Help me type without ever needing to look?
March 31, 2008 9:38 PM   Subscribe

Is there a wireless, battery rechargeable, full-sized or laptop-sized keyboard available that has a memory card which will allow me to leave the office, go to the gym or a cafe and type without needing or even glancing at a monitor? So that later, I can return to give my work a good editing without caring about how it looks on the first draft?

I'm not looking for a laptop or that thing Apple produced for elementary school students. I am also not looking for a braille computer. If there is a wireless full-sized or laptop sized keyboard out there that will allow me to leave the room, the building, the campus, the house, and go to the park, the gym, sit on the bus, sit in an airplane and keep typing to a large memory that I can access later, preferably in a format like SD or mini-SD (but if there is only USB, I'd me somewhat OK) I am in the market for this. Any ideas?
posted by parmanparman to Grab Bag (17 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
You may have already seen this thread. Of all the products mentioned therein, it seems like the Neo might be closest to what you have in mind.
posted by box at 9:48 PM on March 31, 2008

Best answer: If you don't even want a display, and are handy with a soldering iron, I bet you could make a recording keyboard out of your favorite ps/2 keyboard, a picaxe, a boarduino and a data logger. That data logger would cost as much as the rest of the components combined, so finding a cheaper one would significantly reduce the cost.
posted by hades at 10:18 PM on March 31, 2008

Oh, but that wouldn't act as a wireless keyboard for your computer when not being used for headless typing. Is that a requirement?
posted by hades at 10:24 PM on March 31, 2008

Response by poster:
Oh, but that wouldn't act as a wireless keyboard for your computer when not being used for headless typing. Is that a requirement?

Am I really awake?

I thought of this. I am not really using this for office work, more for tasks and work outside of the office (like getting a novel out without thinking hard about it.) I think the only reason I would hook it up to a computer would be to transfer a text file to the desktop and since I have a laptop with a keyboard and same at the office, using it there would not be necessary unless I have to take minutes at a meeting.
posted by parmanparman at 10:29 PM on March 31, 2008

The absolute simplest way would be to hit ebay for a used alphasmart. You can get an older model for around $30, and a newer one for around $100. A friend of mine wrote his last NaNoWriMo novel on a Dana, and seemed to like it.

If you enjoy hardware hacking, then I think the picaxe/boarduino/logomatic is the way to go. Besides, you'd be able to say that you wrote your novel on hardware you built yourself, and not in the "bought components from newegg and assembled" sense. I think that'd be keen.
posted by hades at 10:43 PM on March 31, 2008

If you end up not liking the above good suggestions or find them to be too large , you could explore using a Palm pilot with a folding bluetooth or IR keyboard. They both can fold up very small but then the keyboard can unfold to a decent size. They both can fit in your pocket for constant and consistent carrying.
posted by bottlebrushtree at 10:52 PM on March 31, 2008

Another alternative is to get a bluetooth wireless keyboard (maybe like this), and a bluetooth enabled PDA or phone with (mini) SD card capability - and just type into the PDA/phone (it would have a very small screen, but you wouldn't have to look at it).
posted by birdsquared at 10:55 PM on March 31, 2008

That's what I get for using live preview instead of the preview button...
posted by birdsquared at 10:56 PM on March 31, 2008

Also look into keyloggers. These are tiny (potentially sinister) devices that plug between a regular keyboard and the computer, and record all the keystrokes, to be downloaded later and used for evil/good. I wonder if all you would need to do to convert any regular ps2 keyboard of your choice into the wireless keylogging device you describe, might be to add a 5V battery pack. If the keylogger continually needs to "talk" with the computer, this won't work (which is why I suggest ps2, not usb), but worth investigating, because of the ease with which you could make a device that plugs into any old keyboard and turns it into what you want.
posted by -harlequin- at 11:34 PM on March 31, 2008

Oooh, a keylogger. That's a great idea!
posted by hades at 2:19 AM on April 1, 2008

Could the keylogger solution be made to work with just an off the shelf mobile device charger or is it necessarily a "project"?
posted by tomcooke at 3:23 AM on April 1, 2008

(I know that's for USB but maybe with an active adaptor cable to convert to PS/2 it could be OK?)
posted by tomcooke at 3:26 AM on April 1, 2008

I've got a Neo. They're great, pretty much indestructible, months-long battery life, and you can pick them up pretty cheap on eBay. Highly recommended.
posted by Happy Dave at 3:54 AM on April 1, 2008

I'm N'thing the AlphaSmart. I have one of the older AS3000's and it's my go-to tool for first drafts of my mystery novels now. Here's a brief entry on my blog regarding it.
posted by willmize at 4:25 AM on April 1, 2008

Response by poster: No, I don't even want it to have a monitor. I want a keyboard like the keyboard I am using write now, my awesome, no character symbol IBM throwback keyboard that the rest of my office hates because I can look them straight in the eyes and keep typing. Does anyone know a good modder who is handy with a keyboard and a soldering iron? If I can get one made, I'll make two and put the other one on ebay to benefit the Mefi Scholarship.
posted by parmanparman at 10:42 AM on April 1, 2008

You might like the Tandy 100. Very old school feeling keyboard, available very cheaply on ebay. It does have a small LCD display, but it's hard to see and easy to ignore. You would need to use some non-usb cable to hook it to your computer, unless you can get it modded.
posted by yohko at 10:55 AM on April 1, 2008

Response by poster: I had a Tandy 100, it was great. And when it broke, it broke. I am going to find a modder and have it built myself, when I am done, I'll post to projects.
posted by parmanparman at 2:19 PM on April 1, 2008

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