Palm Treo and keyboards

I’m just about to receive my Treo 700p (the only smartphone Verizon has that works with a Mac–they don’t yet have iPhones!) on Monday and I know some folks have mentioned using their Palms to write on?? I’d love to hear more about this. I’m looking at keyboards that I can use with the Treo and I thought this a marvelous idea for use on the road. I’ll be doing a fair bit of traveling over the next few months, so I would LOVE to be able to leave the laptop at home and use the Palm for writing notes and development ideas I can then load into Scr. when I get back home. I may need to bring the laptop with me and leave it in the hotel for some trips, but the Palm would still be quite useful for daily note-taking and doing research.

Any of you have experience with this? And advice on what keyboards work best? I’m looking at the “think outside” bluetooth keyboard the works with the Treo.


Before my iBook (love at first type) I used my E and later my T5 with a palm keyboard. It’s great for notes & such but sometimes when I was ‘in the groove’ it struggled to keep up (a bit laggy for some reason).

However, as a portable option, it can’t be beat.

Edited to add: I’d be interested in how you find the Treo - I’ve been seriously thinking of getting one. I read using my Palm (ebooks etc) and I’d like to know if the Treo is worth trading in my T5 & Nokia

Years ago I bought a Palm Treo 90, the smart wordprocessor WordSmith, and a foldable keyboard by Pocketop. Everything fitted into a small pocket camera bag, that I could easily bring with me even on top of a mountain.

The bundle looked nice on paper, but using it was not comfortable at all. Too many typos, a very small display, and the odd positioning of keyboard and display (that could lost IR connection at any time). I also dislike the way data are transferred between the Palm and a desktop computer.

All considered, if I must take short notes while on a short trip, a small A5 bloc-notes is fine. For longer writing, I’ll probably have a table, my comfortable car passenger console, or my laps, to be easier with a small laptop (like the old iBook, or even my clumsy PowerBook G3).


My Treo 650 works fine with the Palm Universal keyboard. I had to download a driver for it from the Palm site, but I’d guess that your phone will be much more up to date. (I got my 650 quite a while ago.)

The only thing is - don’t try to write under an Ott light (or equivalent)! Apparently, the light (which is a full sprectrum light) goes into the same range as the infrared on the keyboard. Totally wacky results. (And, boy, did it take me a while to track that down. :unamused: )

I love my Treo - it does all sorts of things that lets me have one device instead of a lot. There’s also a program out there that lets me use the side button to record (like my Zire 72 does), which I find handy for quick notes to myself.

Enjoy! I think you’re going to love your new phone. :smiley:

Edited to add: I don’t use this combo to write write (i.e., my fiction) but I do use it for both story notes and for research at the library. I usually write at home or plan ahead and take my Alphasmart Neo with me whenever I don’t want to deal with my laptop. (<- Which really means when I don’t want to be tempted by wifi somewhere so I can “just check my email” when I went there to write.)

Yes, this is what I intend. I will be doing some field research and the like and I definitely don’t want to lug my laptop around with me. I plan to do my actual writing on my iBook, but for note-taking, it seems the Palm should work well.

I’m so glad you like your Treo. The 700p looks amazing. Thanks so much for the comments, all of you!


Before I got a laptop, I used a similar keyboard with an old model of Sony Clie and got a lot of work done. I’d probably get less done with a Treo, but only because it has wireless features. The keyboard itself has a great feel, and I didn’t find the small screen limiting for writing. For editing, it was too small.

Yeah, for the bit of writing I’ll be using it for, I think it will work fine. I just love the idea of not having to lug around the laptop and put it at risk when I’m out and about. Thanks!!

I’ve been writing on a Palm for about 4 years now and I reckon they’re a fantastic platform for writing on the go. My first Palm was a Zire (glorified toy) but I upgraded to a T5 about a year ago which is simply awesome.

I started using them to travel light between home-work-uni and then I found it was excellent for travelling abroad with. I’ve never felt comfortable travelling with my powerbook; feels like i should be wearing a ‘please rob me’ t-shirt. Where as my palm and keyboard fits in a pocket.

It’s also quite productive too; fewer games to distract me from writing!

Unfortunately the T5 is discontined in favour of the TX or the lifedrive. Both the TX and lifedrive are crap. The TX CPU is slower and it has less memory than the T5 wheras the lifedrive has the same CPU but the harddrive is ridiculously slow.

I use an IR keyboard and Docs2Go to draft long text and the Palm memo editor for short notes. Docs2go is fantastic and well worth the investment as it’s one of the few palm apps than can edit native word and excell files and it does it really well. I can also use PocketTunes in the backround to listen to Mp3s and WMAs whilst i type away.

My next toy will probably be the Palm Foleo or the iPhone but then they’ll both have to convince me they’re a match for the T5.

I haven’t used a Treo; the smaller screen size doesn’t appeal but I do like the idea of having only one device instead of two. Maybe the iPhone will answer my prayers…

Oh BTW, avoid the Think Outside IR keyboard. I had two that failed on me. My Palm branded one is much better. Bluetooth doesn’t suit me because it eats batteries on both the palm and the keyboard. My Palm IR keyboard has had the same batteries for other a year.

Have you looked into the Alphasmart line at all? They are a bit more bulky than the PDA+keyboard combination, but much much more sturdy and with excellent keyboards. If you just want to write with it, the Neo is probably all you need; if you want to retain other PDA functions, the Dana runs the Palm OS. If you get one new, its probably around the same price as a new PDA, but you see used ones in good condition pop up on eBay for around 75% retail.

Hi. Thanks for all the helpful tips. I’d already ordered my Treo when I wrote the post, and Jot, aka Sue, very, very kindly offered me her Palm Wireless keyboard, which she then sent, in a quick and timely manner, all the way from Australia. And she would not let me reimburse her! A truly generous and wonderful fellow Scrivener. I’m happy to say it works wonderfully and I love it!!

Many thanks again, Jot!!!


Just remember not to use it under an Ott (aka full spectrum) light. Drives the IR crazy with the keyboard.

Drove ME crazy until I figured out why I was having intermittent problems when working with my Palm/keyboard at my desk.

Btw, I love my Zire 72 AND my T|X AND my Treo 650 (and my Neo). Yes, I am a tech junkie, but if it works and I have fun while working, I’m happy. :smiley:

Good tip! Thanks!


Amber, thanks for the tip on the Alphasmart. Day-um!

What a fascinating little piece of technology. Now that’s a drafting machine.

The site:

I have the Tungsten E2 and the Palm Universal Wireless Keyboard.

Software: Wordsmith for Writing and ThoughtMgr for Outlining.

The Wireless keyboard can be fussy if not set up just so but quite good otherwise.

As to Typos, that’s a question of flow. I’ve learned to turn off spell checking when using MSWord. That has got to be the most intrusive program but work insists.