The New Slate Keypad/Folio: the good, the bad and the ugly!

Discussion in 'HP Slate' started by Bronsky, Dec 8, 2011.

  1. Bronsky

    Bronsky Wait and Hope. Senior Member

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    You all know that I have been looking for a keypad/folio that would fit the Slate 500, much the same way as the IPad or Thinkpad Tablet keypad/folio. When HP announced that it was releasing one for the Slate 2, it was a “must order” for me. Now that I have had the chance to test it out, I am quite ambivalent. Even before I ordered it, I thought the price was rather high. After seeing it, I am on-the-fence as to whether or not to keep it. Here’s why:

    IT’S BIG (the ugly).

    It’s really BIG! When the box arrived from HP, I was surprised at how thick the box was.

    [​IMG]

    I was even more surprised at how much the folio filled the box after I opened it. Did I mention that it’s really BIG!

    [​IMG]

    It is the size of the old 3 ring date books that yuppies in the 1980's were so fond of carrying around and noting their executive assistant lunches and appointments to have their big-hair done. It is nearly twice as thick as the Slate in its original folio. It is almost twice as thick as my Acer 3820TG notebook.:rolleyes:

    [​IMG]

    It Types Great (the good)

    I was pleasantly surprised when I started to type on it. It is one of the best small keyboards I have ever used. It has a great typing feel and, even though the keys look small, my fingers do not slip off, nor wander onto other keys, like I have experienced on other “chicklet” style keyboards on 10" netbooks. Note, however, that I have small hands and my fingers fit well. I don't think those of you with crab-claws or lumber-jack hands would fare as well on this KB.

    [​IMG]

    The keys have great action. The typing experience reminds me of typing on a Lenovo Thinkpad E420, short throw but positive action. I can get decent typing speed as long as I am working with familiar key/letter placement (more on this later).

    Once the slate is put into its pocket, held in by a velcro enclosure, you can select two angles.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    One is perfect for a desktop or airplane tray table, while the other works well if you have to put the slate down on a coffee table or a surface below your sitting area. The second angle holds the display at the proper attitude to avoid any issues arising from low vertical viewing angles.

    [​IMG]

    The Keyboard is Truncated (the bad)

    After typing on the keyboard for a few minutes, I was impressed with the typing action and getting used to the feel, increasing my speed. I was forgetting how big the thing was an considering that it would make a great travel folio. It looks great deployed.

    [​IMG]

    It would present a very professional look deployed at a meeting or in a conference room, typing notes. I was thinking of what a great classroom notebook it would make if you typed-in your notes. Then it hit me when I needed to type a possessive case, “there’s no apostrophe?”. Well, after closer inspection, I found the apostrophe (“‘”), as well as the quotation marks (“), brackets, and question mark (?) were not in their usual places on a US keyboard. HP’s engineers did not have enough room to design proper sized keys and keep a full keyboard so they made some keys accessible by hitting the “fn” key. The "fn" keys are the ones in the boxes in the picture below.

    [​IMG]

    Every time I needed to get access to one of these special keys, I was stopped dead in my tracks. This is going to take quite a lot of getting used to. It is a shame too, since I was just starting to get over my initial revulsion to the overall size of the keypad folio. Have I mentioned how BIG it is?

    Other stuff:

    The keypad is powered by a USB cord that attaches to its power socket on the right. Once you turn it on (power switch at the top) it syncs seamlessly with the slate, even when the slate comes out of sleep, it is instantly ready to type. There is very little lag when typing. Less than I have experienced with my current keyboard, which is designed to be used with an Ipad.

    Even though it feels really big to me, it fits into my briefcase and the case can close normally.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    In all, when I was finished testing the KB, I put my slate back into its original folio. That is the way I will probably use it most of the time. Given that, I am really wondering how much I will really use this accessory. On the other hand, it is perfect for typing on an airplane, in a hotel room or, better yet, at a bar. All things being equal, I would probably be inclined to keep the folio and use it strictly for travel. That was my thought before I encountered the truncated keyboard. I was really spooked by this and the difficulty I was having keeping any rhythm going while looking for a ? or other key that needed an “fn” press as well. I’m not sure I can get used to this or even want to. At $100, I have to really think twice about keeping it. I confirmed with my rep that I have the standard 30 days to return it, so I’ll be giving it a go for the next month to see if it is worth keeping. As for now, I would bet that I will be returning it before too long.
     
  2. ships10

    ships10 Scribbler - Standard Member Senior Member

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    Thanks Bronsks....wow...that is BIG!!
    Nice review....nice to see you keep trying to keep it....lol.
    I am not sure if I am ready for those keyboard surprises....I mean, really , could the HP engineers not have known how important and frequently those keys are stroked?!
    I would feel totally paralysed and frozen to the teeth not to mention the aggravation of having to punch 2 keys to get to one.
    However, I do see you point...it maybe be useful in some circumstances.
    Question:....how were u able to upload those pics.?...mine won't do it beyond a certain file size.?
     
