HP Jornada External Keyboard (Part HP F1275A) Impressions
Copyright 1999 Todd Ogasawara
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HP Jornada 420 Palm-size PC Impressions HP Jornada 820 H/PC Pro Impressions

HP Jornada External Keyboard with Newton External Keyboard
Photo 1. HP Jornada External Keyboard (top). Apple Newton Keyboard (below). HP Jornada 420 (right).
HP Jornada External Keyboard connected to an HP Jornada 420 Palm-size PC
Photo 2. Keyboard connected to an HP Jornada 420 P/PC.
HP Jornada External Keyboard connected to a HP620LX Handheld PC
Photo 3. Keyboard connected to an HP620LX H/PC.
HP Jornada External Keyboard below an NEC MobilePro 750C
Photo 4. Keyboard (bottom) compared to an NEC MobilePro 750C.
HP620LX w/AC, modem, and keyboard attached
Photo 5. HP620LX with keyboard, A/C, and modem attached.
  • I bought a HP Jornada External Keyboard on April 3, 1999 for US$80 at a local CompUSA.
  • The kit consists of
    • A keyboard similar to the keyboard on the HP Jornada 820 H/PC Pro mini-notebook. The keyboard has six rows of keys. The top row of keys consists of 8 functions and 4 dedicated keys. A list of special keys are at the bottom of this page. The serial cable is permanently attached to the keyboard.
    • A soft leather carrying case.
    • A 3.5 disk with drivers for the HP300, HP400, and HP600 series H/PCs and P/PCs.
    • An 11 page instruction booklet.
  • The keyboard drivers work with the HP300/320LX H/PCs (must have Windows CE 2.0 ROM upgrade), HP340/360/620/660/680/680eLX H/PCs, and the HP Jornada 420/428 P/PCs.
  • I tested the keyboard on an HP620LX and an HP Jornada 420.
  • The driver is installed from the 3.5 inch disk on a synched PC. The installation process seemed clean and painless for both the 420 and 620.
  • The keyboard connects to the HP Jornada 420's docking station serial port or directly into the HP620LX's serial port.
  • The keyboard driver is activated from a menu option. From then on, the keyboard driver detects whether or not a keyboard is attached and enables its use when attached.
  • Using a HP Jornada 420 P/PC with the external keyboard opens up a whole new set of usage opportunites for the device. Writing longer e-mail, longer notes, and maybe even programming (e.g., NSBasic on the P/PC) become viable possibilities with the keyboard attached.
  • Surprisingly, I think the keyboard also opens up more possibilities for the HP600 series of Handheld PCs even though those units already have a keyboard. I generally tend to carry around a NEC MobilePro 750C because it has a large keyboard that is easy to touch type on. However, the external keyboard opens the possibility of carrying my HP620LX as a mostly-retrieval device for most of the day and then connecting the external keyboard for more typing intensive tasks like writing trip report during the flight home.
  • The only possible criticisms are: (i) The need for the docking station when connecting the keyboard to the HP Jornada 420. The Apple Newton connected directly to its external keyboard. This made using the Newton and its keyboard quite simple during meetings. I definitely need to buy a spare 420 docking station now. (ii) The keyboard cable is short (which is fine) and reasonably stiff/inflexible. The cable's stiffness makes positioning a bit more difficult than need be.
  • I found the 90% sized keyboard very comfortable to use. In fact, I think I find it actually feels better to type on that the similarly sized HP Jornada 820 mini-notebook keyboard.
  • SUMMARY. I really like the HP Jornada External Keyboard. My feeling is that it will increase the value of the conventional sized H/PCs (e.g., HP320LX or HP620LX). It will solve the dilemma of wanting a mini-notebook sized keyboard that one can touch-type on and also the smaller easy to carry size of the traditional H/PCs. I also think that HP Jornada 420/428 P/PC owners will also get more value from their units. The keyboard opens up the potential to perform more writing intensive tasks on the 420. Detailed e-mail messages, long form reports, and other typing intensive tasks are all much easier and faster to perform with the keyboard. You can carry around the 420 during the day using it mostly for retrieving information and then connect the keyboard back in the office, home, or hotel room for longer writing tasks.

Special Keys on the HP Jornada External Keyboard
  • Task Switch Key. Switch to the next active application.
  • OK Key. Equivalent to tapping the 'OK' button on the screen.
  • Cancel key. Equivalent to tapping the cancel 'X' button on the screen.
  • Keyboard key. Configure keyboard options.
  • Fn+3. British Pound symbol.
  • Fn+4. Eurodollar symbol. HP420/428 only.

Function Keys - Default Settings
  • f1 Inbox
  • f2 Calendar
  • f3 Contacts
  • f4 Tasks
  • f5 Pocket Word
  • f6 Cut
  • f7 Copy
  • f8 Paste
  • Fn + f1 Create new email message
  • Fn + f2 Create new calendar entry
  • Fn + f3 Create new contact
  • Fn + f4 Create new task

Other Keyboard Characters
  • The keyboard can generate numerous diacritical marks. See p. 7.
  • The keyboard can generate numerous special characters (E.g., ©). See p. 8.
  • The keyboard can insert characters from four alternate character maps: Math, Greek, Dingbat, Misc. See p. 9.