In the fourth quarter of 2001, EtherAge, Inc. will begin shipping two versions of its ClipKee add-on keyboard for Palm and Pocket PC handhelds. The company made this announcement today after market research revealed keen interest in the new input devices.
Extremely poor input methods have long plagued handheld devices. Ironically, the smaller and more portable they get, the worse the input options. EtherAge will attempt to solve this conundrum by releasing a small, two-thumbs keyboard that literally clips onto the bottom of the handhelds it is designed for.
The initial version, simply called ClipKee, will enable users to type and edit in any of the handheld’s applications and can be used both sitting or standing. The keyboard is a miniature QWERTY-based design that looks quite similar to the popular Blackberry keyboards on devices from Research in Motion.
The second version, dubbed ClipKee Nomad, will add 802.11b wireless ethernet capabilities via either compact flash (CF) slot or built-in 802.11 circuitry. The company is currently in talks with a company in Taiwan to create the 802.11 CF card , stating that it would be a lower cost alternative in terms of production and end-user costs.
The company’s initial and tentative support schedule is as follows:
- Compaq iPAQ: Sept/Oct
- Handspring Visor: Nov/Dec
- Handspring Visor Prism: Nov/Dec
- HP 540 Series: Jan/Feb 2002
- Palm V: Sept/Oct
- Palm m505: Sept/Oct
- Palm III: Jan/Feb 2002
- Sony Clie: Jan/Feb 2002
The EtherAge Website shows an MSRP of $39 so the devices should be quite affordable and less expensive than other keyboard options.