  3. Agent 9

    Agent 9 Scribbler - Standard Member Senior Member

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    @ ships10
    you have to use a external photo hosting site (it looks like Bronsky used Photobucket) I use Flickr, and others use Image Shack, those are the big three -and they are free (for the most part, I think all have a 'pro account' where you can have as many photos as you want and at any resolution), though you could use others...

    @Bronsky
    That thing looks pretty slick when in use, but it seems it would be awful for storage or transportation, what a shame about that and the keyboard
     
  4. vtgant

    vtgant Pen Pal - Newbie

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    Bronksy,

    Thanks for the review. I was waiting for your review before I considered pulling the trigger. It is no longer a consideration. I like how my current Slate setup rolls. I don't want to add additional bulk. I will stay with my compact foldable Think Outside keyboard.

    Relatedly, you stated "it is perfect for typing on an airplane." Does it also use the USB for connecting the Slate to the keyboard? The reason I am asking is because to my knowledge using bluetooth devices is banned on all the major airlines (at least the ones I fly and I fly almost weekly). I had purchased what I thought was a foldable usb keyboard only to discover that the usb was only used for charging it, not for wireless connecting.
     
  5. Bronsky

    Bronsky Wait and Hope. Senior Member

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    The connector is for charging only. The KB is wireless. My partner uses her IPad folio on flights all the time and is never bothered. Have you had issues? I think as long as your KB is in a folio, the attendants leave you alone.

    I'm fairly sure I'll be sending my unit back. It's just too damn bulky and undercuts the whole rationale for owning something as compact as the slate.

    Update: I'm already having a bit of a change-of-heart about returning this folio. I think the folio, deployed in a setting like a courtroom, looks far more professional than a dock and keyboard combination. I will also have the opportunity to try it out on a plane next week, so I'll let everyone know how comfortable it is on a tray table and wether or not the attendants have any issues with its use aboard.

    I think I am in a bit of a different situation than a normal consumer, as I use the slate as a primary professional device. If I only use the keyboard folio once in my practice, it basically pays for itself.
     
  6. 2jz gze

    2jz gze Pen Pal - Newbie

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    Bronksy,

    Thanks for the review! Wow, I am surprised on how thick that is. I'd rather just carry my laptop around.

    Have you ever considered the PDAir Folio case? I just got it and it looks and feels awesome. I even rigged a strap to keep the case closed. I use this with a fold out keyboard and I have to admit that it looks really clean. Plus its not thick as your folio.

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
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    [​IMG]
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    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    This is the BT Keyboard that I use:
    eBay - New & used electronics, cars, apparel, collectibles, sporting goods & more at low prices
     
  7. 2jz gze

    2jz gze Pen Pal - Newbie

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    I should clarify: when I said I added a strap to keep the case closed, this is what I mean:

    Without strap:
    [​IMG]

    Without strap, the cover falls:
    [​IMG]

    With the strap I made, it does not fall:
    [​IMG]

    I do not know why they did not implement this...=)
     
  8. Hattori Hanzo

    Hattori Hanzo Scribbler - Standard Member

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    Pardon my sarcasm, but at least you get something for the money :D

    But indeed, without even having an HP Slate, I get why you guys love the form factor and why this folio is kind of a let down with its size.

    Good luck for the after market!
     
  9. dgoodisi

    dgoodisi Scribbler - Standard Member

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    This is reinforcing my decision to wait until the new ARM based Windows 8 tablets come out.

    My ideal has changed after seeing what the Transformer Prime looks like.

    A Transformer Prime with a Wacom display running Windows 8? hmmmm
     
  10. Bronsky

    Bronsky Wait and Hope. Senior Member

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    So far, the Slate has given me a year of flawless performance. It's design flaws are frustrating but overall, I still think it is the most functional small fanless slate on the market, including the slate 2. I completely agree with you and will be keeping it until a much thinner, more powerful W8 tablet comes along.

    I did discover that I really like using touch with a keyboard. It's become intuitive for me after owning the slate for a year.

    Yes ... I gave it a lot of consideration. I really want the keyboard attached to the folio but would just like a thinner package. I have been using the keyboard for the past couple of days and am starting to get used to the key layout. I am finding it more natural and my overall writing speed is increasing. I really like the feel of the keyboard action, HP has that exactly right.

    I am seriously considering taking HP's folio to a leather craftsman and see what he can do to make something a bit thinner and more attractive, using the folio's existing keyboard.
     
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