palm applications such as the calculator, address book and to-do list. Conveniently placed arrow keys quickly move the cursor around the screen. You'll still need a stylus for some chores, such as picking an item from the Palm's menu.

The $50 ThumBoard TB5000 adds about 1 inch to the depth of the Palm V.

Models for the Palm m500 series, as well as for Handspring's Visor, Visor Deluxe and Platinum, are also available. Information: 1-800-873-4508 or go to www.seiko-austin.com.- Jim Rossman/KRT

CyberBoy performs variety of tasks as PDA

Your choice of personal digital assistants grows every day. One of the most versatile, however, might be flying below your radar: the CyberBoy.

The PDA offers the traditional address book, calendar and to-do list functions. Users of handhelds with the Palm operating system will feel right at home, despite CyberBoy's proprietary software. That's where comparisons with many PDAs stop: This is a wonderfully multi-functional device. Built-in are an MP3 player, an FM receiver, a voice recorder and a low-resolution digital camera.

Images taken with the camera appear grainy and dark on the monochrome screen but can be transferred to a computer using the USB cable link. There, the pictures can be viewed in a larger size and in color, though they'll still be somewhat fuzzy.

When connected to a PC, the CyberBoy can work as a video camera. Images appear live on your monitor. The software can record and play video. Unfortunately, the unit's proprietary video format isn't compatible with formats such as Windows Media Player.

The CyberBoy's Smart Media memory slot permits the system's 8-megabyte memory to be boosted up to 128MB with additional cards. That provides more space for storing digital images or MP3s.

Aside from drawbacks mentioned above, the only other major shortcoming is that the software and manuals weren't written by someone with a good command of English. Configuring the device, reading the manual and downloading updates are frustrating.

Still, for those with patience and a desire for an entertainment-oriented, expandable PDA, the $399 CyberBoy would make a great selection. American Electronics & Entertainment, a subsidiary of Taiwan's CMC Magnetics, distributes the CyberBoy in the United States. Go to www.gadgetuniverse.com - and soon to www.buy.com or www.outpost.com - to buy it. Information: 1-925-829-2454 or www.cmcia.com.- Victor Godinez/KRT

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